College Athletic Recruiting Services

There are many different recruiting services out there. While most, I believe have good intentions, some of them use fear tactics with parents to sell their service. Here is some information I found on a college recruiting expert and what they communicate to parents and students during speeches.

Attending a college camp will not really help your recruiting efforts.

Let’s be honest, if you are a college coach and you run a camp in the summer for 100+ high school athletes who may be local or may be from different parts of the country or region, you are doing it for two reasons: (1) to supplement your income or the income of the school, program, or assistant coaches. And (2) TO GIVE YOURSELF ACCESS TO HUNDREDS HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES WHO MAY BE INTERESTED IN YOUR SCHOOL AND PLAYING FOR YOUR TEAM.

If a coach has a doubt about a recruit, they may ask that recruit to attend their camp. While attending a football camp at Ohio State probably won’t get you recruited by Ohio State if you don’t have the size, speed, and skill to play there, here’s the hidden benefit. There is a good chance that the Ohio State camp will have coaches working at the camp from many different smaller colleges throughout the state or region. This is a common practice. As a rule of thumb, two schools that compete for the same student-athletes will not mix and match coaches at a camp (so Ohio State will not be inviting the Michigan coaching staff to their camp, in theory anyway), but a D1 school might have a bunch of coaches from D2 and D3 schools working at the camp and vice versa. A small D3 school can and will bring in D1 coaches to assist because the D3 coach knows the athletes they will be looking for at their camp are not going to be top D1 material and there is no fear of the D1 coach stealing campers in their next recruiting class. This isn’t a theory, this happens all the time, I know because coaches and players tell us.

Here is a quote from a D1 coach “Our campers get a feel for university life and the soccer program; this helps them evaluate us. Meanwhile, coaches are evaluating campers in an intense week of training; it’s an important part of our recruiting process, and many potential players have been identified in their way.” Take any camp invitation you get with a grain of salt. Some parents wonder whether the coach is interested in them if they get a camp invitation, and the simple answer is that, the coach won’t be interested in you until he or she sees you perform in live athletic competition of some capacity. If you are attending camps at colleges that fit your athletic talents and are communicating to the coaches that this school is indeed one of your potential choices, a college camp can be a huge boost to your recruiting efforts and can give you a distinct advantage over other players that have the desire to play for that school but haven’t given the coach a chance to evaluate their talent.

Write one paragraph about yourself and send it to 500 schools and if you really want to play, send out 180 letters to D1 schools, 300 to D2 schools, and 400 to Division 3 schools. No recommendations, no highlights, no press clippings.

Any 500 schools (or 880 using the second method)? While I do not advocate sending coaches an entire pile of newspaper clippings from when you were 12 years old, coaches need information on you and from you in order to make decisions. A recommendation from your coach or instructor can help as long as your coach or instructor has some sort of past athletic success that will make his or her recommendation mean more. My former summer coach played Division 1 baseball, was drafted by the Oakland A’s, is in the athletic hall of fame at his former college, and has coached summer and amateur baseball for over 30 years. Do you think college coaches listen to him when he calls them or writes recommendations for kids? You bet they do! If your coach is not that knowledgeable and writes you a recommendation, it’s probably won’t have as much weight.

As far as sending your “paragraph” to 880 schools, that’s borderline ridiculous! You need to target schools that are the right academic, athletic, and social fit. But before you do that, you need to find out what you are looking for and when you do, you will find that the number of schools that meet your criteria is much less than 500. Sending letters (or emails) to 500 schools is simply too many and it will be too difficult for the majority of these schools to recruit you. Waste of time and money. Recruiting is about building relationships, not sending out 500 random letters.

This advice doesn’t even address the problem of ability and where you can realistically play at and encouraging people to write 880 letters to colleges is just plain ridiculous as many kids don’t have the ability to play at that many schools and without factoring in finances, majors, size of school, location, and team needs, you are simply wasting your time.

If you haven’t received 25-40 letters, coaches don’t know who you are!

Why is 25-40 the magic number? What if you receive 24 letters or 17 letters? Doesn’t this mean that 24 college coaches know who you are? Yes it does. There is no magic number, some recruits receive 300 letters some receive 3. The key isn’t the number, it’s where they are coming from and what opportunities present themselves. If you get 20 letters from 20 schools and 15 are from schools you are interested in and can possibly play at, then who cares about the other letters you didn’t receive! Focus on the letters you did receive, respond to the coach and provide them everything they requested in the letter. If you get one letter from a school you like and get recruited, no one is going to care that you only got one letter.

You are not a D1 prospect if you don’t have at least 150 letters by the end of your freshman year.

