Recruiting resources

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Our Recruiting Resources will help organize and manage your recruiting process.  For additional information, check out our Blog page.

Recruiting timeline

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If you wait until your senior year in high school to start the recruiting process, the only sport you may be playing in college will be intramurals. You might dominate, but that won’t pay the tuition. In today’s competitive college athletic environment, the recruiting process actually should start earlier than most people think. College coaches are looking to connect, develop and maintain relationships with athletes as early as their freshman year in high school. In fact, some athletes commit to a college before they ever even suit up for their high school team.

Unless you are an exception to the rule, freshman year is an ideal time to start the college recruiting process. You don’t have to start as a freshman, but it gives you the best chance at a successful recruiting experience. The earlier you start, the more time you have to learn about all your college options, to research colleges and to plan college visits.

Given the fact that recruiting is really a four year process, you really need to follow a recruiting timeline. There are many tasks to do if you want a successful recruiting experience.

Fall in love with being a student and an athlete! Passion is a must for every student athlete that wants to play in college.

Make good decisions and commit to doing things the right way, on and off the field.

Enlist your parents to be your administrative assistants.

Review the NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete.

Inform your high school guidance counselor of your desire to play in college.

Familiarize yourself with the recruiting rules.

Ask your current coach for an honest assessment of your abilities and where he/she projects you as a college athlete.

Research and identify a list of colleges that match your abilities and in which you have an interest.

Research the athletic benchmarks necessary to play at the colleges you want to attend and set athletic goals.

Alert both your high school coach and summer coach of your desire to play in college.

Begin building an athletic resume and start accumulating video clips for a highlight video.

Send an introductory email to the coaches at the colleges in which you have an interest.

Be careful on social media. College coaches watch the social media behavior of athletes they are interested in.

Work hard on the field and in the classroom. After all, we are talking about going to college.

Take the PSAT to determine where you stand academically.

Use the NCAA Division I core course worksheet to make sure you are on track with the core course requirements.

Meet with your coach to review his or her assessment of your abilities.

Review and update your list of appropriate colleges. Create a Favorites List of 20-30 colleges at levels you realistically qualify for.

Check the entrance requirements at the colleges on your Favorites List. Even if they offer you an athletic scholarship, you still have to get into the school!

Fill out the Recruiting Questionnaires for the colleges on your Favorites List.

Reach out to the coaches at the colleges on your Favorites list expressing interest in their program.

Ask your coach or an objective third party for an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.

Research how coaches in your sport evaluate athletes.

Develop a plan to work on your weaknesses and enhance your strengths.

Pick a quality summer team to play for. It doesn’t have to be the best team, but it should be a team with solid coaching, a good schedule and one where you will have a significant role. You can’t be seen or get better if you don’t play.

Sign up for a few strategic camps and/or showcase events. Pick events where coaches from the schools you are pursuing will be in attendance.

Discuss the family college budget with your parents. Most athletic scholarships are partial scholarships, so family budget might be a factor in which colleges you pursue.

Play every game and finish every play as if a college coach is watching.

Work hard on the field and in the classroom. After all, we are talking about going to college.

Use the NCAA Division I core course worksheet to make sure you are on track with the core course requirements.

Review and update your Favorite Colleges list.

Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Take the SAT or ACT.

Create a highlight video and download it to YouTube or Vimeo. Include the link in any correspondence you have with college coaches.

Get your current coach involved as a reference. Ask him or her to reach out to your 5 to 7 favorite colleges. Provide them with an athletic resume and the contact information for the coaches at each college. The easier you make it for your coach, the more they will be involved.

Meet with your coach to review his or her assessment of your abilities.

Review and update your list of appropriate colleges. Maintain a Favorites List of 20-30 colleges at levels you realistically qualify for.

Schedule two or three unofficial visits to colleges that have expressed an interest in you.

Prepare a list of questions to ask college coaches.

Prepare yourself for questions a coach might ask you.

Attend any camps or combines that make sense.

Send follow up emails to the colleges you have not heard back from.

If you aren’t generating much interest yet, DON’T PANIC, step up your efforts and reconsider the colleges you are pursuing.

Don’t stop pursuing colleges just because a few coaches have expressed an interest. Keep your options open until you sign a National Letter of Intent.

