I realized I wanted to play football in college after my sophomore year in high school. I was doing a lot of kicking camps, started to get some interest and wanted to see where things went.
My parents were incredibly helpful with my college recruiting and wanted to do whatever they could to help me. My Dad was the one that set me up with NCSA. We were trying to cast a wide net and NCSA does a really good job of helping you get in front of more coaches.
I really liked NCSA’s platform and the idea behind the site. I thought it was really cool that NCSA offered a social media-like feel to recruiting – Coaches can reach out directly to you; you can reach out directly to coaches and share all of your information you have set up on the NCSA platform. I thought it was really forward thinking. As technology is changing the world, NCSA found a way to do it with college recruiting.
What was most surprising about the recruiting experience was how sporadic it is – the different timelines when coaches could talk to you, the different levels of interest, as well as the many personal interactions that you really don’t see unless you go through it. The most difficult part of the recruiting process was being patient. For me, it was just knowing some things are out of my control or out of my hands and that I had given it everything I had both on and off the field.
Finding the Right Fit
Once I started looking at colleges seriously, I heard from a lot of schools. But one school was always at the top of the list – Stanford.
Athletics were obviously important to me when I was looking at colleges. I wanted to play for a good team. But academics were also important, and I knew Stanford did a great job with that.
Being in California was important to me, too. I liked the idea of staying relatively close to home. Stanford’s campus definitely had a huge impression on me. But it was meeting everyone on the team that solidified my decision – they just kind of spoke my same language. They valued similar things as me, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their team.
I visited a lot of PAC12 schools. But once Stanford made me an offer, my main focus was making sure I had the grades to get in.
I received an offer pretty early on, which was definitely a confidence booster. But I really started to get stressed was when I began to focus on getting into Stanford – I still needed to have good grades and good test scores. You would see guys get offers, but then they wouldn’t be able to go to school there because they didn’t have the grades to get in. That was an incredibly a stressful part of recruiting that I think a lot of people take for granted.
When I made the decision to go to Stanford, I knew I was going to make it on my own. I knew that if I put in the hard work, it would make a difference and help me get even more out of my college experience.
Growing as a Player and a Person
Something I learned to appreciate at Stanford was the network I was able to grow there – The different people and alumni I met were incredibly helpful and ultimately helped me get where I am today.
Life as a student-athlete was difficult as a freshman. There’s a lot to juggle. It’s a completely new way of living your life where you’re busy the whole day. But as a sophomore, you become more comfortable with it and learn to manage your time. As a college athlete, you have to work to find a balance between athletics, academics and just life in general.
The coaching staff at Stanford had a huge impact on my decision to play there. I really enjoyed Coach Alamar – my special teams coach. He taught me so much about punting and kicking and just the different mental games you have to be prepared for when you’re playing at the next level. He played a huge role in my career.
I worked really hard in college and honestly, the opportunity to play professionally just kind of presented itself. But I’m not sure what my life would look like if I didn’t go to Stanford. I think it would be completely different.
My advice to someone who wants to play at the college level is just believe in yourself and keep working hard. I would definitely recommend NCSA. I think it’s super helpful in getting your name out there, any way you can. Casting a wide net has great value because you never know who you’re going to connect with. As long as you’re using NCSA to make connections, it’s a positive tool and can definitely help you in your recruiting process.
– Jake Bailey
New England Patriots