Evaluating isn't an exact science

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I've been evaluating high school football players for nearly 30 years and I can tell you that there is only one thing for certain: Nobody has all the answers. You do the best you can, judging a prospect's talent by whatever system you believe works for you, and hope you get it right.

The truth is someone always sees something different in an athlete. One coach says he's great while another says he's average. One recruiting service ranks a player among the top 100 in the country while another service doesn't rank him among the top 150.

I believe the only way to do it is to see a player in person, watch him on film, talk to him and his coach, get the human effect and determine how big his heart is.

Get a collective opinion. Talk to as many people as you can, people you trust to rate a kid. For some, scholarship offers are the biggest way of deciding on a kid. How many offers does he have? For me, production makes the most difference.

I've changed my ways over the years. I still take size and speed into account when evaluating a player. But production is most important. He must be a dominating player in high school.

He must dominate at his position. Defensive linemen or linebackers must be unblockable. Offensive linemen must blow defensive linemen off the line of scrimmage. Running backs must average seven yards per carry and carry the ball a lot without fumbling. Quarterbacks must complete over 60 percent of your passes and show a big-time arm. Wide receivers can't let defensive backs bat balls away from them. They must take the ball away from cornerbacks and safeties.

Remember, confidence and domination separate All-Americans from good players.

In the evaluation process, most people overlook a kid's heart, his desire to get better. For some kids who are freaks of nature, the game comes easy to them but they don't have the heart and desire to get better. Some kids who are slower and undersized have great desire and usually make it on the college level and are very productive players.

How do you judge that? Talk to the kid in person, determine how much he loves the game of football and how much he is willing to do to get better.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on January 21, 2008 2:05 PM.

How good is high school football in Illinois? was the previous entry in this blog.

Notre Dame lands a de-commitment is the next entry in this blog.

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