Don’t Settle In Recruiting: You May Have More Options Than You Think

recruiting stone unturned Explore All of Your Options

When looking at potential schools you are interested in make sure that you are exploring all of your options. Most student-athletes only look at schools that are geographically close to them or their extended families.
Others will only look at big name schools they have heard of or have followed since they were young. And still others will make a family member’s alma mater their top priority.

Maximum Exposure

True, the school that is right for you can fit into one of these categories but you owe it to yourself to explore all of your options before you make any major decisions. As a student-athlete you will want to make sure you are giving yourself maximum exposure to college coaches as well as exploring every possibility to confirm that you have made the best decision for you.

Commonly Overlooked Opportunities

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is the governing body for about 300 schools. The NAIA is its own institution and has its own set of athletic and academic rules over its schools. NAIA schools tend to be smaller schools but compete at a level comparable to NCAA Division 2 schools. NAIA schools are also allowed to give athletic scholarships and they give out $450 million in athletic scholarships annually. To get more information on the NAIA or their member schools visit naia.org.

Different Division Levels

Look at schools at a different athletic division than you would normally look at. Even though you have the talent level to play at a specific university or division level doesn’t mean that you need to only look at schools at that division level. Look at comparable schools both academically and athletically. Sometimes athletically you can fit in several division levels, so don’t sell yourself short.

Be Open-Minded

Just because D1 sounds sexier doesn’t mean that the perfect school for you is a D1 school. You might find your dream school in a D2 program; they still compete at a high level of athletics and can still give scholarships. Remember you want to be able to succeed both athletically and academically so find the right school for you, not just a school that you think sounds good.

When looking for schools make sure you are exploring all of your options. Break down the search by looking at schools that offer your sport, desired major and living environment. When you first start looking don’t be afraid to look at lots of schools to help you explore and narrow down your search.

If you have questions or comments about finding the right college for you please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


One Thing They Don’t Tell You About Recruiting: Be Patient

Be PatientPatience is a Virtue

There are lots of things that can derail a season–transfer, injury, burn-out. For the college-bound athlete trying to earn an athletic scholarship, this can be a time to learn patience.

The Tim Williams Story

Tim Williams is a great example. After recording 22 sacks his freshman season at his Louisiana high school he decided to transfer schools. Louisiana high school rules stipulate that a transfer has to sit out the season.

It was a hard pill to swallow for Williams. He loved his football. Now the Division I recruit, who had 15.5 sacks as a junior, has learned to appreciate the game that much more for being forced to sit out his sophomore season.
What else did Williams learn from that lost season? He learned that even when you are not on the field you can can contribute by supporting your teammates.

Injuries and Recruiting

How does an injury affect the athlete who is being recruited? If it’s not a serious career-threatening injury most schools will continue their pursuit while others will back off. This can be a good litmus test to see which schools are serious about your recruitment. Is the coach genuinely concerned about your welfare?

And what about teaching patience? Yes, one of the toughest things for a talented young athlete is to sit and watch others play. You can, however, develop a better understanding of the game by sitting on the bench and watching the action unfold.

Feeling Trapped in the Sports Cycle

When that hard-earned patience starts to burn out it is important that athletes and parents recognize the signs and symptoms. For instance, when young athletes start to feel entrapped in the sports cycle and not in control of their own destiny this can manifest in a variety of ways, all of which signal the athlete may need some time off.

Engaged athletes suffer less from burn out. When we take away the fun factor from sports it becomes a chore and this is never a good thing.

If a young athlete runs out of patience it may be a sign that some rest is necessary. Four to six weeks away from a sport can be a great cure for burnout and a welcome refresher for worn-out patience.

If you have questions or comments about recruiting timelines please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


You’re Probably Going Pro In Something Other Than Sports

Balance College Sports AcademicsThe Hard Truth

As a potential college recruit embarking on your initial college search you have many items to think about. Initially, none are more important than which schools will allow you to excel educationally.

It’s likely we’ve all seen or heard the NCAA commercial stating, “There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports.” I feel this is one of the best campaigns the NCAA has ever green lit because it tells the truth.

Recruiting Dream Tempered with Reality

For most, your dreams of playing a professional sport should be dashed from the very beginning. Getting an education should be priority number 1, not professional sports. If you work really hard, have the drive, and the talent then maybe you will be given an opportunity to play your sport professionally, but the percentages are very small.

