The recruiting process has changed significantly over the years. Over a decade ago, I was recruited to play football at college football. My recruiting journey was different than most because I only played one year of high school football. Recruiters didn’t know anything about me, but my goal was to put myself on the map through my play. I was blessed to play for a top school in the state of Illinois so recruiters we always there looking for players. As I continued to perform on Friday nights, recruiters began to call. I remember Toledo, Northern Illinois, Oregon, Northwestern and Central Michigan were one’s to express early interest. I was really excited to receive interest from great schools, but I received great advice to choose a school that has my best interest at heart. I took official visits to every school and ended up choosing Northwestern because it fit the criteria I was looking for in school. The recruiting process is journey and in this section I will give the Top 3 things that I considered when I was being recruited and that I believe athletes should consider when choosing to sign with a school.
During recruiting, coaches will call often, host you on several visits and tell you all the good things that you want to hear as a recruit. As a student athlete, it is your job to ask coaches the tough questions such as: How will you help improve my game? How do you see me contributing next season? What is your offensive and defensive philosophy? How is the team culture? Answers to these questions when choosing the right school will point you in the right direction.
Opportunity to contribute early
You have to decide on a school that gives you best opportunity to get on the court or the field. Many athletes go to schools and get in situations where there is a “log-jam” at their position. Being a 4 or 5 star recruit doesn’t guarantee you success or a position in the starting lineup. Those ratings look good on paper, but athletes must understand that after all the recruiting praise, you have to perform and show the coaches what you can do. From experience, I know several guys that were highly recruited and didn’t transition well to college because they were in the wrong system and got buried on the depth chart. This situation sends athletes straight to the transfer portal and they end up at a school that they should have chosen in the first place. Some of the best advice I received during recruiting was, it’s not about what did in the past, it’s what you do when get to school that makes the difference. No matter your recruiting status, you have to put in the work when you get to campus so when your opportunity presents itself you are ready to perform.
Yes, academics are very important in the recruiting process. Only 1.2% of college athletes go to the NBA from college. Every player’s dream is to go to the pros, but it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan. Going to a school with a great pedigree in the major you want to pursue and great academic support is essential. In my experience at Northwestern, our academic support had a plan for us to graduate by having an outline of what classes we needed to take and telling us what professors were better than others. This gave me a blueprint to reach my goal to graduate and gave me a plan to pursue opportunities professionally when I finished playing in the pro’s. No matter how long you play in the pro’s, life awaits you afterwards and you want to be prepared to make strides in other professions.
As athletes begin to decide where they want to go, consider these factors and be confident in your decision to be an asset to the school of your choice, and always put your best foot forward towards your goals.