Find a summer team that makes sense, where you will have a significant role and play against quality opponents.

Keep track of where you stand with each college.

Be careful on social media. College coaches pay attention to the social media behavior of recruits.

Work hard on the field and in the classroom. After all, we are talking about going to college.

If you haven’t found your college, step up your efforts. Follow up with the colleges in which you have interest and explore other options.

Ask your current coach to review your list of favorite colleges and ask he or she if they would reach out to a few more.

Re-take the SAT or ACT if necessary. The higher your score, the more colleges you can consider.

Connect with the coaches at the colleges you are pursuing via email, Twitter or you can even give them a call.

Work hard on the field and in the classroom. After all, we are talking about going to college.

Review and update your Favorite Colleges list.

Meet with your coach to review his or her assessment of your abilities.

Review and update your list of appropriate colleges. Maintain a Favorites List of 20-30 colleges at levels you realistically qualify for.

Get any financial aid forms submitted as early as possible.

Keep in contact with coaches who have contacted you, or coaches at schools in which you have interest.

If you have financial aid needs, don’t be afraid to let coaches know that.

Request final transcripts to be sent to the NCAA.

Once you accept a scholarship offer from a school, get the college team’s suggested workout schedule and do it.

Send Emails

Sample Initial Email

Sample Follow-up Email

Twitter Instructions Download as PDF

1. Create a Twitter "Recruiting Account"

- Use a clear face picture for your Profile Photo.

- Use a sport-specific picture for your Header Photo.

- Link a video for college coaches to view in your Resume.

2. Use the Placyed Matching Engine to Identify "My Favorite Colleges"

- Using the Playced Matching Engine and the Search By College Name tab build a list of at least 30 colleges that interest you as a student athlete.

- Include dream, realistic and fallback schools on that list.

- Pursue more realistic schools than the others.

3. Connect with Coaches From Your "My Favorite Colleges" Using Your Twitter "Recruiting Account"

- Follow the coach and the program Twitter accounts of each college on your list.

- Connect with all of the coaches on each school’s staff.

- Once a coach follows you back, send a direct message to that coach expressing interest in their program.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your recruiting video.  In fact, a 10 minute video with the “Rocky” theme song playing in the background might do more harm than good.  Keep in mind, college coaches aren’t looking to watch a commercial, your recruiting video is merely a way for a coach to form an initial impression of your abilities.  It is the first step of the recruiting process. It does not guarantee a scholarship and it won’t make you something you are not.  With modern technology, most smart phone videos will work just fine!

Given those facts, you need to understand the role of video in recruiting, how to create an effective highlight video and how to deliver it to the right coaches.  When it comes to college recruiting, the first impression you make on a college coach might be the difference between getting a scholarship and playing intramurals for your fraternity.  Since your recruiting video might be your first impression with a college coach, here’s my 2 cents worth on recruiting videos.

The Role of video in college recruiting

Last year, we interviewed Erik Pulverenti, the General Manager of media for Hudl.  If you participate in high school athletics, you know about and probably have used Hudl, a cloud-based video sharing platform.  When we asked Mr. Pulverenti “What role does video play in an athlete’s recruiting process?” here was his answer:

“Discovery is the name of the game when it comes to college recruiting. Every year we hear about college coaches finding athletes because of their highlight reel. This applies to all levels and every sport. Whether you want to play DI or DIII, a highlight reel can get you in front of recruiters. Quite simply, video has the ability to connect the right players with the right coaches.”

The reason video has become so critical in the college recruiting process is because there are two absolutes with respect to video:

  • Video doesn’t lie and
  • Video does not have an opinion.

Video provides an objective way for college coaches to decide if they are interested in talking with you.  This is the primary recruiting benefit to game film and videos. 

In addition to allowing a college coach to evaluate your abilities, there are many other benefits to video.  Game film allows an athlete to review performance on the field, focus on areas to work on and is also used as a preparation tool to scout opponents.  Finally, video makes it easier for a coach to analyze technique and suggest ways to get better.  All of these benefits will make it more likely for you to land a college scholarship.