Balance is the Key

Keeping your grades up doesn’t mean losing focus on your sport. Instead it means needing to create a positive work-life balance. Work-life balance is something you will strive to find throughout your career as a collegiate athlete and an eventual member of the work force.
In college, your “work” is being an athlete and student while “life” is everything else; they must find common ground to be successful. The issue here is that some prospective student-athletes don’t think about all the factors college life presents when they start making decisions about school.

Learn to Prioritize

While some might choose a school for its educational benefits others will choose the school because it has a great football or basketball team that they want to play for. Another group might choose to look at the affordability of a school while other groups look at how far from home the school is located.

The idea with all of these decisions is to find the school that offers the best mix for you as an individual.

It’s Your Decision

The difficult part of the equation is that student-athletes sometimes take into account the opinions of their parents, friends, and relatives, forgetting about what they want and what they can handle. Remember, ultimately you are the person going to this school for 4-5 years, you are the person looking to graduate, and you are the person who is playing the sport; don’t let others sway your decisions to a school you’re not comfortable with.

Talk it Out

In saying this, I am a true believer that you should always talk out any and all decisions with those closest to you. When you do speak with them, have solid reasons why you are choosing to look at a specific university. Maybe their football team is great so you are interested, but make sure their academics are a good fit–do they carry your major and are you on route to be accepted if you apply?

What Can You Afford?

Know what you can afford to pay with and without a scholarship opportunity and know how far you are willing to travel to attend school. Can you afford to travel back and forth and can your family travel to visit you? These of course are just a few questions you should be thinking about when initially searching out schools.

Do the Research

Once you are able to speak openly and clearly with your family about these decisions it’s time to move onto contacting coaches. Just as you did with your family, coaches want to know why you think their school is a fit for you and, again, it should be beyond athletics.
Proper research into the areas I have mentioned will give you an opportunity to impress coaches with your knowledge of their program and school. Research shows that you care about more than just a scholarship opportunity. Your research also shows maturity, a character trait important to coaches. It is maturity that allows you to properly create a work-life balance and ultimately see success.

If you have questions or comments about the recruiting process please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


A Quick Recruiting Overview For The College-Bound Athlete

Need To Know College RecruitingGet Familiar With Recruiting Terms

Let’s start with the NCAA Clearinghouse or what is currently known as NCAA Eligibility Center. The Eligibility Center is how the NCAA DI and DII colleges determine if student-athletes are academically prepared and athletically eligible to play at those levels.
Most student-athletes do not hear the term “eligibility center” until their junior or senior year of high school and then are not even sure how to go through the process of registering.

A Clearinghouse Secret

For us in the recruiting industry, we encourage student-athletes not to register with the NCAA eligibility center until they are seriously talking with NCAA DI or DII college coaches. The reason
for this? The eligibility center fee is a non-refundable $65.00. Athletes who do not move forward in their recruitment or go on to participate in college sports will have paid the registration fee for no reason.

Start the Process Early

Most high school athletes don’t know they have to start their recruiting process as early as ninth grade. This is particularly relevant for athletes considering NCAA DI and DII divisions where they need to be academically eligible in order to be cleared through the NCAA eligibility center.
Young high school athletes who have high hopes of being discovered by college recruiters and coaches need to understand that their actions will be the key to a successful recruiting outcome.

Contact Your School Counselor

Talking over your plans with a teacher, coach or academic advisor will give you more facts and teach you how to be successful in your recruiting. If you have hopes to play at the DI or DII level then you need to be prepared early.
Meet with advisors and make sure that you are taking the right courses in order to be ahead in the recruiting game. Even if you think it’s too late your school advisors are going to want to help you. Take some time to meet with them as soon as possible to discuss all of your college options.

A Big Misconception

Whatever you do, don’t rely on your high school coach to pave the way in your recruiting.
This is the biggest misconception that high school student-athletes face during their recruiting process. Unfortunately, your high school coach may not be much help because of ignorance, lack of time, or other reasons.

Do It Yourself

Take your recruiting into your own hands. Don’t have someone else do it. Only you will know what is right fit for you. If you are willing to put in the time and effort you can make your recruitment a success.

If you have more recruiting questions please leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


Recruiting Tricks You Can Learn From A Coach Who Understands Recruiting

Coach Recruiting TipsFootball Scholarships for Everybody

Is it really possible for one school to have 19 high school students receive football scholarships in one season? It is and it happened this year at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C.