As Frank Costanza says, “SERENITY NOW!” Some kids in high school don’t even play varsity in their freshman year and college coaches don’t watch JV games. Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity team as a sophomore and you know how he turned out. How many letters do you think he got his freshman year when he was 5-8 and weighed a 130 pounds playing jv basketball? Frank Thomas walked on to the Auburn baseball team. The only scholarship offer Shammond Williams (an NBA point guard) got was for band, so he walked on to North Carolina. Rocco Baldelli (former centerfielder for the Tampa Bay Devil rays) was the number 9 batter on high school team his junior year. His senior year he was the number 6 player in the June baseball draft. Kids mature at different ages, some gain 30 pounds, some grow 6 inches, some get stronger or faster, and depending on the level of talent at your school, you may not even get a chance till junior year. My high school basketball team had 4 starters go onto play college basketball in one year, do you think any sophomores got playing time that year as the team marched towards the state championship? NO! There are also varying degrees of Division 1 and while the Notre Dame football program can afford to send out 150 letters to one recruit, the Iona baseball team or the Sienna soccer team probably can’t and won’t for that matter, but they too have scholarships to offer. I played Division 1 baseball and didn’t even play baseball in high school my freshman, sophomore, or junior year! The only kids getting 150 letters by their freshman year are the very elite men’s and women’s players throughout the country that are mature beyond their age and probably play football or basketball!

AAU, junior Olympic and Club sports don’t translate into scholarships and coaches only go see players they have already heard of.

Neither does playing 18 games at the high school level in the middle of Montana. Getting recruited is partly about exposure, and the more you play and the further you play from home, the more chances you have to be seen by college coaches. First off, how do college coaches hear of players? Well, they go to games, tournaments and camps and see players. That’s their job. They go to events to see players for the first time, not just players they have heard of. College coaches usually migrate to events where they will see more student-athletes of skill in one place (hint, not high school games!). AAU and Olympic development teams don’t take every kid that has a glove or a pair of cleats; these programs are usually for more skilled players who dedicate more time to the game.

With that being said, if a college coach has to choose a game to go to (a high school game or AAU tournament) they are probably going to choose the AAU tournament. Playing AAU and Club ball doesn’t guarantee you will be recruited, but it’s a step in the right direction. Kids who aren’t interested in continuing their athletic career in college are at the beach in the summer or fishing. Kids who are interested in being college athletes are playing on travel teams in the summer. A D3 coach I know in New York begged his school for 2 years to let him fly to Las Vegas for an AAU tournament. He finally got to go and there were 70 teams in attendance and he will be actively recruiting many of the players he saw at the tournament. Why did he want to go to this tournament? Because he knew he would be exposed to 1,000 high school basketball players that most likely want to play in college. His other option was to attend 300-500 high school basketball games to see that many skilled players, which option would you choose? I know other coaches that recruit their entire team from a single tournament each year. Since your high school season takes place at roughly the same time as a college season, college coaches do not have the time to see you play much or at all during high school and the summer is an extremely important time-period for college coaches to recruit.

The Providence College Lacrosse team signed 11 players from 9 states one year to National Letters of Intent. The majority of players were discovered and scouted at premiere lacrosse tournaments and showcases that took place throughout the summer. This is the only time the coaching staff has to recruit and they go to where the top players are playing and they get to see 100 to 200 kids play in a single day.

Another D1 baseball coach said that at one point 20 of his 32 players on his team were recruited from a single tournament held each summer in his state. Players who don’t attend this one event are at a HUGE disadvantage come recruiting time.

You aren’t a Division I prospect just because you receive a few letters. If you don’t get at least 100 by your junior season, forget about getting a full ride to a D-I. Instead, keep the mail from the smaller schools.

Hmm. What if I get 99 letters? Do I give up because it wasn’t 100? Did you hear the story about a football prospect who got 180 letters from the University of Nebraska but never received one call from the coaching staff and didn’t get recruited by them.  In reality, after football and basketball, there are very few individual programs that will send a 100 letters to one prospect! The only teams that can do that are nationally renowned teams at schools with lots of money, but there are hundreds if not thousands of D1 teams that can’t afford to send a 100 letters to a single prospect. On personal phone call from a coach will do more for them than 20 form letters. There is a D1 lacrosse coach I know that has a recruiting budget of $200 dollars for the entire year. How many letters do you think they send out with that budget? Step away from the D1 being talked about here which is D1 football and basketball, i.e., the players you see on TV on Saturday afternoons or in bowl games and NCAA tournaments. There are many D1 schools and teams you have never heard of that while they are D1, they simply don’t have the money or exposure to send out thousands of letters. They are small schools with small programs, with coaches that often recruit in their home state or the surrounding area, but they still have scholarships to offer.

Just because you received a letter doesn’t mean you are being recruited! Colleges send out thousands of letters to recruits.

Now I am confused? First you tell me that if I get 100 letters that I am a “full ride” prospect and have the potential for a “full ride” because colleges know who I am and are interested in me. Now you are telling me that just because I got a letter doesn’t mean I am going to be recruited? Which is it? If colleges send out thousands of letters, why should I be excited because I got one of them, when you are telling me not to be excited? – In reality, a letter doesn’t mean that much and many big time programs do sent out a lot. What you are really interested in is college coaches who call you personally. A coach might send out 500 letters but only make 100 phone calls to their top recruits and wait and see what they get back from the 500 or so letters they send out. Getting a letter doesn’t mean you are being recruited and getting a letter doesn’t mean you are not being recruited. A letter simply means a coach has your name and address and is aware that you play a sport. What happens next is ultimately up to you. You can either try and build a relationship with that coach, or you can wait for other letters and phone calls that may never come.

The other way to look at this is, If colleges send out thousands of letters to many kids who aren’t being recruited, then why are you encouraging me to send out thousands of letters to colleges? If the college letter has little meaning to me, why would my letter have any meaning to them?