I recently received a note from Jasper Abbate, the father of Glenbard North defensive end Nick Abbate. He wants to know how his son, a 6-2, 220-pound senior who has been named to the Sun-Times' 25-member All-Chicago Area team, can get more colleges interested in him.
It is an all-too-common dilemma. Many parents and coaches wonder why players aren't getting much if any attention from college recruiters. They think their sons or players have Division I potential and can't understand why nobody else agrees with them. They wonder what they can do to attract some attention.
My immediate response: move real quick. You should have been moving a year ago. It is too late for me to help seniors. Most colleges are recruiting juniors, not seniors.
I can help but I could have helped a lot more a year ago. Nobody sent me any information or highlight film on Abbate. He has linebacker size, not defensive end. He should have gone to college summer camps last summer as a linebacker so colleges could see him at that size.
When a player's junior year ends, that is the time to get going on recruiting. By July 1, most scholarship offers have been extended.
But let's deal with Nick Abbate's situation. Let's see if we can help him. He has linebacker size but he has great statistics as a defensive end for a defense-minded team that reached the state semifinals. He was the defensive player of the year in the DuPage Valley, one of the most competitive conferences in the state.
He has Division I potential. He could be recruited as a linebacker or a defensive end if he gains 30-40 pounds. What should he do? Put together a highlight tape with the best players at the beginning of the tape. Have coach Ryan Wilkens mail the film to schools that might be interested or that you are interested in, where you think you can play. And have the coach include a note, requesting the college coach to review the film quickly and get back to Wilkens, indicating if Abbate can play at that level or not.
Then work down your list of schools until you find someone who is interested. Start with Division I, then go to Division 1-AA.
I receive film from high school coaches from all over the country, more than I get from coaches in the Chicago area. Why? I don't know. But if you feel you have a Division I player, send his tape to me -- Tom Lemming, Box 59113, Schaumburg, Ill., 60159. I don't charge a fee for anything.
But parents and high school coaches must understand that the recruiting process begins at the end of a player's junior year, sometimes earlier in the case of a 5-star prospect. Waiting until the end of a player's senior year often is too late--or at least too late to get an offer from a preferred school that you'd like to attend.
But colleges have priority lists. And while they offer dozens of scholarships, they rarely get every player they want. So they have spots to fill. Now is the time that some schools are trying to find players who have been overlooked or who were late bloomers, the Nick Abbates of this world. So move real quick.