Take It From College Coaches On The Recruiting Trail
A recent article in The Athletic took a closer look at football recruiting through the lens of the assistant coaches who carry much of the load on the recruiting trail. Via anonymous surveys, those coaches shared their view of the college football recruiting process, what they don’t like about the process and, most notably, what will turn them off on a recruit. While their answers varied, if you want to be recruited to play football in college, try to avoid these mistakes:
• Don’t Ask About Playing Time
It’s natural to want to get in the game once you get to college, but asking a coach how much you’ll play or if you’ll start as a freshman can convey a sense of entitlement. Asking those questions may also put a coach on the spot where they risk either lying to a recruit or making a promise they can’t keep. As one coach put it, “if I’m talking about playing time, I’m recruiting the wrong kid. Or asking me about playing time, that tells me everything I need to know.”
While some recruits may believe wanting to start as a freshman makes them appear competitive, football coaches see it differently. In fact, they’re more impressed by the recruit who’s taking nothing for granted and is willing to come to campus and compete to earn a spot in the lineup.
• Don’t Play Hard To Get
If you don’t return a coach’s calls or answer their emails or texts, they’re going to assume you’re not interested and move on. Remember that coaches on the recruiting trail have a limited window for recruiting and they can’t afford to waste time trying to woo a recruit that’s playing hard to get. Coaches want to build a relationship and a rapport with you. And most are intuitive enough to understand if you prefer one specific means of communication (phone, text, email, Facetime). But you need two people to create a relationship and a rapport, and if you don’t hold up your end, coaches will move on to someone else.
• Don’t Be Dishonest
As noted above, a coach’s time is limited. And wasting that time by not telling the truth about your interest or intentions is a good way to get a bad reputation in recruiting circles. Recruiting is part of the job for college coaches and they realize not every recruit will end up at their school. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings or jeopardizing your relationship with a coach by telling them you’re not interested. In fact, being honest about your intentions with a coach will actually garner more respect for you. And that respect could come in handy should your situation change or a coach moves to another school later on.
• Don’t Be Too Engaged With Social Media
Using social media to raise your profile is actually encouraged. But, for most recruits, social media should be just one component of their recruiting process. Don’t let it be all-consuming. Don’t worry about growing your follower count. Don’t try to generate cheap attention by announcing that you’ve narrowed down the list of schools you’re considering. Don’t feel like you have to constantly promote yourself.
Granted, social media is a two-way street and many programs will publicize a scholarship offer to a recruit they know will never sign with them solely to legitimize their own program. On the other hand, many coaches and recruiters will be wary of a recruit who they feel might be too hyped on social media. As one coach in The Athletic article put it, “The most annoying thing I see is when guys self-promote themselves into scholarship offers because they know how to work social media or they know how to work the system. They end up overrated.”
Finally, simply don’t be too engaged. Limit the time you spend on recruiting, quit worrying about texts or IMs, turn your phone off, and take the time to enjoy your life. It’s OK to miss a call or to not immediately respond to a coach. In fact, many coaches will be wary of the recruit who is always around to take their calls or immediately answer their emails or texts, when you could (or should) be sleeping, studying, practicing, relaxing, or even studying film.
• Don’t Ask About NILs
Even though the NCAA has just begun allowing athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL), a recruit who asks a coach about potential NIL deals can be perceived as self-centered. There’s nothing wrong with considering NIL opportunities once you get to college, but during recruiting you should simply consider it a perk and keep your focus on finding the program and school that’s right for you.
Some schools may be able to promote NIL packages that are available to every team member, and others may highlight how their brand will enhance your “brand.” That said, remember that coaches and school employees are prohibited from arranging NIL deals. In the end, any NIL deals that come your way are your responsibility. Asking a coach about how their school can help your NIL portfolio is akin to asking a coach to do your homework.
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