How is this even possible? While we advise against relying on your high school coach to get you recruited, if you have a coach like Friendship’s Aazar Abdul-Rahim you are way ahead of the game.

One Man Can Make a Difference

Abdul-Rahim, a former cornerback at San Diego State University, grew up in D.C. and has made it his mission to get his athletes recruited to college. His strategy is effective and, with 42 players landing college football scholarships in the past three years, it is a method that should be emulated by anybody hoping to earn a college scholarship, especially those who will qualify for other types of financial aid.

The numbers are truly astounding. 19 players at one school? Only 1.4% of high school football players will play college football on a D-1 scholarship.

Taking Charge of Academics

How does he do it? For one thing, Abdul-Rahim has built a reputation that attracts good players to the charter school. He makes sure his players stay eligible to play in college by keeping up their grades and scoring well on the SAT.

But the rest of what he does is above and beyond the call of the duty. And it’s not something you should expect from your high school coach, but it is something you and your parents can do for you.

Finances or 40 Time?

Abdul-Rahim realized early in the game that he can make his players more attractive to college recruiters by paying attention to the bottom line. He saw that finances are often more important than 40-yard dash times and so he devised a way to use financial aid packages to offer his players at a discount.

Recruiting Done Right

The recruiters would show up to see the 6’4, 310 pound player who can run–it’s the marginal players who are a tougher sell. That’s why Abdul-Rahim also makes individual web pages with highlight videos for each player. He makes business cards for each player with a personal web page address listed alongside height, weight, GPA, SAT score and parental contact information.

Abdul-Rahim already has seven players who’ve received offers from major college football programs for next year. He hopes ultimately that he will have even more than 19 players receive football scholarships next year.
I wouldn’t bet against him.

If you have questions or comments about football recruiting please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


Why Summer Is A Great Time To Plan And Build Momentum In Your Recruiting

College Recruiting Summer TimeA Time to Build On Recruiting

Summer is coming–time to plan for summer jobs, vacations, and lay out your recruiting plan. Depending on what grade you are entering you will need to have different summer plans of attack for your recruiting.

Entering Freshman

You are about to enter a world completely different and foreign to you. It will be amazing as long as you keep your head on straight and you have clear cut plans on what you need to be doing these next 4 years. Luckily you will have your sport or sports; this will give you an opportunity to meet new people with similar interests with very minimal effort.

Start Planning Now

If you are interested in playing your sport in college you need to start your planning now. Call your new high school and see if you can set up a meeting with your Grade Level Coordinator and explain to them your goals to play your sport in college so that they can help you map out which classes you will need to take and what year.

Also let them know if you have a desired school that you want to go to. Just because you meet NCAA academic qualifications doesn’t mean that you will meet the academic qualifications of the desired school. You will want to make sure you are on the right academic track for that too.

Sophomore Year

Depending on the sport, this is the time that colleges will start being interested in your high school season stats. You will want to make sure you are making the necessary plans to get the colleges the information they want. Talk to your high school coach; let him know that you are looking to get recruited by a college so you are keeping personal stats on your progress. Ask if they can help with this or if you need to do this yourself. You will also want to start getting video footage of your games, matches or meets. Find out the best way to do this–is there a person who films all of the competitions that you can get the footage from? Or do you have to make arrangements to have someone there filming for you?

Start Going to Camps

This is also the best summer to start going to camps for your sport. Start researching local summer camps, combines and showcases that are at your desired school or that college coaches will be attending. Once you are registered to go to the camp make sure you get ahold of the coach or coaches to let them know you will be there and are interested in having them take a look at your talents.

Junior Year

Once again camps will be very important this summer so make sure that you are registered to attend one. If last year you attended a camp that was held at a particular college that you are interested in attending make sure you go back–they will remember you and you can continue to build relationships with the team.

Narrow Your List of Colleges

You will also want to start narrowing your list of desired schools into a shorter list. At this point you should have already started contacting coaches and letting them know you are interested in attending their school as well as letting them know about your athletic talents. Once you have built some sort of relationship with these coaches you will know which schools are interested in you and which you are still interested in attending. Take this summer to start visiting schools.

Senior Year

This is crunch time, you will have to start picking schools and talking seriously to coaches this year. You don’t want to be left behind in your recruiting class. Be proactive, be aggressive and make sure you carry yourself professionally and with respect. Go to camps, senior showcases, and update coaches on what you are doing.

Make sure that you are using the summer months to athletically train and to gain momentum in your recruiting–the more you are prepared and proactive the more successful you will be.

