How to Get Your Fut on the Pitch

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Foot skills or book skills: What's more important? We asked two top ACC coaches to go head-to-head in rating, on a scale of 1 to 10, character, academics, refined skill and raw talent.

Mike Brizendine, Virginia Tech men's soccer head coach       John Kerr, Duke men's soccer head coach
"An [athlete's] nature will determine a lot of things. If we have a good person who's honest and will work hard, doesn't cheat, doesn't steal, is kind to people, those [characteristics] … will carry over onto the field. They're not going to shortchange their defense." 10
10 "[I'm looking at] his values. What does he stand for? What does it mean to him to be a student-athlete at Duke? What are his goals and wishes and desires, and what is his work ethic like?"

"The worst scenario, for any coach in the country, [is when] a player doesn't succeed in the classroom. That's bad for the coach; that's bad for the player.

"At Virginia Tech, our [players] do very well. We actually led the men's program last year in academics, so it's not something we take lightly. We'll put the freeze on any student -athlete who comes to us [with] a transcript that doesn't meet our self made requirements."


"Character and academics are obviously high, especially at a place like Duke. You have to make sure that [an athlete] will not only get in, but survive. There's no point in getting somebody in at Duke if he's not going to survive the curriculum and workload that's required. It's something that we look at very carefully to see if they're the right fit for the school academically.

"If someone is really talented [but] has no desire to go to class or do the work, then I just move on."

"I think that's the last thing. I can train and teach skill, and I can help refine it through training sessions." 8
Refined Skill
8 "You need refined skill a little more than raw talent, because there are certain needs each position demands—and if you don't have the necessary skills, you're going to struggle no matter how talented that raw ability is."

"Raw talent [is] an important factor. Really, it gets you in the door. That's your first impression, like 'That kid is outstanding in the air,' or 'He's very fast.'

"After that, what will usually happen is, we'll notify the [athlete] and let him know that we enjoyed [meeting] him. If he feels the same way about us …he'll usually come in for an official visit. During that process, we have an opportunity to get into his character and academics."

Raw Talent
7 "We look at where players are now [and] where they can be, and we evaluate that potential. There are certainly a lot of players we've decided are worth taking a chance on because they have raw talent. [Going back to] character, we see [if] the players with that raw talent [are] willing to learn and to put the work in."

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