There is no question that recruiting is the foundation of success in college football. Take a look at the teams that have had success and have tradition, and those are the teams that recruit just as well.
As a collegiate athlete myself, I have been through the recruiting process. Although obviously not at the Division I level, I understand what recruits want to see, and what I saw, from coaches and schools throughout the process of deciding the fate of your future.
There are many factors involved in the recruiting process that stand out first and foremost. A program’s success will obviously determine whether or not top athletes are interested in them. Hence, not many five-star prospects are checking out schools like North Texas, Memphis, or UNLV, with all due respect to those programs.
They are looking at the Alabamas and Ohio States of the country. Also, a coach’s success is pivotal for a prospect because they want to play for a man who is a winner, and location can be vital for prospects who may want to stay close to home and play in front of friends and family.
All of those factors play a huge role in recruiting, but if coaches really want to be one of the best recruiters around and gain an edge with many prospects, it is all about doing the little things.
Players want nothing more than a coach to be honest with them. Whether that includes talking about their potential playing time and the depth chart, or simply about their coaching styles in general, honesty is always the best policy. Earlier this summer honesty came into play when FanSided150 No. 1 overall player Da’Shawn Hand was promised by a coach, who was unnamed, that he could meet Michael Jackson.
Well, I ain’t gonna say any names, but one coach told me that since I’m the No. 1 player, I’m gonna get to meet Michael Jackson. I said, “Isn’t he already dead?” The coach goes, “Well, all right, you can meet Tito.” I was like, all right. OK, I’m done.
We will probably never know who the coach was and what school he coached at, but it goes to show you that there is no need to promise things that cannot be done. Be straight up and honest with recruits.
Be able to relate
The prospects that are being recruited by college coaches are often times 15, 20, or 30 or more years younger than them, so it is imperative to be able to connect with the kids of younger generations. Every recruit wants a coach who demands respect and holds a presence in a room, but at the same time players want a “player’s coach.” A coach must be able to connect with recruits and their families and be a “down to earth” type of guy.
A player-coach relationship goes beyond the football field, and a coach must be able to have a close-knit relationship as a friend with a recruit. For example, Alabama 2013 running back signee Alvin Kamara had a great bond with Kirby Smart, which helped the Tide land him. See anything funny about that? Smart is the Tide’s defensive coordinator, and he will never coach Kamara specifically in practice, but because he built a great relationship with Kamara it allowed him to help be a factor in luring him to Tuscaloosa.
Avoid negative recruiting
This is a hot button subject in collegiate recruiting. I, for one, have never been a fan of coaches talking bad about other teams and never wanted to hear it when I was being recruited. Why not just focus on the positives of your program? Ever heard the term “if you have nothing good to say, do not say anything at all?”
These are 18 and 19-year-old kids, and they are easily persuaded especially when they are being tugged at by schools to go one way or another. Negative recruiting is sweeping the college football landscape more and more, and it sometimes can backfire. Davin Bellamy, a 2013 Georgia Bulldogs signee, experienced the negative recruiting phenomena during his process.
One of my last in-home (visits), a school spent an hour and half telling me why I shouldn’t go to Georgia.
The fact of the matter is that certain coaches are going to do whatever it takes to get a prospect to come to their school. If that means bashing another program then that is what they will do. I personally feel that if you want to be honest, be able to relate to players, then negative recruiting should not be a part of your arsenal.
Factors that influence a player’s decision to attend a school are far and wide, but being able to relate, being honest, and only promoting your program are all positive influences that a majority of players will respect in college coaches who yearn for their services.
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