How to Get Recruited and Live Your Dream of Playing College Sports

January 6, 2013 | Lee Gordon

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No one could have ever imagined how much the recruiting process would evolve over the past decade. When I first started writing for Rivals.com in 2003, there were no websites that actually told you how to get recruited, and there was little or no video for potential recruits. Today, there are as many as 25 sites for getting recruited by big name schools, all with their own video crews to shoot video of every top athlete in the nation.

Five-star and four-star athletes may get bombarded by recruiters, but not every athlete spends a good portion of their day dodging calls. Many student-athletes would do cartwheels if just one college coach picked up the phone to call them. (See How to Proactively Recruit Yourself.)

Like a job interview, the key to getting recruiting is all about standing out in the crowd. It worked for Tom Brady, and it has worked for hundreds of others like him. Here's a scenario: you're a two- to three-star player with a slew of letters but no solid offers. It's not because you're not good enough. It's because getting recruited is a full-time job, and you have to work at it every day. Brady's father, unhappy that his son wasn't getting recruited, sent videotapes to over 50 colleges hoping to get an opportunity. Michigan came calling and the rest is history. Though you may not be Tom Brady, you deserve a chance to show what you're made of. Brady's and his father's persistence is what hundreds, even thousands, of other kids did not have.

Former Sports Illustrated editor Don Yaeger spent countless hours with Brady, writing stories and studying his dedication to the game. According to Yaeger, the college recruiting process that Brady put himself through constitutes a teachable lesson for all student-athletes coming out of high school. He said, "The greatest athletes in the world hate losing more than they like winning. Brady wasn't going to let a recruiting service determine his future. He was going to create his own path and was persistent enough to get Michigan to watch the video and offer him a scholarship. I think it worked out for him."

A school film crew films every game, but if that video isn't on a recruiting service website, create your own video. With all the smart phone video cameras out there today, making a recruiting video is easy. Or if you can afford it, pay a professional to do it.

No matter how it's created, here is what your video should have on it:

  • Slate that has your name, school, year of graduation, height, weight, position and 40 time
  • Second slate with any highlights you want coaches to see
  • Three to four minutes of great highlights. If you were on television, put it on. Add anything that showcases what you can do
  • Interview: this is extremely important, because college coaches want to go beyond your talent on the field. What is it about you that stands out. Why should a coach care?

Yaeger said, "Your personal brand is not only important in professional football, it's even more important when you are trying to get recruited. Think of it as your first business card. You have the opportunity to sell yourself, and at the end of the day that is what recruiting is all about—the ability to sell yourself in a crowded space."

It doesn't matter whether you are a quarterback or an offensive lineman. A video is the only way to sell yourself. If you don't feel like you have enough highlights from your school, go to a local facility and run through drills. Show college coaches that you have what it takes to get a shot, because that's all you need is a shot. Once you get it, make sure you do everything you can to catch the eye of the coaches.

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