The Hard Work of Being a Top Division I Athlete

Recruiting 101Correspondent INovember 22, 2008

I have talked about it before but to get to the Division I level in any sport, you must show a great deal of ability and skills that impress college coaches.

You may have worked an amazing amount of time to make yourself into this Division I athlete, been blessed with some great athleticism, or a combination of the two. 

Once you get to college, it is a whole other ball game and the time and effort you put into sports is going to be more than you ever imagined.

But how much time and effort does it take to be the best of the best at the Division I level?  The New York Times recently had an excellent piece at the end of last month where they discussed what it took a Heisman-winning player like Tim Tebow to become the player he is on the field.  What is amazing about his story is that it is much more mental than you would imagine.

Click here for the article but this really should serve as motivation about the time and effort it takes to be among the best at the college level.  It doesn’t matter if it is Division I or III, you are going to have to put in a lot more time in college to become an elite player in your conference than in high school. 

That is just the way it works, no matter what school you go to (unless you are a Division I athlete who attends a Division III school and can average 20 points per game with your eyes closed).

Here are some of the bits and pieces of the article that really stood out to me:

“He’s as hard of a worker as I’ve ever had,” said Coach Urban Meyer, whose No. 5 Gators (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) face No. 8 Georgia on Saturday in a game that will essentially eliminate the loser from the SEC and national title races.

“From the weight room to film prep to practice, when he’s your leader and quarterback and he works as hard as he does, it has a positive effect on the team.”

Tebow said he voluntarily spends 20 hours a week digesting film of opponents, far more time than he devotes to studying for school. (He has a 3.81 grade point average.) And he said he spends about twice as much time with Mullen than he does with anyone else. Mullen said he shares more time with Tebow during the season than he does with his wife, Megan.

A recent afternoon spent watching film with them made it apparent that the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Tebow derives as much joy from poring over the nuances of the game as he does from lowering his shoulder into an oncoming safety.

“I love it,” Tebow said as he flipped through film of Georgia’s defense on Sunday. “I love just studying teams. I just love football and everything about it in general. You just have to have a passion for it.”

With practice over and dusk long settled into a cool night, the only thing Tebow wanted to look at was more film. After a postpractice ice bath and with his spiky hair still wet, he searched for an open door to the coaches’ offices at 10 p.m. Why go home?

“I’m so excited about this game,” he said. “I won’t be able to sleep.”

Yes, Tebow seems like a true jock at heart but there is no doubt that a lot of his success on the football field has come from the hard work and preparation that he has put in behind the scenes.  I am willing to guess that there is a lot more that he does behind the scenes that is not even mentioned in this article.

So for those recruits out there, this is an athlete who spends 20 hours a week watching film.  That is not including class, practice, working out in the weight room, and so many other different aspects of being a college student. 

So if you think you can slack off as a college athlete and party all the time, in order to be successful, you will have to put in a lot more time to be among the best in your conference or even in the country like Tebow.

For position by position help throughout the football recruiting process, Recruiting-101 has put together a 28-page guide to help athletes get a better feel for what college coaches are looking for at each spot.  Click here to learn more about the e-book now, which is currently on sale for only $5!