Evaluating football talent is an inexact science. I've been evaluating high school players since 1978 and, like many others, I passed on Barry Sanders. Every year, there are hits and misses. And the critics always remember the ones you missed. That's the nature of the game.
Do you know a prospect when you see one? What do you look for when you're trying to determine if an 18-year-old can compete in the Big Ten or the SEC or if he is better suited for the MAC or Mountain West?
I get names of prospective recruits through contacts I have developed over the years in every region of the country. First, I obtain game film. Then I have to see him in person. That's the easy part.
To be recruited by major college programs, a prospect must fit close to the size that his position dictates. For example, quarterbacks must be 6-2 or taller. Offensive tackles must be 6-5 or taller.
Speed is important, too. Linebackers must run 40 yards in 4.6 or 4.7 seconds. Wide receivers and cornerbacks must run 4.3 or 4.4. But I believe it is more important for running backs to possess instincts and lower body strength rather than speed.
High school athletes, coaches and parents must understand that college recruiters don't offer scholarships on the basis of press clippings, statistics and all-state recommendations. They try to project players two or three years down the road, if they will be big enough and strong enough and fast enough and skilled enough to compete at their level.
Think about that the next time you are trying to determine if a high school senior is good enough to play in the Big Ten or SEC.