I received an e-mail from the father of 6-3, 225-pound senior linebacker J.C. Barchard of Crystal Lake South. By all accounts, he is a very good high school football player. All of which makes his father wonder why his son isn't attracting more attention from college programs. It is a dilemma that many fathers face.
"He is still being recruited by several schools," Dean Barchard's e-mail stated. "Some of the schools that have shown recent interest are Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota State, Illinois State, Northern Illinois and Buffalo University. But no offers yet. Many schools are asking: 'Who do you have offers form so far?' as though they would offer if someone else had offered. Just haven't gotten that first one yet."
This is a familiar story.
It is so late in the recruiting process. Colleges are working on juniors, not seniors. But there still are a lot of scholarships available.
What this case tells you that the college coach doesn't have confidence in his own evaluating ability. At least half of the college programs don't have enough confidence in their own evaluating skills to offer a kid who doesn't have any offers. They want to play it safe mainly because of the pressure the head coach puts on his assistants to bring in bonafide players. He figures if other colleges haven't offered, there must be a reason.
But there are so many examples of big-time players who were overlooked in high school, emerged in college once they got an opportunity and now are standouts in the NFL. Jim Leonard, from Wausau, Wis., was a walkon at Wisconsin, became an All-Big 10 selection and now plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
We've mentioned Barry Sanders, Kurt Warner and Drew Brees in the past. Sanders was rejected by Northwestern. Oklahoma State finally took him only because they lost every other prospect on their list.
What should Barchard and other seniors who believe they have been overlooked do to attract some interest?
Put together a highlight film. The parent should work with the high school coach. Have your high school coach send the film with a letter of recommendation to college coaches and ask them for their opinion and evaluation. Can he play for them? Where can he play? Ask the college coach to call the high school coach back. A college coach will always return a call to a high school coach because he may have players they want in the next year or two. They wouldn't risk closing a door to a high school.
And send me a copy of the film. I annually evaluate hundreds of highlight films of blue-chip players and kids who end up playing in Division II or III. If a kid is good enough to play in Division I, I'll recommend him to coaches. I've been doing it for 30 years, free of charge. It's what I do.