Charlie Adams

How you can be inspired by professional stars who were overlooked in recruiting

Evan Longoria is one of the stars of Major League Baseball, yet he wasn’t recruited that hard in high school. What can you learn from his story to help you through recruiting challenges.

A three-time All-Star, Longoria has a contract with Tampa that is worth $144.6 million over 11 years. Yet, as a High School baseball player growing up in southern California, he struggled in recruiting. I read a revealing article by Marc Tompkins of the St. Petersburg Times. Here is part of it:

“Longoria wasn’t very big and wasn’t very good coming out of St. John Bosco High (California), ignored by the pro scouts and – to the not-always-concealed dismay of his parents – barely noticed by major college coaches.

“Nobody wanted him,” Mike, his father, said.

The Longorias couldn’t compensate by making him what former Long Beach State coach Mike Weathers calls “a show pony,” the kid whose parents trot him out to every showcase event and travel league to get him noticed and hire private coaches by the hour.

Longoria had some other junior colleges interested but took the promise of playing time at Rio Hondo Junior College and made the most of it, getting bigger and stronger and better.”

A Division One program, Long Beach State, heard about his swing, and signed him as a transfer. More physically mature, he just kept getting better and better as a player and became the 3rd pick in the Major League Draft in 2008.

Junior College can often be an option for players who need to physically mature or perhaps shore themselves up academically. Marilyn Coddens, who coached future Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins at South Bend Washington High, once told me she wondered why more high school athletes didn’t consider the junior college option. She saw lots of good athletes with potential turn their nose up to juco and end up not playing anywhere.

In the NFL playoffs this past weekend the Green Bay Packers had two key players who were scorned initially out of high school. Packers superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers grew up in Chico, CA and only received interest from nearby Butte Community College. He went there and shined in his freshman year and was noticed by Cal head coach Jeff Tedford when Tedford was there looking at one of Rodgers’ teammates. That led to a transfer to Cal where he blossomed in two years at Cal. He once told the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper that everything happens for a reason. If Aaron Rodgers can start at junior college, who is anyone else to look down at that as a starting point. From 1985 to 1988 I was sports anchor at KBAK TV in Bakersfield, CA and regularly covered junior college games. There were all kinds of players that transferred up to major D1 from schools I covered like Bakersfield Junior College and Taft Junior College.

Rodgers’ Packers teammate, receiver Jordy Nelson, scored on a TD pass in the opening round of these 2013 NFL playoffs against the 49ers. Growing up in Kansas, Nelson wasn’t offered any D1 scholarships even though he was a star in football and track at Riley County High School. He later said that Kansas and Kansas State wanted him to walk on and his impression was  that they felt if they could get him for free then that would be better than giving him a scholarship.

He did walk on at Kansas State and didn’t play his first year year as a safety. A switch to wide receiver his junior year led him to explode as he caught 206 passes for 2,822 yards for K-State and ended up being drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by Green Bay. Nelson  caught 9 passes for 140 yards in Super Bowl XLV.

So, if you are facing challenges in the recruiting cycle, know that many before you often had to overcome evaluators that missed the boat on them, and in the case of Aaron Rodgers used junior college to launch his dream career.

If remarkable players like Aaron Rodgers and Evan Longoria can be overlooked, then you can too. That is why it is important to use the guidance and experience of the NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network to help you through the frustration that can come when you are wondering why there are not more offers.

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As a longtime motivational speaker, one of the things I like to do in this column is inspire you, and ask you what are you doing to separate yourself?

Former star Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman, who is now in the College Football Hall of Fame, said this when he was enshrined into that Hall:

“I would put a piece of bologna in my pocket and let my dog chase me around. It helped me work on movement. Growing up, everything was about becoming a better player. I recognized as a young kid what I had to do to get where I wanted to go.”

I once knew a young lady who wanted to be a great rebounder in basketball. She lived on a farm with grain bins. Every evening she would get her father to throw the basketball up on the uneven grain bins, forcing her to quickly figure out the angle of the ball as it came bouncing off the roof. She went on and became her High School’s all time leading rebounder and earned a college basketball scholarship.

Having success in recruiting involves a lot of things, including separating yourself with effort

To learn more about what level of College Sports you would qualify for at this stage of Recruiting, click here

Charlie Adams was a sports anchor for 23 years, where he saw many families struggle with the recruiting process because of a lack of education on the subject. Charlie is a supporter of NCSA’s message of Athleadership and often speaks on the recruiting process. Since 2005 he has been a motivational speaker with his keynotes and seminars often being bases on sports-related themes. Corporate leaders that bring him in as a speaker often tell him that they seek to hire former college athletes because those athletes bring the ability to manage time, lead, compete, set and reach goals, and work as team players because of their college athletics background. Charlie has written four books on peak performance and the power of attitude. For more information on his programs go to StokeTheFireWithin.com

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David Frank