How to create an effective recruiting video

A recruiting video is going to give you a competitive advantage against every college recruit that doesn’t have one. There is no quicker way to have a college coach see you compete. I highly suggest that you invest the time and energy into creating a video of your skills that you can be proud of.  Consider your recruiting video as a “virtual handshake” or introduction to any college program in the country.

Here are some helpful hints on how to create an effective highlight video:

  • Keep it short: Two or three minutes is long enough. A coach is going to decide if he or she is interested in the first 45 seconds.
  • Put your Best Highlights First: You only get one chance at a first impression.
  • Post Your Video on YouTube or Vimeo: Post your video online and provide college coaches the link in your first correspondence.
  • Know What Coaches Want to See: Different sports require different approaches. For example, baseball and softball coaches prefer video of your skills rather than game footage.  Highlight videos for sports like basketball and football are the opposite.
  • Show all Your Skills: Showcase all your skills and use clips that show your athleticism.
  • Use spot shadows when necessary.  You need to stand out from the rest of the athletes.  Your Hudl highlights will make this easy.
  • If your highlight video doesn’t make you look like a stud, don’t send it yet!

Some of the most effective videos I’ve seen are ones created by the athlete.  Certainly, if you have the resources a professional videographer is an option, but no matter who creates it, make sure you follow the above suggestions.

How to deliver your recruiting video

There are only so many ways to get your video into the hands of a college coach.  You can:

  • Send an email with a link to your video to the coaches at colleges that match your abilities,
  • Create an online profile with a recruiting service and wait for the scholarship offers to start rolling in the door, or
  • Post a tweet that says “Check out my highlight video”. 

In my opinion, the only method that makes any sense is the first one.  You have to connect with college coaches that make sense for your abilities and provide them the link.  Certainly sending a link to an online resume will work also, but the point is that you need to be proactive with colleges you are interested in and deliver the video to those coaches.

Many recruits think that they can sit back and wait for college coaches to magically notice them. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It is your responsibility to get YOUR recruiting video in the hands of the programs you want to be a part of. Use that personal email + your quality video to make the best first impression on college coaches.

For most high school athletes talking to a college coach about a potential scholarship can be nerve-racking. I get it, you don’t want to say or do anything that might hurt your chances for that scholarship and you might even be wondering if you should ask any questions at all!  While I understand the concern, you have to realize that college coaches are people just like you and I. They aren’t psychoanalyzing every word you say, or making mental notes about your grammar. They just want to get to know you as an athlete, a student and a person. They are looking for the athletes who will best fit with their program.  Offering an athletic scholarship to a recruit is a big investment and they want to make an educated decision.  Really, their job depends on it.

The best way to make a good impression when talking with a college coach is to be prepared. Since you don’t know when that first phone call might come, you need to get ready now. Write down some questions to ask a coach and be ready to answer any questions he or she might have. When you’re on the phone with a college coach take a deep breath, be respectful, talk slowly and calmly. When you go on a recruiting visit, stand up straight, look the coach in the eye, be confident and polite. 

While you certainly don’t want to talk scholarship dollars in the first conversation, most questions you might have are perfectly fine.  Your questions will help the coach get to know you.  Be sure to ask questions that will help you decide if you’re really interested in their program.  Here are some ideas for questions you might have for a college coach.

Questions about the process

Asking a college coach about the recruiting process at his or her school is perfectly fine and in fact, in most instances should be encouraged.  If you understand how you will be evaluated, what information the coaches need from you and where you stand in the process, your recruiting journey will be much easier.  You may have other questions, but here are my top 8 to ask about the recruiting process.

  • Would you like the contact information for my current coach?
  • Do you need any additional information from me?
  • What do need to do to be evaluated by your staff?
  • How many roster spots are available my graduation year?
  • Will you have a need at my position?
  • At this time, do you know where I fit on your recruiting board?
  • Have you offered scholarships to other players in my graduating class? At my position?
  • Have any other athletes in my class accepted offers?

Questions about academics

Asking questions about the academic aspects of being a student-athlete can only be viewed in a positive light.  It shows maturity and it demonstrates the fact that you realize that you are going to college to get an education, in addition to playing your sport.  Since academics is the #1 tiebreaker between two athletes of similar abilities, asking questions about the academic situation at a school might actually give you an advantage over your competition.  Here are my top 7 questions to ask a college coach about the academic situation at a program.

