Character or characters?

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A common perception of recruiting is colleges will sign any blue-chip athlete who isn't serving a life sentence, that parolees are welcome. Have you checked the rap sheets at some colleges lately?

On the record, however, college coaches insist that character--the mental, ethical and conspicuous or behavioral traits that distinguish an individual--is the most important aspect of the recruiting process.

They want to recruit athletes with character, not characters who are athletes.

So how can you be sure that you will sign a Derrick Rose instead of Stephon Marbury or a Quinn Buckner instead of Pacman Jones?

Over the 30 years that I have been evaluating high school players, I've learned that college coaches are exceptionally competitive. Great players are hard to come by. Character rules out unless a prospect is a difference-maker. Then character is thrown out the window. Then it's all about winning.

Check the list...Maurice Clarett, Ray Williams, Willie Williams, Kyle Williams, Boo Boo Thompson, Philip Macklin, Noel Devine, Travis Henry.

Character can be defined as a kid who is a good team player and a good student and someone who stays out of trouble on the field. But college coaches also look for 6-3, 250-pound running backs with 4.5 speed, even if they have been arrested 10 times.

There always is a market for trouble-makers who are elite players. That is the hypocrisy of the recruiting process. It depends on the college program. Some have a history of taking bad kids, no matter who the head coach is. Other schools, because they are run by the admission office and administrators, schools where the president and influential alumni have more power than the football coach, aren't allowed to take those type of kids.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on July 24, 2008 11:26 AM.

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