2009 Key Recruiting Checklist

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Literally hundreds of tasks are necessary to achieve your goal of playing at the college of your dreams—ranging from tearing it up on the field to making sure your No. 2 pencil is sharpened at SAT time. And each task, no matter how significant or how small, presents a risk and an opportunity. Use the following checklist to avoid the pitfalls and make yourself the best recruit possible.

Prior to junior year

Junior year

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Literally hundreds of tasks are necessary to achieve your goal of playing at the college of your dreams—ranging from tearing it up on the field to making sure your No. 2 pencil is sharpened at SAT time. And each task, no matter how significant or how small, presents a risk and an opportunity. Use the following checklist to avoid the pitfalls and make yourself the best recruit possible.

Prior to junior year

  • Set seasonal, yearly and overall high school athletic and academic goals
    • Write them down
    • Be realistic
    • Keep them where you'll see them regularly
    • Assess your progress at the end of each season/school quarter
  • Maintain good academic standing
    • Don't cut class
    • Strive for good grades
    • Take advantage of study halls and tutors
    • Don't cheat
    • Show respect to teachers and fellow students
    • Avoid detentions and suspensions
  • Identify athletic weaknesses; research safe and effective methods, or professionals, to help you eliminate them
  • Develop good relationships with teachers who will eventually write your college letters of recommendation
  • Get involved in extracurricular and volunteer activities
  • Be aware of your off-field lifestyle and the image it portrays
    • Choose friends wisely; avoid troublesome crowds
    • Keep online profiles clean
    • Avoid drugs, alcohol and tobacco
    • Don't fight
    • Don't break the law
    • Adhere to a reasonable curfew
  • Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss NCAA curriculum and grade requirements
  • Consider playing multiple sports to develop and display well-rounded athleticism
  • Maintain poise and sportsmanship at all times. College coaches watch you during competition, even when you are not playing. Always:
    • Cheer on teammates
    • Respond to referees and/or bad calls in a professional manner
    • Interact positively with coaches on the sideline
    • Keep your head up. Don't pout regardless of score or situation
    • Avoid fighting
    • Celebrate with class
  • Have all athletic competitions videotaped for future use
  • Create a filing system to organize athletic awards, newspaper clippings and outstanding achievements
  • Research the best non-schoolsponsored athletic leagues in your area—club teams, AAU, summer leagues, etc.
  • Participate in non-schoolsponsored athletic competition
  • Create a resume that includes academic and athletic achievements
  • Send initial contact letters to college coaches at schools you are interested in attending
    • Find name, address and other information about coach on school's website
    • Express your interest in playing for the program
    • Include athletic and academic resume
    • Attach a schedule of your games for the upcoming seasons
  • Create a filing system for materials and info you receive from colleges and coaches
  • Complete and return all questionnaires
  • Inform college coaches about camps and clinics you'll be attending
  • Attend camps and clinics at schools you are interested in attending
  • Begin pulling clips and creating a highlight tape
  • Attend a college competition in your sport
    • Contact parents of athletes on the college team's roster to find out if they're happy with their son's or daughter's experiences with the team
    • Observe the way the coach interacts with his team
    • Gauge the level of play compared to your ability
  • Assess your athletic ability
    • Talk to your coaches
    • Measure yourself against other players at your position in your state/district/conference
    • Compare your accomplishments to the high school accomplishments of players on rosters of colleges that you think you could play for
  • Begin thinking about the academic area of study you might want to major in, and research which schools excel in that area
  • Solicit information about colleges by talking to:
    • Friends
    • Guidance counselors
    • College's alumni
  • Talk with parents or guardians about:
    • Cost and what you can afford
    • Location
    • Academic opportunities and programs
    • Their academic and athletic expectations for you in college
  • Create a target list of colleges in each of the following categories:
    • Likely admission
    • Safety net
    • Reach
  • Send follow-up letters to coaches who haven't responded to your initial contact
  • Assess benefits of using a recruiting service
  • Familiarize yourself with the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Athlete
  • Open a dialogue with your high school coaches about the college coaches who have contacted them about you and the colleges that most interest you

Junior year

  • Register, prep for and take standardized tests
  • Register with NCAA Eligibility Center [must be done by end of junior year]
  • Schedule and take unofficial visits
    • Find time to meet with coaches around their busy schedules
    • Bring pen and notepad, and have a few questions ready about the program, the coach's level of interest and his or her plans to remain at the school during your four years
    • Provide coaches with your highlight tape and stat sheet
    • Talk to players on the team
    • Check out the facilities
    • Go to a class in your area of interest
    • Keep a journal to list pros and cons of each school and coaching staff after visits
  • Continue to update college coaches on your athletic successes
  • Update highlight tape with recent clips
  • Talk to athletes from your school who now play at the collegiate level. Ask about:
    • The level of competition
    • How college life and sports differ from their high school experiences
    • Any additional advice they have to offer
  • Update wardrobe with clothes appropriate for meetings with college coaches
  • Send thank you note after any meeting with a coach
  • Have high school coach call college coaches to recommend you as an athlete
  • Prepare a list of questions for coaches when they call (they can call after May 1 of your junior year for football and after July 1 for most other sports). Cover these topics:
    • Their level of interest
    • Chance of an official visit
    • Possibility of a scholarship
    • Who they have at your position (height, weight, stats)
    • Your upcoming game schedule and the possibility of their attendance

Senior year

  • Be prepared for an in-school visit from a college coach at any time
    • Have questions ready in your locker
    • Dress appropriately at all times
  • Retake standardized tests if necessary
  • Avoid senioritis—continue to take challenging courses and strive for good grades
  • Narrow down schools you're interested in and eliminate those in which you definitely have no interest
  • Plan and take official visits. Remember, only five are allowed
    • Bring pen and notepad. Have questions ready for meetings with coaches (see Communicating with a Coach, page 33)
    • Talk to as many players as possible, not just the happy ones
    • Go to a class in your field of interest
    • Stay on campus
    • Always conduct yourself properly
    • Keep a journal to list pros and cons of each school and coaching staff after visits
  • Set time standards as to when you want to take phone calls from coaches
  • Assess financial needs by talking with parents and various schools' financial aid offices
  • Apply for financial aid
  • Research and apply for alterative sources of funds
  • Once you begin receiving financial aid offers from colleges, share them with other coaches to improve your final offer
  • Create timetable for all application deadlines
  • Ask teachers for recommendations
  • Calculate your GPA and find out your class rank
  • Request official transcript from guidance counselor
  • Ask college coaches to waive application fees
  • Decide whether to apply early action or early decision
  • Write application essays early so you have time to edit and perfect them
  • Complete the rest of applications and mail before deadlines
  • Narrow college choices to your top three opportunities
  • Make final decision
  • Notify all college coaches you've been speaking with of your final decision
  • Contact your new college coach to receive strength and conditioning manual
  • Mail thank you letter and/or graduation party invite to
    STACK at:
    letters@stack.com or
    1422 Euclid Ave, Ste. 1550
    Cleveland, Oh 44115

Related links: 
Bob Sanders' Recruiting Experience

2009 Recruiting Terminology
Financial Aid 411
Divisional Breakdown 
NCAA Initial Eligibility Center
Self Marketing Tips
Communicating With a Coach
Gauging A Coach's Interest
Official College Visits
Researching Colleges

Key NCAA Rules & Regs


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