A new year is upon us, and opportunity lurks. That being said, those who organize best, execute well, develop plans and do not beat around the bush will maximize their success in college recruiting. You have the chance to create change, new commitments, a clean slate and fresh opportunities to approach the recruiting process with renewed passion.
This article attempts to outline general “class tips” that prospective student-athletes can use in maximizing the college search in 2012.
The early decision and signing periods are behind you, and if you were not picked up in admissions or offered an athletic scholarship you now have new life in the regular decision and regular signing periods.
Will the regular recruiting period be competitive? Yes.
Will there be plentiful opportunities? No.
Try not to focus on that which was not accomplished during the early recruiting process, but re-group and control your playing field in the regular period. Cast a narrow net in selecting the colleges you will pursue and focus on the following:
- Meet all admissions application deadlines.
- Update your personal profile with any pertinent academic and athletic information.
- Edit your recruiting highlight video with current footage.
- Connect regularly with the coaches and avoid being incommunicado.
- Ask your club or high school coach to reach out on your behalf to speak directly with the college coaches.
- Take another road trip to your top schools and set up a meeting with the coaches.
Your strategy and operative should be vigorous. Provide the coaches with the unique resources to help them see you in a new and unique light that will convince them to recruit you more earnestly.
An operative that juniors should reference regularly as you build the recruiting effort is momentum. As a junior prospect, you want to remain highly visible on college coaches' radars and provide them with regular updates of your academic and athletic progress.
If you are that blue-chip kid that many of the college coaches are pursuing, you are not going to run into too many hurdles and there is a good chance a large percentage of these boys and girls have received verbal commitments. If, on the other hand you are the kid in the “B” file of prospects, you will need to go above and beyond to remain competitive with the other prospects in the file. I suggest you focus on the following:
- Update your YouTube video with new highlights that will get the attention of the coaches.
- Be sure you are on target academically and registered for and preparing for standardized testing.
- Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
- Line up campus visits and work with the college coaches to include a possible overnight stay as part of the trip.
- Cultivate relationships with each of the coaches you have connected with. The “grey area” character component can evolve here and help separate you from the rest of the pack.
Re-assess your recruiting strategy and look at the “end game.” Identify your ultimate goal in the recruiting process and use it as your catalyst. From here, work backward and identify working targets, each building from the first until you reach your present point of reference. Now start from your new “launch point” and surge forward and work the plan, one brick at a time.
Information gathering and learning the new language of college recruiting should be the mantra for the sophomore prospect. As I mentioned early in this article, the college search for athletes has accelerated to a mind-boggling rate, and one way to keep pace is to embrace and understand it.
That aside, the education of the prospect and family can be complemented by taking a few simple but time-consuming steps. Remember: Lift-off is the most demanding part of any worthy project, where time and energy are used at a premium. I suggest focusing on the following:
- Develop a CliffsNotes version of NCAA rules and procedures. Go to the NCAA website (www.ncaa.org) and download the recruiting manuals and pay close attention to the chapters on recruiting, financial aid and eligibility.
- Put yourself down on paper by creating a one-page personal profile and developing a four- to five-minute highlight video.
- Do a self-evaluation (I have a great, 10-question assessment I ask all my students to answer before we launch) and get a grip on what you are potentially looking for in the college experience.
- Develop a group of 20-25 colleges, diverse in community, academic offerings and athletic strength (D-1, 2, 3). Locate the home and athletic websites and poke around to get a feel for the different environments.
- Take three to five campus road trips during the year. Don’t just show up. Be sure you have introduced yourself to the coaches through regular mans of communication and line up face-to-face meetings.
The start of 2012 presents new opportunities. Developing a positive mental approach, similar to gearing up for a new season, is a proactive step in the right direction in the college search. In the final analysis, you want to create a clean slate and with that, every opportunity to push yourself to achieve great things.
Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises prospects and families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence: An educational guide for college athletics recruiting.” For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.
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