  • What are the admission requirements for a student-athlete?
  • What are some of the most popular majors for athletes on your team?
  • Will my major be a problem with the athletic schedule?
  • Are tutors available to help with specific courses?
  • Does your team have an academic advisor?
  • Do most of your players graduate in four years?
  • What types of academic scholarships are available?

Questions about what it’s like to be on the team

Finally, the most important questions you can ask are questions about what it’s like to be a member of the team.  After all, you will be spending a significant portion of your college life at practice, team meetings and games.  You can certainly ask the coaches these questions, but you might also want to ask some of the current players for their perspective.  Here are a few questions you might consider on this topic.

  • Are the players on your team close with each other?
  • Do teammates usually live together?  What is the housing situation freshman year?
  • Do student-athletes stay on campus during the summer?
  • What is a typical day like for a player during the season?
  • What are the off-season expectations for players?
  • What happens if I get injured?

For many athletes the thought of talking to a big, mean, scary college coach is intimidating.  I get it, you don’t want to say or do anything that might hurt your chances for a scholarship.  That said, college coaches are people just like you and I.  They aren’t psychoanalyzing every word you say, or making mental notes about your body language.  They just want to get to know you as an athlete, a student and a person.  An athletic scholarship is a big investment for a college and the coaches take the process of handing out scholarships seriously. 

The best way to make a good impression when talking with a college coach is to be prepared. Since you don’t know when that first phone call might come, you need to be ready now. Write down questions to ask a coach and be ready to answer any questions he or she might have. When you are on the phone be respectful, talk slowly and calmly.  When you go on a recruiting visit, stand up straight, look the coach in the eye, be confident and polite. In preparation for your next conversation with a coach, here my top 10 questions a college coach might ask and some help with your answers:

1. “How are your grades?”

For many coaches this will be the first question asked.  Academics are a priority at most colleges and coaches don’t want players who are going to struggle to stay eligible.  If your grades aren’t great make sure the coaches know you understand the importance and that you are taking steps to improve in that area.  Find a tutor and/or consider taking an ACT or SAT review course to improve your academic standing.  Finally, understand that if you don’t meet the admission requirements at a coach’s university you have zero chance for an athletic scholarship from that school.

2. “What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player?” 

Here’s your chance!  This is not the time to be modest.  Be confident but not boastful in your abilities.  Give specific examples of your strengths, but don’t overdo it.  For example, if you’re the team captain say something like “I was lucky enough to be selected as team captain this year and I think I’ve tried to be a leader on the field and in the locker room.”  College coaches want self-confident, respectful players that will represent their school in the right way. It’s okay to talk about your weaknesses, but don’t dwell on them.  No one is perfect and college coaches most likely will prefer an athlete that recognizes areas to improve

3. “What sets you apart from other recruits/players?”

The answer to this question is different for every athlete, but a strong answer can go a long way toward separating you from the competition.  Give this question some thought and consider qualities like academic achievement, work ethic and leadership.  Explain how you will contribute to their program both on and off the field.  Also, before you talk with a coach, know a little bit about their program.  If you do, it will show the coach that you have genuine interest in playing there

4. “What other colleges are recruiting you?”

You always want to make the coach you are talking with feel like they are your top choice, but if you are being recruited by other colleges, it’s ok to let them know.  If you aren’t currently being recruited, there are many ways to answer this question.  For example, you could say “I am just starting to communicate with some schools” or “I am waiting to hear back from several colleges.”  Everyone wants to date the popular girl/boy and every coach wants to sign the popular recruit.

5. “What type scholarship are you looking for?”

Be honest about your financial considerations, especially if that is a determining factor in your decision.  Learn the scholarship rules for your sport.  If partial scholarships are the norm, be open to other forms of financial aid. You should also know the “all-in” cost at any college you are talking with so you can compare “apples to apples”.  A 40% scholarship to a private school is not the same as a 40% scholarship to a state school.  Your out-of-pocket cost will be significantly different.