If you have questions or comments about how to spend the summer recruiting season please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


How International Athletes Are Changing The Face Of College Sports

International Athletes Play College Sports USInternational Invasion in College Sports

Over the past decade the number of international athletes playing college sports in the United States has tripled to well over 11,000. In many sports, most notably tennis and soccer, international players can swing the balance of power and even change the way the game is played.

One of the earliest and most memorable international players was the University of Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon. He grew up playing soccer in Nigeria, came to America and led the Cougars to three basketball Final Fours, before going on to a stellar NBA career.

Understanding the Rules

It is especially important for international athletes to understand the rules and regulations of playing in America. Of the 490 incoming athletes penalized for amateurism violations in 2009, 434 were foreign students.

Football is even getting in on the act. LSU and Alabama played for the BCS National Championship last season and each had a prominent player from overseas.

Mature and Ready to Play

Florida State star defensive end Bjoern Werner is from Germany. This coming season players from England and Switzerland are expected to compete at both starting offensive tackle spots for the Seminoles. FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher says foreign players are often more mature, meaning they are ready to play sooner.

There is some controversy, however, associated with the influx of foreign athletes. Some coaches believe it makes for an uneven playing field, forcing them to recruit foreign athletes to compete.

An Entire Team From Overseas

Baylor, for instance, won the Big 12 women’s tennis title without a single American player on the roster. Is this depriving American athletes of opportunity or raising the level of competition?

The same arguments have been made in other sports, especially soccer, where nationally-ranked programs like UCSB have had key players from Germany and other countries. Proponents of the flood of foreigners into college soccer say it has made the game better, with more technical and accomplished players.

Know the Process

If you’re a foreign-born athlete who wants to play college sports in the United States the issues that face American athletes are the same ones in play for you. The process doesn’t have to be a mystery. It still comes down to understanding the academic requirements and getting exposure, most often through a great highlight tape.

If you have questions or comments about how you can play college sports in the United States please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


Never Rule Out Becoming A Walk-On

College Walk OnHave You thought About Walking on?

Click here to learn how to become a walk-on.

Did you know that it’s more likely you won’t play in college than you will? If you do, did you know that colleges have far more positions available on a squad than they have scholarships for each year?

Did you know that after you graduate high school, if you aren’t playing for a junior college, your dreams of being “recruited” have long past? If these questions hit home then you should be looking into walking-on.

What is a Preferred Walk-On?

Walking-on can be thought of in two ways: you are recruited to the team but the coach doesn’t have a scholarship for you–referred to as a preferred walk-on–or you’re trying out for the team after you’re enrolled at the university or college. Both are great opportunities to have a chance at playing sports in college and both should be seriously considered.

Well Known Walk-Ons

Many well-known and soon-to-be-known athletes were walk-ons at their colleges and universities. Cowboys 5-time pro bowl and 3-time Super Bowl-winning linebacker Darren Woodson walked on at Arizona State while Super Bowl- winning Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews, a 1st round draft choice and 2010 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, walked on at USC. Eric Knight , 2012 USA Olympic swimming hopeful, walked on at George Mason while basketball standout Elena Delle Donne walked-on at Delaware.

See it as an Opportunity

The negative stigma that surrounds walking-on because you’re not a “scholarship athlete” is ridiculous. I know of a parent, one of thousands every year, who turned their nose up at her son getting a walk-on opportunity to play Division 1 baseball. This was an opportunity most student-athletes and parents dream of but she felt it was an insult because her son “deserved” more.

Be Gracious and Consider Your Options

Unfortunately what this parent failed to realize along with all the others is the athlete only “deserves” what the coach deems to be “fair value” or what the coach has available to give. Personally I would have been gracious about the offer, even if it was below my initial expectations. Gracious doesn’t mean I would have accepted it right away but it does mean the offer would have been seriously considered.

A Chance to Shine

What this parent and most others in similar situations fail to realize is that college sports are built from the blood, sweat, and tears of walk-on athletes. Why is this you ask? We can look at rising education costs, budget issues, scholarship restraints put in place by governing bodies such as the NCAA and NAIA, and Title IX. No matter the specific reasons why walk-ons exist, focus on the fact that walking-on gives undiscovered athletes a chance to shine, sometimes on a national stage.

Are you a Diamond in the Rough?

