Go to camps, not combines

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I received an e-mail from a concerned high school coach the other day. I think he speaks for a lot of coaches and I hope I can put his mind at ease and, at the same time, provide some sensible advice that he can use his players in the future.

"I am a head football coach and I have done everything I can possibly think of from sending out films, taking visits, calling and e-mailing coaches, taking my players to combines and camps, etc.," the coach wrote. "Is there anything else? Maybe my evaluation skills are wrong. Maybe I think my kids are better than they really are. I don't know."

Coach, you have done everything right. There is only so much a coach can do. Now it is up to the college coaches to decide if they like your players or not. To use an overused old saw, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Well, you can lead a coach to a prospect but you can't make him offer a scholarship if he doesn't like him.

Your job is to make sure the college coach is aware of your player and make sure they look at the film. After I watch a film, I give it to the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) and they allow every coach in the country to watch it for free. College coaches don't offer a kid based on a high school coach's recommendation. The final decision is up to the college coach. And college coaches can be wrong in their evaluations. Remember Russell Maryland, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Barry Sanders and Kurt Warner?

Here is some more advice that I have found helpful over 31 years in this business:

Make sure your players attend as many one-day college camps as possible. That's how they get scholarships. A college will offer before a kid leaves the campus if they like him. The bottom line is earning a full scholarship. At a one-day camp, the college coaches see a prospect in person. They will work you out and you have a chance to show them what you can do. The reward could be a scholarship worth $200,000.

Remember, college coaches can't attend combines. So you are spinning your wheels at combines. One-day camps are more intense. You know you are being scrutinized by people who can really help you.

Combines? There are too many of them. Some are fun by qualified people and some are not. Since college coaches aren't permitted to be present, prospects are stroking their own egos. They are draining their strength. Some combines give results to colleges, some sell the results and some don't release the results at all.

I recommend that kids should spend their time and energy at a one-day college camp. If you have multiple offers, don't go to a combine but go to a camp at a college that hasn't offered you. Or take a vacation. Or take unofficial visits to as many schools to check out the social and academic aspects of the program.

Time is limited. Don't waste it at a lot of useless combines. Instruction combines are good for freshmen and sophomores. Football University is a good instructional camp for younger kids. It's about learning, not about recruiting.

Honestly, in all of my experience, I have never heard of a senior who jumped on the national stage because of his appearance and exposure at a combine. In fact, some combines inform kids that if they don't show up, they won't get any publicity. It is up to the parents and high school coaches to be weed out the good guys from the bad guys.

Another camp I heartily recommend is Jamie Kohl's kicking camp at Wisconsin-Whitewater in July. Kohl once was a punter for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. In my mind, it is the best punting camp in the country. NFL punters serve as instructors. For information, call (262) 510-9010.

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"Is there anything else? Maybe my evaluation skills are wrong. Maybe I think my kids are better than they really are. I don't know."
This is a quote you hear all too often from coaches who are doing all they can to assist their players. Coach- it is great that you believe in your kids and are helping them to the best of your ability. That alone is rare in this day and age. The challenge is, combines and camps just do not reach enough college coaches. These kids ARE good enough to play somewhere, they just need massive exposure to open those lines of communication to the RIGHT coaches.
The challenge fora high school student-athlete to get the necessary level of exposure to college coaches is overwhelming to most families due to lack of information about the recruiting process and how it really works. Most families are told to pick their top 10-20 colleges and go after these schools. With only one out of 20 high school athletes getting the opportunity to play their sport in college 10-20 schools is NOT a big enough number to create realistic opportunities for a high school athlete. They need to introduce their "body of work" to hundreds of college coaches not 20. Parents need to speak to someone who has the ability to make these introductions to the RIGHT college coaches.
I thank all the coaches out there that are putting the time in to assist their kids. Parents- please be proactive about this process. Do your research. Do NOT expect your coach to handle this all for your son or daughter. If they help you it is out of the kindness of their hearts. They are very busy and have limited access to these college coaches. As parents, if your son or daughter is serious about playing in college, talk to someone who can assist you with this process.
Recruiting has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. It is big business when we are talking about the average college cost being over $130,000. Do NOT leave your son or daughter's college opportunities up to fate.

Thanks for the reply and advise on the subject of recruiting. I have one other question that has always puzzled me...What is the criteria that makes up an "national" recruit...and how and when was that "national" recruit "discovered"? I am very active with recruiting my student-athletes and for the last 8 years coaching I always see these "National" Recruit Lists like Rivals 100 and ESPN 250. Most of these lists are compiled before a kids senior year right?..... so I take it all of those listed probably were studs as Freshmen, Sophomores,and Juniors in high school to make these lists correct? By the way I really enjoy reading your updates on IL High School football....I grew up and played high school football in IL at state-power Geneseo. I went on to Quincy University and played 3 years of college football before I had reconstructive knee surgery. After my injury, I transferred to Western IL and coached at nearby Carthage High School. After graduation, I moved out to Virginia to teach and coach and enjoy reading your posts to keep up with news back home in IL.

Well Tom, you left out one of the most important aspects for skill position players....position academy's. Having been affiliated with QBA for 3 yrs, I see the success the trainees are having from jr high thru to the pro's. In addition, their connections help with college contacts and many are former collegiate athlete's themselves.

many other position academy's do help and I think leaving them out of the mix is an oversight. I wouldn't trust my QB kid to anyone other than Darin and his crew, but your mileage may vary.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on April 22, 2010 9:03 AM.

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