6. What is your relationship with your current coach?

Your relationship with your current coach can be an indication of whether or not you are a viable candidate for any college program.  In our interview last year with former University of Texas Coach Mack Brown, he told us “…if a high school coach had any hesitation about a player, we were out!”  That is a pretty telling comment.  A solid endorsement/recommendation from your current coach can go a long way toward landing a scholarship.  So, when you answer this question I hope you are comfortable offering to provide the contact information for your current coach. 

7. “What things are you looking for most in a college?”

There are many aspects of this question to consider.  They can range from your expectations regarding playing time, to whether or not the school offers the major you want to study.  Decide early what is important to you.  Is it the quality of the education? Location? Tradition?  Boy-girl ratio?  Once again, be honest with this answer.  This is no time to tell them what you think they want to hear.  This is not a 4 year decision; it’s a 40 year decision.

8. “Who is helping you with this decision?”

If a coach is really interested in you he or she will want to know who will be influential in your college decision and who to build a relationship with.  I believe a recruit should limit the number of people involved in the process.  Listen to your parents, your current coach and perhaps a trusted advisor. Don’t poll your teammates, ask your cousin Mel or talk about your college choices with the cashier at the gas station.  This is your decision with input from a trusted few.

9. What are your interests outside of sports?

Most college coaches want well-rounded student-athletes.  They understand that any potential college athlete has spent an inordinate amount of time working on their sport, but it shouldn’t be all-consuming.  Whether you play a musical instrument or enjoy fly fishing your outside interests allow a coach to get to know you on a personal level.

10. “Do you have any questions for me?”

Your college decision needs to be an informed decision.  To maximize your time with a college coach, write down a list of questions to ask early in the process.  Here are a few ideas

  • What information do you need from me?
  • How many players are you recruiting at my position?
  • What would I need to do to be evaluated by your staff?
  • How many roster spots are available my graduation year?When would be a good time to visit your campus?

Prioritize your top five to seven questions and ask as many as the conversation will allow.Any time you talk to a coach just be yourself, be relaxed, and be confident. Coaches want to get to know you and get a feel for your personality. Take advantage of every opportunity to start building a relationship, and find out if he or she is someone you want to play for.

If you search the internet for recruiting assistance, you will come to find almost as many recruiting services/websites as there are colleges offering scholarships.  Many promise they will help you find an athletic scholarship because they have access to people and information you don’t.  Others promise college scholarships based on relationships, online profiles and/or networks.  The question for student-athletes and their parents is “how do I know who to trust and how much do I need to spend?”

The fact is that any qualified athlete can find a spot on a college roster without the assistance of a professional recruiter, as long as they are willing to put in the effort.  That being said, most people don’t know how to approach college recruiting and they really want help.  Like any industry, there are good recruiting services and there are companies that are just trying to separate you from your money.

  1. How much does your service cost?  You need to understand the “all in” cost of their “premium” package.  If the recruiter isn’t willing to answer this question, or if they have to interview you before giving you a price range, run for the hills!
  2. What does their scope of service include? For instance, will they create an online profile for you or a highlight video and if so, does it come at an additional cost?
  3. How involved will I be in the process?  The more involved you are in the process, the better the result, but if you are going to do all the work then the service should be relatively inexpensive.
  4. Will you provide my personal information to other companies?  Unless you want to be inundated with emails, promotional giveaways and phone calls then you should ask this question.  Some services have relationships with other companies and your personal information will be passed along.
  5. How will you identify the colleges to contact?  This question is critical.  Make sure the answer makes sense.  Are they just going to send out emails to every program in the country? Do they just put you in a PDF that gets sent to coaches once a month?  Are they just sending emails to the colleges they have relationships with?  Exactly what criteria are being used to craft your future. 
  6. How many players have they successfully placed? What positions and colleges were they placed?
  7. Will you contact colleges on my behalf and if so, how many?  If you aren’t currently a four-star recruit, then to some extent the recruiting process is a numbers game.  If they are contacting schools on your behalf, make sure you know how many, which ones and what that contact consists of.  There is no reason to contact colleges in which you have no interest.  It’s also not helpful if you are one of 300 athletes’ information in a newsletter that they are sending to coaches.
  8. What criteria will you use to determine the colleges to pursue?  Make sure they will be considering the things that are important to you.  Remember, you have to live there for four years! 