My advice is simple: be open to walking-on if you’re given the opportunity. If you’re not, then inquire about the possibility of trying out and then walking-on to the team. There is no stigma, you’re no different or less talented, maybe you’re the coach’s diamond in the rough, possibly the next Clay Matthews or Elena Delle Donne. All this is possible with consideration–without it you might end up just being a fan.

Calculate your Grade Point Average. Gpa Calculator.

If you have questions or comments about walking-on to a college sports team please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


Why Emailing College Coaches Is An Important Part Of The Recruiting Process

Emailing College CoachesGet Organized

If you think the life of a recruit is time consuming, think of what a college coach will have to endure year after year. A new recruiting class is just around the corner, which is why a serious recruit will have to be on top of their game when reaching out to college coaches for the first time.

How to Prepare

First start off by listing out your top colleges. Find colleges that you think will be a good match for you. Colleges have a lot to offer so make sure that the ones you are interested in are going to be a good fit. How far away do you want to be from home, what type of athletic program are you looking for, and what you will be studying? These are all questions you’ll have to ask in order to find suitable colleges.

The Power of Email

Lucky for you, email is easy to create and easy to send. Email is one of the easiest ways to get in contact with college coaches. Most coaches prefer learning about recruits through the ease of email, especially during the beginning of the recruiting process.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Get your name out there. Begin to email college coaches early. Start by emailing coaches your basic academic and athletic information. Explain in detail, why you are interested in their program and university. Coaches can quickly spot poor quality emails. They also are not going to be impressed with receiving mass emails. It’s important for recruits to be original and sincere–you only have one chance to make a first impression so make sure that you’re sending a good one.

What to Say in Your Email to College Coaches

If possible ask if you can meet with the coach or a team representative during an unofficial visit.

Taking time and spending your own money to visit the campus and meeting with the coach will show them that you are serious about their program and that you are extremely interested in learning more.

Ask about possible camps and tournaments the coach will be attending or hosting. This will give recruits the opportunity to sign-up early and for them to be evaluated by college coaches they want to play for.

Always Reply

Recruits, who are busy emailing coaches, will need to stay on top of their correspondence. Even if you receive an email back with little to no information, you must send a follow-up email thanking the coach for his time and explain that you will keep him informed of your progress as a student and as an athlete.

If you have more questions on emailing college coaches leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.


What Happens If The Recruiting Profile Of Your College Choice Changes Before You Get To Campus?

College Recruiting RulesMarch Madness and Recruiting

Exactly how big a factor does March Madness play in recruiting? It’s that time of year again and, at least for the mid-major schools who live outside the tentacles of the BCS, a deep run in March Madness can have a major impact on what type of player is recruited.

The Prototype: Gonzaga

Just ask Gonzaga. A relatively small sports school in Washington State, Gonzaga doesn’t even have a football program. But for over a decade, Gonzaga has regularly knocked off the big boys of college basketball and reaped the benefits in recruiting.

How so? Over the past few years Gonzaga has been able to recruit six top-100 recruits to its Spokane, Washington campus. Winning leads to a higher profile, more national television games and, ultimately, a broader geographic reach.

The Challenge

Another feather in the cap in the continued recruiting success of Gonzaga is the fact that they’ve kept the same coach for an extended period of time. Often when a smaller program that isn’t a traditional power does well on the court they lose their coach to a bigger name school that can pay more money and, perhaps, offer more prestige. To Gonzaga and coach Mark Few’s credit, they’ve been able to make the relationship work.

How About VCU?

Virginia Commonwealth raised its profile with a deep NCAA tournament run last season. What sort of practical difference can this really make? Maybe before VCU would only recruit that 500-mile radius around its school, the standard self-imposed boundaries for most programs with limited resources. But now they may be able to inject themselves into the recruiting conversation with high profile recruits.

Blowing up the Paradigm

Butler is another mid-major program who’s played in the deep end of the pool with the big boys, thanks to two Final Four runs. They were among the final three schools int he running for 5-star recruit Cody Zeller, who eventually signed with Indiana and was this season’s co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Recruiting the Intangibles

From a recruiting point of view, mid-major prospects should know that these rising yet smaller programs do their due diligence, especially when they can be increasingly selective. They will research your character, attitude, and leadership,among other intangibles.
The bottom line is that in our new global world the 500-radius recruiting rule is more relevant than ever. But a few programs can break through and stretch that radius enough to consistently recruit against bigger programs. Let the madness begin!

If you have questions or comments about recruiting and college basketball please use the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.