On The Radar: What You Need to Increase Your Value to Recruiters

Recruiting is exhausting. It takes a tons of time, discipline, effort and patience. And for a 16 or 17-year-old young person, those are things you don’t really have. Recruiting is very much an adult level game with teenaged players on one side and that can make an already difficult situation sometimes seem impossible. So how do you make it easier? How can you handle it? How can you get “On the Radar”?

The easy answer could be, “I’ll just let my parents handle it.” While that may be easy it isn’t the right answer. Coaches are not trying to recruit your parents. First and foremost they are trying to recruit you. Coaches are basically trying to give you a job to play for their team. Your pay is your scholarship money. So what are you doing to earn that pay? What are you doing to get hired? That’s the best way to look at recruiting. It is one long, exhausting job search. Who you are and what you do is you make up your resume.

So what is your value? That all depends on what you do or don’t do.

PART 1: ON THE FIELD

This is what gets the attention of the coaches. Sure academics are the most important thing ultimately, but let’s be honest. What you do on the field is what gets you in the door. Are you an average or a great athlete? We like to ask, Are you a game changer or a role player? Will you be an instant asset that changes the face of the team, or are you going to be a solid contributor?

Most coaches can see what they need by watching your highlight or watching your film. One of the problems that coaches face are poorly made highlights. Your highlight has to represent you so if you try to do it yourself or have a “friend” do it, you are most likely not doing yourself a favor. A poorly made highlight can often do more damage to your value. You have to ensure that your highlight solidly showcases your value. It needs to show everything that you can offer a team. To properly make a highlight you need to know what the majority of the coaches need to see. That is why you should hire a professional company who is skilled at producing athlete highlights.

We have been making player highlights for over 12 years. More of our athletes get offers directly by coaches watching the highlight. With our design and structure the coaches most commonly do not need to see any other film after they watch our highlights. That is what you need to focus on because your highlight is basically the top of your resume, the first thing that coaches see that tells the most about you and your value. So get your highlight done professionally.

PART 2: IN THE CLASSROOM

Every time I talk to a college coach about a player the first thing they as is, “How are his/her grades?”. The higher your grades, the better your test scores, the easier you are to get through admissions. Colleges are very competitive academically. You have to be able to handle the course load and graduate. Colleges do not want academic issues. That is one problem they don’t need. And academics are something that you can easily handle on your end.

The most important thing to consider is that Academics = Dollars. How you do academically in high school ends up earning you money in college. Most athletes think that their junior year grades are the most important because that’s when they start getting recruited heavily. That is totally wrong. ALL grades are important, but when coaches start to recruit you as a junior your junior year grades will not be ready yet. All the coaches have to go on are your freshman and sophomore grades. So in effect, you are being recruited academically in 9th and 10th grade, but the coaches won’t see that most often until your junior year.

When you first start high school many young people think have a hard time transitioning into 9th grade out of middle school. Many are just happy to be in high school and take their schoolwork very lightly…Don’t. You need to work hard from the word “go”, or it will hurt you in the future.

Example: I had an athlete, let’s call him James, and he had a 3.2 GPA high junior year. A 3.2 is an excellent GPA. We got James a ton of Division I interest through his highlight alone. His high school coach told me, “Every day a different division I coach was coming into his office to see James and every day they would look at his transcripts and walk out.” I asked why? James never sent me his transcripts so I only knew of his 3.2 from his junior year. Well, this James had a cumulative 1.4 Core GPA, that’s cumulative between his freshman and sophomore years. Sure he showed improvement as a junior, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. James did not show gradual improvement. He did not show that he could advance academically. He had one good year and that wasn’t enough for the coaches. It did not give him enough value.

James did finally get a Division I offer, but it wasn’t from a school that would play on a bigger stage. It wasn’t a Nebraska, or Iowa (both of whom were interested in him initially). And his academic difficulties followed him through college and negatively affected his growth with, and value to, the team.

So what did I mean when I wrote Academics=Dollars? Well, you saw the first example. Bad grades cost James a bigger scholarship worth more money. It also cost him the chance to play for a bigger team that provides a higher chance of getting drafted in the NFL. So James potentially lost an NFL contract all because of bad grades.

But more directly, academics can get you money from a school that can turn a full ride into a partial scholarship. A college only has a certain number of scholarships to offer. With those scholarships they only have a certain amount of money to offer as well. So, if a college has tuition of $35,000 per year, but they only have $28,000 to offer you based on your athletic ability then how do they make up the difference? The answer is Academics. Those grades that you earn in high school are valuable. You may not think you are getting paid for those grades, and you aren’t…not in high school. But you can get paid for your grades in college. And bad grades can cost you a lot of money.

Example: I worked with two students from the same school. We’ll call them Curtis and Tyrell. Both played on the same team, both were in their senior season. Curtis was a big lineman. Tyrell was a Defensive Back. Division IAA (FCS) schools were recruiting them both. Curtis had a 3.5 GPA and a 1060 on his SAT (2 part). Tyrell had a 2.6 GPA and an 1100 on his SAT (2 part). When it came time for their schools to offer them money they each had different results.

Curtis received a full ride. Tyrell was offered $20,000 out of $26,000. Tyrell called me and asked, “Mr. Matt, why was I only offered $20,000 and not a full ride?” I asked Tyrell, “How are your grades?” And there was the answer. Because Tyrell only earned a 2.6 he wasn’t academically valuable enough for the admissions department to offer any academic scholarship money. They had other students who had better grades and that money needed to go to them. Curtis made the admissions department’s job very easy. They were able to augment any of the athletic money with solid academic money, which gave Curtis a full ride.

So Tyrell didn’t work as hard academically in high school and it cost him $6,000. That’s a LOT of money. The good news is Tyrell has been on the honor roll every semester in college. He is doing great on and off the field. That also tells me that he could have been getting honor roll in high school all along.