At the risk of being redundant, this is your recruiting journey.  If you decide to use a service, do your homework, read the reviews, ask the right questions and understand exactly what you are paying for.  If you decide to do it yourself, educate yourself on the process and be persistent.

If you really want to play your sport in college, an organized, comprehensive college recruiting resume detailing your athletic and academic qualifications/accomplishments will put you a step ahead of the competition.  A well thought out resume makes it easy for a college coach to quickly decide whether he or she is interested in you as a potential recruit.  

What your resume should include

An effective recruiting resume includes the academic and athletic information a college coach needs to make an initial assessment of whether or not you might be a fit for his or her program. There are a few ways to organize your resume, but all college coaches would agree that at the very least it should include the following:

  • Your personal information,
  • Your academic accomplishments,
  • Your athletic statistics and honors, and
  • An easy way for a coach to verify your stats and evaluate your abilities.

Like a professional resume, you should consider dividing your recruiting resume into separate sections, so the information is organized.  In my opinion, the above four categories could be your four sections. 

The logical choice for the first section is your personal information.  That should include your name, hometown, sport, primary position, email address, telephone number and club/select team name.  Also, a simple profile picture can’t hurt.

Your academic information might come next and should include high school name, graduation date, cumulative GPA, NCAA core course GPA, desired major (if you have one) and your SAT and/or ACT score. Concisely summarizing your academic information allows coaches to quickly determine if you’re a good fit academically for their university. No matter how good an athlete you are, you have to get by the academic admissions office if you want to play at any school.

The third section should be your athletic information and that might take a little thought.  Every college coach evaluates potential recruits a little differently and the important metrics and statistics are different for every position in every sport. For example, a corner infielder is evaluated completely differently than an outfielder and a point guard is graded differently than a post.

You need to include the statistics that are relevant to your sport and position.  If you aren’t sure which statistics and metrics are critical for you, do some homework.  Ask your current coach for help and take a look at the recruiting questionnaires for your sport on the college websites in which you have an interest. A careful review of the recruiting questionnaires will tell you the information college coaches are most interested in.  Providing this information in your resume allows a college coach to make an initial assessment almost immediately.

In addition to your statistics, the athletic section of your resume should include a link to your highlight video and your upcoming game schedule.  For a coach to make a realistic initial evaluation, he or she will have to see video.  In fact, video is so critical that you might want to include the link at the top of your resume.  After they review your video, if they are interested your game schedule becomes important.

Finally, in your resume you need to include a way for college coaches to easily verify your stats.  In this section, include your current coach’s contact information. This is important, because your current coach’s opinion about you can be a difference-maker in your scholarship search.

You need make it easy for coaches to make a quick decision or your resume won’t even be considered. There’s a fine line between too much information and not enough. A one-page resume would be preferable if that leaves you enough room to include all your important information.

Online or On Paper?

While an online resume can be helpful, don’t get caught up in all the hype about college coaches filling their rosters by “shopping” for players online.  The most effective way to use an online resume is for you (the recruit) to share a link to your resume with the coaches you have identified as realistic possibilities. Don’t hope that the exact right coach will accidentally stumble upon your online resume. It’s probably not going to happen.

If you prefer not to use an online resume, then don’t.  You can create your own recruiting resume using the above recipe.  A well-organized “recruiting resume” that includes all the pertinent information, coupled with an endorsement from your current coach can be just as effective as any online option.

How to deliver your resume to the right college coaches

The best way to deliver your resume to college coaches is simple. Send an email! If you’ve created your own resume, attach it to the email. If you have an online resume (for example, a Playced Player Resume), include the link. Just remember that your email needs to express specific interest in that coach’s program if you want them to pay attention to it. Taking the extra time to personalize your emails can be the difference between a coach hitting “delete” or “reply”. 

Show the coach you really want to play for them and that you actually know something about their program. Mention something about their team, a recent accomplishment, or even that your Uncle Mel went to college there.  Anyone can send an email to a college coach, but the key is to get a response.

Finally, I believe you should copy every coach on staff that might have a say in recruiting you. For example, if you’re a quarterback, send the email to the recruiting coordinator and “cc” the offensive coordinator and the quarterback coach (if they have one).  You never know which coach might like what they see!