Don’t wait until senior year to learn about the recruiting process. If you want some serious reaction from coaches, you need to take serious action, starting as a freshman. We hit up National Collegiate Scouting Association president Chris Krause to get the goods on how you should be handling recruiting each year of high school.
“You can’t expect coaches to keep the process moving all the time, because the average coach [is] very limited in time by the NCAA and by recruiting budgets,” Krause says. “It’s up to you to keep the process moving.”
Get the ball rolling early, because “college coaches are recruiting the world,” Krause says. “If [your] competition is being proactive and [you’re not], they’ll assume you’re not interested.” Understanding NCAA recruiting rules is crucial to the success of this first step. The rules and regs constantly change, and staying abreast will save you from breaking them—and the headaches and heartaches of being penalized.
Also know the measurables for your sport [e.g, Football: 40-yard dash, vertical jump; Volleyball: standing reach, touch jump; Softball: pop times, ray and jug guns]. “Those are the types of little things [to know], so you know where you stack up."
Krause also recommends going to a D-I, -II and –III game or competition to learn the differences between the levels of play. You’ll benefit from this experience as you graduate to sophomore status.
Resume the recruiting process by starting your athletic résumé, noting the essentials. “[Coaches] want to know how tall, strong and fast you are [and] what you’re doing academically,” Krause says.
A paper evaluation isn’t the only analysis you need at this point. A scouting evaluation—from your high school coach or an independent third party—is also necessary to help you realistically determine where you stack up against higher competition.
By this time, look into compiling a skills tape, which you can send to a coach after writing a personal letter. “Don’t send videos unsolicited,” Krause warns. “Let the coach know you’re interested [in his program] and why.
“Recruiting is about relationships. The more chance you can help a coach build a relationship with you, the easier you make the process on him, and the more likely you’re going to be recruited.”
This year is also when you should be calling D-III coaches, who, unlike D-I or –II coaches, aren’t prohibited from calling you back. “[This] can really be a great tune-up for you, so by the time you get to your junior year, you’re really prepared for those phone calls.”
This stage is intense because as Krause explains, “what you do during your junior year really makes up a lot of minds.”
If you’re not receiving letters by now, better start putting ink to paper. “Writing a letter is critical,” Krause says. Be specific when addressing the coach [e.g., write “Dear Coach Smith,” not “Dear Coach”], and share what you like about his/her program and why you’re interested in playing for the team.
Open the [phone] lines of communication. For most sports, this is the year you can start receiving calls from D-I and –II coaches. Always return calls in a timely manner and be fully prepared for phone conversations by knowing about the school’s academic background, its athletic conference and the team’s style of play.
Krause recommends focusing on 10 to 20 schools you think could be a realistic fit, then proactively start talking to those coaches and scheduling unofficial visits.
“For bigger D-I programs, most scholarships are offered during the junior year,” Krause notes.
Didn’t get the offer you wanted? You can still take your game to college. “Keep the level of schools in your recruiting pool open at all times,” Krause advises. “For D-III, most of those coaches are waiting to see who signed D-I and who didn’t. And most of the time, tons of studentathletes weren’t recruited by D-I schools, and now they need to follow up with [coaches from other divisions].”
Visit ncsasports.org for more college recruiting 411.