The problem with recruiting is parents. Oh, kids make mistakes. So do their high school coaches. There are so many outside influences offering advice that it is difficult to tell the difference between A, B and C.
This is where the parents must step in and take charge. This isn't an ego trip. This is their son's future we're talking about. If they don't make a wise decision, their son will most likely become another statistic on the escalating list of de-commitments and transfers.
No, parents shouldn't decide which college their son should attend. Their son should make that decision by himself. But they should be responsible for providing all of the important information so their son can make an intelligent choice, one he won't regret.
I remember tagging along with Illinois football coach Mike White and assistant Bill Callahan on a recruiting trip in the early 1980s while they visited six highly regarded prospects in the Chicago area. I was amused at how far some parents and high school coaches would go to impress the Illinois coaches.
I tried to put myself in their shoes. This was supposed to be a business trip, not a social event, it seemed to me. I couldn't understand why the parents and recruits didn't bother to ask important questions that had a bearing on the recruiting process.
In nearly every case, it appeared that the high school coaches and parents were more interested in showing White and Callahan a good time rather than asking some questions that could prove to be embarrassing, if not illuminating.
For example, why are you bringing so many junior college players into your program, coach White? What impact will they have on the high school players you are recruiting?
"Parents are trying to help their son get as far as he can but they have to know when to back off and do what is best for their son," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
"In most cases, kids have to fit a certain size to fit a certain position in college. Recruiters look at other things, like potential, more than they look at production.
"Parents have to realize that a 5-9 quarterback with great passing statistics isn't going to be recruited to play in Division I. I don't want to discourage a kid because some small kids do make it. But, usually, you have to be a certain size to warrant a Division I scholarship."
So parents need to be realistic. At what level can my son play? If he has no scholarship offers by now, that should tell you something. The great players don't have to worry. They know who they are and so do the colleges. They are being offered as juniors.
All-Area and All-State recognition aren't tickets to Illinois or Michigan or Notre Dame, maybe not even Division II. It only means that somebody thinks you are an outstanding high school player. Parents need to understand what it takes to be a college player--Division I, II or III, junior college or NAIA.
The best strategy? If your son has size and speed for his position and demonstrates some potential as a freshman or sophomore--his high school coach can provide an honest appraisal--you should arrange for him to get as much exposure as possible by attending summer camps. During his junior year, send highlight film to colleges thatseem to be the best fit for him. Make unofficial visits to college campuses.
If your son is a legitimate prospect, you'll know it during his junior year. That's when college coaches begin to evaluate players according to their needs. Notice how many scholarships are offered to juniors these days? That means college coaches are doing their jobs. That means parents should do theirs.