A lot of people who are involved in the recruiting process today don't understand how much it has changed over the years and how much they need to adjust to deal with the issues they must confront. It's a whole new ball game.
When I began evaluating players in the late 1970s, there was no sense of urgency. Almost all scholarships were offered after a player's senior season. There was no Internet, no other recruiting services, no cell phones, no e-mail, no text messaging, no ESPN. Most schools recruited within a 300-mile radius of their campus.
Colleges sent questionnaires and mailings to high schools in their area to gather information on prospective athletes. They rarely recruited outside their areas, usually when an alumnus informed them about a prospect. There were no recruiting coordinators, just a lot of 16 mm film.
When did it all change?
The system slowly began to change in the 1980s with the introduction of the Internet, DVDs and VHS tapes. Instead of the large canisters used to house 16 mm film, it became easier for parents and high school coaches to mail tapes and game films. The Internet made it easier to post videos.
But the sense of urgency began in 1992 when Penn State coach Joe Paterno decided to offer dozens of players early after losing all of the top prospects in Pennsylvania the year before. He was successful and forced other schools to follow his lead. In one dramatic season, the recruiting process was blown into what it is today.
Today, colleges must offer juniors by the signing day for seniors, more than a year in advance of their graduation date. If a junior has only one or two offers by July 1, prior to his senior season, he should take one of them. If he has seven or eight offers or more, however, he should wait, take his time and make an educated decision.
That is why it is important for sophomores and juniors to send out film early and attend as many college camps as possible to get maximum exposure.
One-day college camps are the best. There are too many other camps designed to make the sponsors money off the players. They are watered down. They invite everybody so long as they pay $40 to $60 to attend. If you pay, they'll invite anyone.
So pick a one-day college camp. If they like you, they'll make an offer. Kids should mail their junior film with a highlight package to as many colleges as possible. And visit as many schools unofficially as you can. Let them see you. Make yourself known.
The colleges will take care of the rest. If they don't know who you are, it is best to let them know and see them in person. If they do know who you are, you don't have to do any work. The top 30 in the Chicago area and the top 500 around the country don't have to go to camps. The colleges know who you are. Just wait by the phone.