As we enter into the heart of recruiting season, there’s something that’s been on my mind. This article isn’t just for NAIA, but for NCAA Division II & III as well. Heck, most of these points are valid for Division I. I’m tired of seeing hard-working families getting ripped off from recruiting services and paying $100 for a chance at the next level. I’m tired of hearing kids complain that their high school coach didn’t do enough for them. NEWS FLASH – you don’t need a recruiting service and your coach can’t do everything for you!
While you can only control what you can control, there’s a lot you can do to promote yourself. I am a product of the NAIA myself (Faulkner ’10-’13), and I’ve been a high school football coach ever since. This process isn’t difficult to do, but it does require a bit of work. The steps below should help you get to where you want to go. Best part about it? It is, for the most part, free.
#1. Do your Part (GPA and ACT/SAT)
In small college football, admission counselors are attracted by quality grades. Most small colleges have a small enrollment number – it’s the Admissions Department’s job to increase that enrollment. If your grades and test scores are good, you have over half the battle won. Don’t tell me it’s too late, that your GPA isn’t what it should be. The best time to start trying was at the beginning. The second-best time to start trying is now. Always have transcripts and test score results ready to hand or send out.
As we all know, smaller programs give partial scholarships. The higher your GPA and test scores are, the MORE money they can give you. Without acceptable test scores and a solid GPA, you have NOTHING. Additionally, no score is definitely worse than a low score. Be sure to work closely with your guidance counselors at your high school for more help with signing up and test strategies.
#2. HUDL Highlights
Your football skill is just as important to show a college coach as your grades/test scores. Don’t wait for your high school coach to make your highlight reel. Once you’ve graduated from college, people will not be nearly as willing to do things for you. Get a head start (coaches like players who show initiative) – make your own highlight reel. It doesn’t take long to piece together your highlights. If you want a good guide on doing this, click here.
Have no more than 2-4 minutes of highlights, with your best plays first. College coaches are busy, and your first impression maybe your only shot. Never put a mediocre play on a highlight reel.
#3. Social Media Presence
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. Bud Elliott, the National Recruiting Director for SBNation, has done an excellent job of explaining this point for me, even giving an example of what your Twitter Profile should look like. But, to recap:
- Be open & honest
- Don’t do stupid stuff
In this day and age, if you hit it big, folks will go looking for dirt to dig up on you. Example #1, Kyler Murray. So do yourself a favor. Go back through your tweets – from the beginning – and delete anything that could be offensive or could be used to question you – even if it’s from when you were 12 years old. If it’s there, it will be found.
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Visit every college’s athletic website. When you do so, look for two magic words. If you see “Questionnaire” or “Recruiting”, you need to click it, and fill out any information they require. Believe me, someone at the college will read it, and if the information is applicable, they will contact you. It takes no skill to fill out these questionnaires, just time and effort. Will it be slightly boring? Yes. Will it be more boring than sitting at home on Saturdays, not playing football? Not hardly. This is what the recruiting services do – they contact the schools on your behalf. Put in the work yourself and save your money.
I tell the kids that play under me to do at least 2-3 a day, and see what happens. It’s like fishing – eventually one will bite.
List of Schools
#5. E-mail the Coaching Staff
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Here’s the secret sauce – the part that makes you different. Don’t rely on just feeling out questionnaires – find a coach’s email. The coach you want to email is the Recruiting Coordinator but do not be timid to CC: any other coaches you want. These coaches check their email multiple times daily, and have it synced to their phones. Write a broad draft of your e-mail, then take it to your English teacher and ask him/her very nicely to proofread it for you. You want to sound professional. Include these things in your e-mail:
- A short, professional introduction of who you are, your high school, grade, position you play, statistics, awards, weight room numbers, and media clippings that have you in it.
- Do a little research on the school – tell the coach what attracts you to their school and why you’d like to play there. (This will be different for each school you e-mail.)
- HUDL Highlight
- Say “Thank You” so they know you appreciate their time.
Most of these coaches want to do their job well, and will leave no stone unturned. Just like step four, you need to plan to do 2-3 of these a day, but once you’ve got a “form e-mail” done, it should be mostly copy/paste.
Always consult with your high school coach, high school guidance counselor, and other mentors. Listen to them and think about their advice. The more people you have around you that want you to succeed, the better. Use any free resource you can. Most recruiting services do a good job, but there is no reason for them if you have the film and the grades. Good luck and please communicate to our twitter account @naiafball for continuing coverage and advice.