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Why Academics Matter So Much in the Recruiting Process

When NCSA Educational Speakers deliver their message on the recruiting process, the importance of Character and Academics is a driving force. Earlier this week I emphasized those points at LaPorte High School.

Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a powerful article on the eve of the 2011 NFL Draft about Robert Hughes and his dream of playing at the pro level. The Notre Dame senior running back has the physical tools and the drive. A great motivation is the memory of his late brother Tony, who was shot and killed 3 1/2 years ago near his Chicago home.

Tony was an outstanding athlete who had football scholarship offers from Big 10 Universities, but he didn’t hit the books and could not meet academic requirements. His football career came up short of where it could have gone.

In the article, Jensen describes how Tony shifted his focus on making sure Robert did not make the same mistakes. Here is part of the article:

“Tony sometimes picked Robert up from Hubbard High School after work and always checked his report card.

‘‘We can’t let him do what I did and mess up his grades,’’ Tony would tell his mother.

‘‘It was something that I was hearing left and right from my mom and brother,’’ Robert said. ‘‘You had to learn from it, or things weren’t going to be good.’’

Once, to bolster his point, Tony posted his full week’s paycheck from Starbucks on Robert’s bedroom door with a note.

‘‘This is what I make right now, for my mistake,’’ Tony wrote.

Right below that, he posted the minimum salary for an NFL player, which was $230,000 at the time.

‘‘This is what you can make if you bust your tail and don’t make the mistakes I made,’’ wrote Tony.”

Robert listened. Recruited by many schools, he signed with Notre Dame because of academics and has earned his Sociology degree. Though not expected to be a high Draft pick, he will most likely play in the NFL. Running backs last about 8 years if they are lucky (most just a few years), so he knows his degree will make sure the 40 to 50 years after his pro career reach their potential.

While Robert listened, so many athletes – especially football and basketball players – don’t and end up failing to reach their potential as a College student-athlete. Athletes most often respond to that credible third party that delivers a message of the importance of character and taking care of academics. I can’t tell you how many Schools and Clubs I have delivered Talks at where the leader says, “We tell the kids over and over but it’s us telling them…they really respond when that outside source tells them.”

In the article, their mother Blanchie says, “Had I had the information that I had for Robert, then Tony could have been in the same spot (an athletic scholarship), but you learn through trial and error.”

Their family did not have recruiting education when Tony came through the process. After Tony came up short, he made sure to get educated. There continues to be a huge lack of education about the recruiting process, calling many athletes to fall through the cracks or underachieve their scholarship potential. When I spoke at LaPorte High, their outstanding Athletic Director Ed Gilliland told me of a survey he did with a group of community advisors he meets with on a regular basis to go over things. Tops on their list was the need for the community to get educated about the College Athletics recruiting process. He brought in NCSA and South Bend Athletics Director Kirby Whitacre (who has a lot of experience in helping families understand recruiting) to speak in their Auditorium. Athletes in hockey, football, basketball, golf, track and XC, softball, volleyball and baseball, as well as their families, attended.

NCSA has a stable of speakers who excelled academically in College and in their sport and many that played at the professional level. They are ready to speak to your young people, athletes and coaches about the recruiting process. NCSA speakers are requested at more than 1500 high schools and events each year to help athletes in all sports understand the process. Thanks to a partnership with the NFL Players Association, we do these events for free!

To learn more either send an email to or fill out the short form at this link

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Charlie Adams

NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network Senior Speaker

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Charlie Adams