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How Athletes Are Discovered

A collegiate sports team’s roster is usually made up of players from all parts of the country.  Even though most teams take on a local flavor, teams are usually complex in Bill Conleyterms of the make-up of the squad.  The average fan often wonders how a particular player may have ended up at a particular school.  Listed below are the various ways college coaches find out about athletes.

Geographical Area Recruiting

Because most college coaches are assigned to specific geographical areas in terms of recruiting, they go back to the same schools year after year. While they are evaluating upper classmen, they become aware of young players coming up in the program. That’s why college staffs that have been together for a while and have had little turnover, are a step ahead in recruiting. They not only are familiar with the athletes in the area but also have established relationships with the high school coaches.

Tapes and DVD’s Sent by High School Coaches

The high school coach is a crucial ally in the recruiting process and it’s imperative for college staffs to evaluate his or her players if so requested. The films requested by the college and those sent by the high school coach are usually the ones first analyzed.

Recruiting Services

Major college programs spend thousands of dollars purchasing lists of players, combine results, and highlight tapes/DVDs from various recruiting services and their web sites. The coaching staffs cross reference the lists, check out the combine numbers (speed, size, etc.) and evaluate the athletic skills from the tapes/DVDs in order to come up with prospects that meet their needs. The role of recruiting services is increasingly important to the world of college recruiting.

High School Coaching Contacts

One of the ways I always researched the top recruits in a specific area was to contact credible high school coaches in the region.  This saved me a lot of time especially in areas I was initially unfamiliar. The coaches were more than willing to share the information and sure enough, the same names kept coming up.  Those were the players I would first check out.

College Coaching Contacts

One of the great things about college coaching is the comradery among the various staffs.  Most coaching colleagues tend to share information despite the competitive nature of the business. Many times coaches run across each other on the recruiting trail and share information on prospects.  They are especially helpful if they are not recruiting the same athlete.  Their institution might have different academic standards; different position needs, or play at a different level of competition.  As a coach, the more extensive your recruiting network, the better.

College Camps and Combines

Each year thousands of athletes attend camps and combines all around the country. These camps are a huge recruiting tool for the institution. The athlete can be put through skills specific to their sport and position. College staffs can judge the size, speed, agility, and strength of the athlete. College coaches can also evaluate many intangibles such as character, work ethic, personality, leadership skills, etc. of the athlete.

Unsolicited Resources

To be perfectly honest, this is the one least utilized by major colleges.  They simply do not have the time to check out every lead or evaluate every tape and DVD that is sent to the institution. On the other hand, small schools that do not have large recruiting budgets or do not offer full grants-in-aid are more likely to look at unsolicited materials.  The better the quality of the tape/DVD and the more accurate the information, the better chance the athlete has to be evaluated by the institution. This is another area where recruiting services can be vital to the athlete.

Bill Conley worked at Ohio State for 17 years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.