The man or woman helping decide your athletic future isn’t just busy. He or she has an obsession, bordering on the verge of self-detriment but accompanied by potential rewards most other professions can’t offer.
Triple-digit-hour workweeks are the norm for college coaches. One, former Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, recently told the Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald he’d sometimes go into work “as early as 2:30.”
And when they’re not preparing for games, they’re investing millions of dollars and hours digging for talent to aid in winning them. But there are more than a few things athletes can do to get noticed, especially in today’s Information Age.
Here are five important ones:
Honestly assess your skills, academic ambitions, and what kind of program might be the best fit. According to the National Collegiate Scouting Association, only 6.7 percent of high school athletes go on to play in college at all, and only 1.7 percent will earn an athletic scholarship from an NCAA school. The majority of college athletic programs, believe it or not, only offer partial scholarships; Division III schools don’t at all but can offset an athlete’s costs via other forms of aid.
Reach Out and Respond
Send out film. Email coaches. Respond to all recruiting questionnaires and other correspondence. But be tactful. For the majority of athletes, recruiting is about relationships, not cold sales. Take advantage of email and social media (particularly direct messaging), but professionally and responsibly.
Recruiting experts contend that highlights and game film remain the No. 1 avenue for a coach to gain interest in a player. Put together some highlights -- professionally compiled and edited, no background music necessary -- and pick out your best game, then post them on a site such as YouTube. These also can be exported on a DVD and shared with coaches during visits.
Make the Most of Your Visits
Treat it like a job interview, because that’s what it is. Prepare beforehand. Come with some questions you want answered. Soak in the college’s atmosphere, people, and everything else it has to offer -- beyond the athletic experience. You are allowed as many unofficial visits as you want.
Attend Camps But Be Wary
The annual combine and camp circuit permeating college athletics is an investment for families that doesn’t always guarantee recruiting attention. Be sure a coach is interested before attending a camp for this purpose; otherwise, skill development and offseason improvement are the most you can expect to glean.
Focus on Grades
A coach is much less likely to recruit you if he knows you’re a liability in the classroom. Can you stay eligible? What does your ACT score say about your mental abilities? Where are you headed after college? Keep in mind a tiny fraction of collegiate athletes go on to play professional sports.