How did the Seminoles’ men’s outdoor T&F team become two-time reigning national champs? Simple. Florida State head coach Bob Braman built a powerhouse of record-breaking trackleteslike All-American ACC Male Athlete of the Year Walter Dix and 400-meter phenom Ricardo Chambers. Here, the man in charge explains what he looks for in potential recruits and how you can make it to the next level.
STACK: When do you start showing interest in potential recruits?
Bob Braman: After July 1, following the athlete’s junior year of high school. Both guys and girls really show themselves at the end of their junior year.
STACK: What qualities do you look for?
BB: First and foremost, we want people who are performing at the absolute top level, and that’s very easy to measure in a sport like track and field. For almost every event, we go off the national rankings. After that, it comes down to some other things: character and consistency of performances. Are they performing in the big competitions, or are they running and jumping and throwing in the smaller ones? We look at those things as kind of the tiebreakers.
STACK: What do you look for, in particular, in sprinters and distance runners?
BB: We’re looking for versatility; two-event athletes are better. You don’t want a high hurdler who can’t run your 4x100, or you don’t want an intermediate hurdler who can’t run a quality leg on your 4x4.
For distance runners, the NCAA does not have cross country scholarships. So if you’re a cross country guy, you’re on a track and field scholarship, and you have to be able to perform on the track.
STACK: You mentioned character as a factor. Elaborate on that.
BB: We make sure the athlete has the work ethic to come to college and be successful. If he doesn’t have a good work ethic or he doesn’t think it’s important, then it doesn’t matter how fast he is. He won’t make it.
STACK: What do you expect from an athlete during his/her initial visit?
BB: I like kids who come in and know something about our program. They go on our website; they know our athletes; they’ve seen us on TV; they know some background about the coaches. To me, that shows genuine interest.
STACK: What are the chances of an athlete from a small high school attending and competing at a Division I college?
BB: Small high schools aren’t really at a disadvantage. We don’t care if the runner is from a school of 5,000 students or 50; it doesn’t matter to us as long as he’s achieved the performances and, preferably, done it at the highest meets.
STACK: Do you encounter athletes who want to run for a D-I program but are better suited for a D-II or D-III program?
BB: All the time. What I tell them is, first of all, I was a walk-on, and I earned a scholarship at the University of Florida. So I start from my personal side. The other side is: Why come to an elite program and not get to compete at the highest level? Why not go to a mid-major or D-II with the chance to earn more scholarship money and maybe have a more meaningful experience?
STACK: How can track athletes who want to run in college take the initiative?
BB: Send an email; it’s the best way to contact almost every coach. Tell me about your best performances and basic academic background SAT, ACT and GPA.
STACK: Do you email every athlete back?
BB: Yes, I always reply. No matter how developmental they are, they deserve a response. That’s just been my policy, 24 years of doing it.