Recruiting 101: STL Post-Dispatch Looks At The Realities

In an article that focused on football – Athletes seek help finding colleges – the writer apparently spent some time talking to players and looking at the question of whether a service is valuable.

Enter college recruiting services, a growing industry where high school athletes and parents can turn for help in gaining exposure and making contact with colleges. The Internet has made such services abundant. Most will set up a profile and offer tips and links to the NCAA information for free, but they also offer packages of paid services — at costs of $750 and up — that can include talent evaluation, video preparation and sending an athlete’s information to coaches around the country.

And that’s the million dollar question: Is it worth it?

Although many college coaches say they don’t look at e-mails from the recruiting services, for families that have already spent money for years for summer leagues, camps and the like, it’s just another investment in pursuing a college scholarship.

The article looks at one young man, a quarterback, who has seen the interest in his skills go up but it was as a result of attending a camp where he was seen by coaches. The article goes on with some money quotes:

Washington University men’s basketball coach Mark Edwards called the unsolicited e-mails he gets from recruiting services “the equivalent of spam. It’s pretty easy to figure out our academic requirements. They’re listed in all the books. What a recruiting service can’t figure out is the type of player we look for.” He estimated that he receives five or six e-mails a day from recruiting services touting a student who isn’t a fit, either athletically or academically.

Lindenwood men’s basketball coach Brad Soderberg agreed that the services can’t pinpoint the right fit the way his own staff can.

The key point? Coaches are looking for a player that fits their needs. In some cases, it could be a player capable of playing a position that needs to be filled. I remember Rolla graduate Sophie Cox describing how TN-Martin saw her play in State Cup following her senior year and signed her because he needed an outside back. She went on to become Captain and help lead the team to their first ever Conference crown. She’s been unique from the beginning however and ranks 3rd on all-time female players coming out of this region (after Anne Felts and Ann Cook).

More frequently it is a combination of skills – academic, athletic, soccer, cultural. Recruiting is as hard for coaches as it is players and losing players to academics or any other factor is a significant cost. They are looking for someone they can establish a relationship with and get to know. After the checklist is done one comment stands out more than any other I’ve heard from a coach in the past six years. Potential.

The number of players that complete their four years of eligibility is much smaller than the number that start in a program. The players who have done well have continued to grow in the game as well as an adult. You may get some good playing time as a freshman if you’re skilled but I’ve seen just as many players who then sat after that because they did not keep pace with the incoming classes. Ask Danny Collins, Adam Peterson and Alex Palmer what the competition is like. Every year at Drury it’s gotten tougher but these three worked as hard, if not harder, then their teammates and were rewarded with playing time, the satisfaction of team success and in the end, the lifelong friends they made playing the game.


So get to work now learning about colleges. Determine what appeals to you (big? small? close? far?). Find someone from this area who’s gone there and can tell you about the realities. Visit.

The Post-Dispatch summarized what they learned here – Some sage recruiting advice — for free I’d like to think their advice is very similar to my recommendations.

They also point to a webinar on the Illinois Coaches Association on recruiting. It’s not a soccer specific site and I haven’t had a chance to watch it myself but the title – NCAA/NAIA/JUCO Eligibility and Recruiting – looks like a useful tool.

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