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corresponding article courtesy of www.espnrise.com
Gregg Easterbrook 09/15/10
Five things every high school athlete should know about college recruiting
A few years ago, my son Grant was a high school senior. He was doing well at sports, especially football, and the phone began to ring. “Another coach,” his younger sister would announce with disdain. We’d sent around some video of him, and now colleges were calling. Campus visits lay ahead, as did the arrival of scouts at his high school. He had no idea what to expect or how recruiting worked. We were clueless.
Luckily for us, I knew Tom Luginbill, ESPN’s Scouts Inc. national recruiting director. I called Tom several times, and on each occasion he patiently walked me through what might happen. Grant ended up at a great college, but there was a lot of nervousness and guesswork involved, and he wishes he’d known at the beginning of the process what he knew by the end. I asked Tom, “What central source can a person go to in order to understand recruiting?” He answered that there was no central source—parents and athletes were on their own.
Not anymore. ESPNRISE.com is now a source for understanding every stage of college athletic recruiting for boys and girls. We’ll help you prepare for and navigate the recruiting process. Knowledge is power — understanding how college recruiting works will improve the odds that you will end up in the best possible situation for you.
Since this is an introduction, let me introduce right away several crucial points that, I have found over the years, every high school boy or girl hoping to be recruited must know:
1. Grades are far more important than you think
More recruiting offers are withdrawn because of low grades than for any other reason.
“How are his/her grades?” is the first question every recruiter asks. Some athletes have had their grades or SAT scores altered to qualify them for college, but the reason grade-changing scandals make the news is because they are so unusual. The idea that someone at a college will be willing to change your grades for you is an urban legend. Don’t let a lie ruin your chance of being recruited.
Even if you have incredible athletic talent, grades may be the only thing that prevents you from getting a college scholarship. If your grades are below the NCAA eligibility standard of a “C” average in core courses, colleges will drop you cold. You’re not stupid, so don’t act stupid about grades. Don’t say you’re not capable of improving at school. “I can’t do it” is accepting defeat. Athletes never accept defeat. You may have problems, you may face obstacles, but don’t you dare accept defeat.
2. Getting phone calls or being invited on a visit does not mean you have been offered a scholarship at that college
It’s great if a coach calls you, and it’s great if you receive letters from colleges. But colleges contact far more high school prospects than they eventually make real offers to. Verbal commitments don’t bind you and they absolutely do not bind the school. Only a signed-and-countersigned agreement on college letterhead means that you are guaranteed a scholarship. Nothing is certain until you sign formal paperwork.
3. Being recruited is about opening the door to college
In modern America, college is what makes possible a future with a good job and solid income. Sports recruiting can get you into a great college, where you can have a wonderful four or five years as you receive an education and graduate with a degree that will help you succeed in life. Think of your college years as your reward for doing well in athletics.
the pros? Most sports don’t even have professional leagues! And those that do, such as football and basketball, are so competitive that even most stars at ranked universities will never spend a single day in the pros. Of the roughly 50,000 men and women who leave college each academic year after playing an NCAA sport, perhaps all of 50 go on to a career (with at least several years of high pay) in professional sports. More spend a few years struggling to eke out a living in minor and development leagues before giving up. So the odds of a college athlete making it in professional sports are about 1 in 1,000.
But everybody who gets recruited to play college athletics can receive an education, as well as have a great time and make valuable lifelong friendships at an important institution of higher learning. Be smart. Use sports to open your door to a great college. It will reward you in countless ways.
4. There is only one thing you can control – yourself
You can’t control whether your high school team performs well or gets media attention. You can’t control whether luck is with you or against you. You can’t control the people around you. But you do control how hard you work and the choices that you make. Don’t make dumb mistakes with alcohol and drugs. Don’t hang around with “friends” who break the law or urge you to break team rules. Real friends help you stay on the path to college. Work hard in practice, on the field and in the classroom. Good things are sure to come from it.
5. There are no shortcuts
Hard work, self-control and responsible behavior lead to success in life. Nobody’s ever going to give you anything. Study hard, condition hard, be a good teammate, leave everything you have on the field. And good luck with recruiting. The secrets to success are inside this guide.