Don’t sell yourself short. Academics are incredibly valuable. Even if you are trying for a Division III school, most of those schools only offer academic money. And I have had many schools offer $13,000 of straight academic money to my athletes. That was the max they could offer, but they ended up paying my athletes $13,000 for doing well in high school. Would you like to earn $13,000 or more? Then study hard, work hard, get extra help and make the sacrifices necessary to ensure you get excellent grades in high school. That makes you very valuable to coaches. Remember, Academics = Dollars.

PART 3: CHARACTER MATTERS

The one value that can make or break a player is character. No matter how good your academics or athletic ability, if you have bad character, if you are a discipline problem, coaches will most often not want to be bothered.

Coaches have to run a team. They have to have a cohesive unit that works well. They need a disciplined team and they don’t need any rogues on the team stirring up trouble and taking them off of their main objective…winning. If you are a problem child in school and difficult on your high school team then you most likely will be difficult in college too. Coaches have enough to worry about without having to babysit you and they won’t waste their time.

If a coach is interested in you the first line of defense is your coach. If they talk to your coach and your coach says that you are a problem that just decreases your value. The coach sees you day in and day out. They see how hard you work, how positive or negative you are. Your high school coach knows what you bring to the team both positive and negative. Do you have a bad attitude? Do you talk back to the coach? Do you fight with other players? Your high school coach sees all of that. And the only person the college coach has to talk to about it is your coach.

That being said there are also personality conflicts between high school coaches and players. The player may be a good, hard working young person, but for some reason the coach just doesn’t like them. I have seen that happen too many times to count. Most often the coach doesn’t necessarily dislike the athlete, they just like another athlete more and they play favorites. (Check back in the future for my article about Coaches Playing Favorites).

For the most part, if you keep your nose clean, behave and are a team player in high school, your coach will not have a problem with you and will be able to positively vouch for your character. Your character evaluation doesn’t stop with your high school coach.

If your recruiter is really interested in you they will take that extra step to see what kind of person you really are. They will do this by talking to the people you least expect: Librarians, Guidance Counselors…even Janitors. That’s right. I like to explain this my using one of my favorite sayings:

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him.” – Samuel Johnson

That means, how you treat regular people every day. You can always suck up to your coach, or a teacher or someone popular in hopes to get ahead, but how do you treat the average person who can offer you nothing in return? How do you treat a server at a restaurant? How do you treat the workers in the cafeteria? They are not going to have any direct impact on your career, but do you treat them with respect? That is character. That is what coaches love and need on their teams, people of character.

There is a new wrinkle when it comes to character, Social Networking. That’s a huge trap for young people today. They think they can say anything they want on the Internet and it won’t have any negative repercussions on their future. They think it’s all fun and games. It may be fun…. until a college recruiter sees it.

Consider Yuri Wright, a 4-star Cornerback from Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. He was being heavily recruited by Michigan, but then the Michigan coach saw his twitter account. Some of the questionable things Yuri tweeted caused the coach to call his character into question. Read the article from ChatSports.com to see what Yuri tweeted, http://www.chatsports.com/michigan-wolverines/a/Yuri-Wrights-tweets-are-why-Michigan-stopped-recruiting-him-10-2-1807

Michigan did not want a player who would tweet something like that to represent their team in the future. When you tweet you are expressing yourself and how you think and feel. What you say could rub a coach the wrong way and cost you a lucrative scholarship offer. In this case it cost Yuri a deal with Michigan.

He made out okay in the end and got a deal with Colorado, but you can never be too sure. All coaches have a different evaluation of character and different standards. Just because Yuri got a deal it doesn’t mean it will work out for you too. It is always better to be safe.

I had a person example with one of my athletes. Let’s call him Derek. Derek is Black. His parents hired me to work with him, train him and get him a scholarship. Once he signed up I looked for his Twitter account. I found a few questionable tweets and I printed them out for him. When I approached Derek I ask him about a few tweets. Here is one of them, “I don’t like White people very much.”

I read him the tweet and I asked, “So Derek, I’m white does that mean you don’t like me?” Derek looked sheepish and said that he was only fooling around. It was during the Trayvon Martin incident so some emotions were high. I asked, “So you didn’t mean that?” He said, “No”. I said, “I know you don’t, but what if a coach who doesn’t know you sees that?” “What if they are offended by that?” That got my point across.

Derek was a great kid and I didn’t want to see his career screwed up because he didn’t think before he posted something. If you are emotional and hot about something your best bet is to walk away from your phone or computer, take a few hours and look at what you want to post before you hit send. Don’t post on emotion. Too many people do that and it can really hurt your career.     Coaches read posts…so “Think before you Tweet”.

Character can make or break you. Be a person of strong character. Be a leader not a follower. Stay out of and away from trouble. If you hang with people who are troublemakers, hang with different people. Spend your time with people with like-minded goals and objectives. They will help you flourish and succeed. Keep your character strong.

SUMMARY

There are important things to remember about building a strong resume to get recruited. What you are is what you make of yourself. Hard work leads to your improved ability on the field and that gets the attention of the recruiters. Work hard in the classroom as well. Work VERY hard. Academics = Dollars and you need to get good grades or that can hurt your chances at a good college. Character Matters. Stay out of trouble and do the right things. Character can make or break an athlete. Represent Yourself Well.

Each of these three areas make up you as an athlete; On the Field – What you do, In the Classroom – What you know, Character – Who you are. These three areas are important to college recruiting, give you value and can get you On the Radar so you can “Know Your Goal”.

If you have any questions contact me Recruitboss@KnowYourGoal.com, Twitter: @Recruitboss, Facebook.com/Recruitboss.

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