For a second year, I had the opportunity to go to the AFCA’s annual convention – a gathering of some of the top high school, college and professional football minds – to expand my knowledge, network and reflect on my passion for the game.
Between my conversations with coaches in San Antonio and my experience with athletes who’ve been part of the process and moved on to huge college / pro careers, I put together a few good recruiting tips that build on – surprise – things football teaches:
Always present yourself to the best of your ability and follow up with polite persistence and gratitude. Do the little things better than anyone.
One of those is to use social media for recruiting. Most players know they should have an account with their actual name, which can help coaches find out more about them. Most programs and coaches now have social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Follow ones of interest as a first step.
One coach told me using direct messages can be effective in recruiting. While sliding into DM’s on social media have proven risky for some, NCAA D1 and D2 coaches can direct message recruits during a prospect’s junior year. This may also give you another opportunity to contact a coach or program and for them to see your pitch.
As with texting, if you send a few messages and you don’t hear anything … re-evaluate your strategy. Send an email, call the recruiting office, text, mail a letter, google and find someone you know who knows someone on the coaching staff, go on an unofficial visit.
Assuming you are a good fit (or could be) for that program and school, your PERSISTENCE might pay off. I got my first coaching job simply by making the effort to follow up with a guy who told me to call him. Who knows how this will pay off for you.
Directly from FBS coaches at AFCA … here are three other gems:
- Pin your best one play from a varsity game, not your full hudl recruiting link, to your twitter account and send coaches a link to this one play. Demand their attention. Keep it short. Make those seconds count.Use this link in emails, texts, DM’s, Instagram stories, Facebook, Twitter … present your case fast.
- Use photos and quick quality videos to capture measurables.We are a “see to believe” society and in recruiting that’s because anyone can and does try to get an advantage … and coaches have been burned.
Examples could be: height, weight, weightroom big lifts or achivements, transcript, test scores, 40 time. You don’t have to post everything publicly, but think about using these assets to pitch yourself in a DM or put them together in a short YouTube link in your profile.
Showcase on your social account or find ways to pitch to coaches what otherwise makes you unique – volunteer work, leadership, hobbies, personal stories, references who might vouch for you and know them well, etc. Keep it short, but often, you can catch a break by going the extra mile. Sound familiar?
Even if you’re the prototypical recruit on the field, remember academics MUST stay a priority. Often, just a few points difference in your GPA is thousands of dollars in scholarships … or the difference between you and someone else with better grades even being evaluated.
- Be careful with social media. We all know the horror stories, but there are subtle things to keep in mind to make social work for you.As you post as a prospective college football player, think about these questions:
What is your personal brand as a recruit? How does your social media reflect it?
How can you be authentic, but positive, with what you post, like and share?
What would help coaches / future teammates determine if you were a good fit?
How does your account make you a better teammate / leader to your current team?
How does what you post add value to the world and tell your story?
In this vein, the smartest observation from a college football coach I heard was about time of day for recruits to post. If you are up on Twitter or Instagram in the wee hours of the morning or during school … what does that say about your commitment to rest / recover? What does that say about your commitment to your grades and ability to focus?
As Coach Derek Jones so aptly points out: “Everything you do in life is an interview … you never know who is watching or what they are looking for.”
Share your recruiting tips … everyone wins when dreams come true in the form of college scholarships, playing opportunities, expanded worldviews, and the love of the game. Best of luck to all!