Udpated April 30, 2016
I get a lot of questions from athletes and parents about how to get recruited and get in front of college coaches. And I talk to a lot of college coaches who are amazed at how clueless HS coaches, athletes and parents are about the entire process. (I would tell some stories, but I don’t want to give up my sources!)
Now, I have a specific process I tell my athletes to follow. But, I know that most HS coaches don’t really do anything relevant in terms of helping athletes in this process. And school guidance counselors? Something about boobs on a bull.
So I figured I’d go straight to the source. I asked a bunch of college coaches the following question:
Q: In your opinion, what is the #1 thing HS athletes need to do to put themselves in the best position to be noticed by and therefore 'recruited' by college coaches/programs?
Here are some of their responses:
From Vince Anderson, Texas A&M:
“We want data. And the accuracy of that data is important. Don’t say you have a PR of 10.4 and then we come watch you at the meet and you run 10.89. We like kids who are savvy enough to know the difference between a sketchy hand time and a true FAT time. But, focus on data. Telling us which Conference Championship you won isn't helpful because not all conferences or areas are equal. A Title in one conference may not make the final in others. Many athletes contact us and tell us accolades, but don't provide data. This is not helpful.
If you’re a coach recommending a kid, make it clean and crisp. Keep it short and don’t make it a personal recommendation. Instead, quantify your opinion as to why you think a kid will project well at the college level. Be brief, strong and clear. Less opinion and more straightforward.”
"The number one thing to do to get recruited and get noticed by a college coach is run fast!
If you do not get noticed by the colleges that you are interested in then you should email the coach at that institution. That email should include all of your academic and athletic credentials including:
Cell Phone Number
Attach - Transcript
Attach - SAT and/or ACT Scores (if you haven't taken them then the dates you will take them)
Coach's Contact Info
***Events with personal bests (times)
I can't tell you how many emails I receive when athletes indicate their events, but not their times. Recruits will list accolades such as district or league champion. However, college coaches usually do not know the strength of various high school districts and leagues are across the country. It is paramount that the recruit list their best performances in the email.
If the recruit does not meet our recruiting standards I typically reply to them with the recruiting standards so they can set goals for the upcoming season(s)."
From Ron Grigg, Jacksonville University:
"As much as we try, we do not know the name, phone number, email address and personal best of every athlete that could help our program. Don’t be afraid to directly contact the coaches of every single school that interests you. Email and call. If you don’t get a response, try again. If you still don’t get a response, then that becomes part of your evaluation criteria for that university and that coach. There are many, many factors that contribute to evaluating a prospect. Personal bests are only one criteria. I look for academic performance, statistical consistency of performance, personality, healthy history, training background and my gut when evaluating prospects. The smarter and faster you are, the better chances you have of making any school affordable.
Some other tidbits:
· If you know you are not interested in a school, TELL THEM, even if it is an uncomfortable conversation. First it is part of becoming an adult; learning to communicate properly. Second, it will save you and your family the hassle of unwanted phone calls and emails, and third, it allows the coach to spend their time recruiting interested prospects.
· If a family complains about their high school coach, then they will likely complain about their college coach. It is a red flag for me.
· Ask yourself what you want to “be” in college, and then have a realistic idea of who you can “be” at the college you choose. Do you want to be the star when you first arrive as a freshman, do you want to be nearly anonymous throughout you career and perhaps never travel, do you want to find a place where you can definitely contribute right away, do you want to “work your way up the ladder?”
· There is likely a place for almost any level of talent SOMEWHERE in the NCAA, NAIA or Junior College level, the prospect and family just need to be realistic, and they might have to do a little searching to find it.
· Make a list of criteria that are important to the prospect/family. Is it MONEY, is it size of school, is it location, is it a particular major, is it academic reputation, is it the “name of the school,” is it how fun the Saturday football game will be? Honestly communicate this with the coaches, and use these criteria for consistent evaluation purposes. If you try to tell the coaches what you think they want to hear, but you are not being honest, then it will make for an unpleasant experience when they get to know the “real” you. BE HONEST IN YOUR COMMUNICATION."
From Tony Veney, Ventura College (CA)
"First of all, do your homework:
If you run 10.85/12.15 as a boy or girl, respectively, then running on scholi at Texas A&M is unlikely.
Measure how you stand with the team you're interested in and if you can contribute.
Contact the staff as a junior so they will be able to put you on their radar.
As far as to get recruited and get noticed: If you run a mark representative of D-I & II they already know about you.
Get registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center now and take the SAT/ACT as a junior so when they do take notice you are a good fit athletically and academically."
From an SEC coach:
"1) Perform. If the mark is good enough, it will be seen and you will be recruited.
2) Email and/or mail to the programs of interest or fill out the online questionnaire.
What we want:
A. Event and marks achieved (relay splits do not help)
B. GPA and test scores
C. Height and weight
D. Contact information for student athlete and coach.
E. Link to video or copy of quality video (video off someone's phone standing at the finish line does not help)
Short and simple is much better than anything long and extravagant.
It is a challenge to respond to every piece of mail/email we get including on line questionnaires. We try to be as honest with people if they are at the level we need or not so they can move on also. If the athlete is at the level we would recruit AND fills a needs we have, we will contact them. Phone calls will probably not get returned either.
From Michelle Eisenreich, Stanford University:
"Throw far. If your mark is ranked in the top 25 in the US, you will be noticed."
From Steve Fitzgerald, Stonehill College (MA):
"At Stonehill College the #1 thing our staff looks for is someone who has strong academics and has the athletic ability to compete at a high level in New England and Division II.
I don’t necessarily look for them to be a polished track and field athlete yet but they need to have the athleticism, commitment, and potential to be able to improve and compete. I also want to make sure they are good kids who are interested in a small community environment with an emphasis on academics."
From Dave Cusano, Wheaton College (MA):
"Athletes need to be proactive in the process. Don't wait for coaches to find you. Don't assume that filling out the questionnaire is the end of the process for you.
Email the coach. Fill out prospective recruit forms. Make a phone call and follow up."
So there you have it! Whether the program is DI, DII or DIII, you can easily spot the patterns in what they're looking for!
Bookmark this page. Save it. Send it to the people who need it.
Whether you are a coach, parent or athlete, now you know what's required on your end. By following this advice you will give yourself a distinct advantage over the masses of athletes who will never see this and won't get noticed.
P. S. Want to get coached by top college coaches? Come to the 5th Annual Complete Track and Field Summer Clinic at Harvard University. Click on the banner below.
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Latif Thomas owns and operates Complete Track and Field and serves as the Co-Director of the Complete Track and Field Clinic, the largest track and field clinic in the United States. A popular speaker and presenter at some of the largest coaching clinics in the country. Over the past 15 years, he has coached more combined League, Division, All State and New England Champions in the sprints, hurdles, and jumps than he had the emotional strength to go back and try to count. Follow @latif_thomas on Twitter