One thing I have learned since I began blogging for the Sun-Times--and educated readers have pointed it out to me--is how ignorant many people are about the recruiting process.
There are so many myths and misconceptions. Some believe that if a player is good enough, he will be discovered by a college recruiter. They believe players don't have to promote themselves, send film to college coaches, attend one-day exposure camps or even meet academic standards.
What planet are they living on?
Every year there is a new crop of players who have to be taught the ABCs of recruiting. The biggest mistake that recruits make each year is delaying, not getting on top of things early enough. The recruiting process should start before the beginning of their junior year. Many don't do anything until the end of their junior year. That is a huge mistake in judgment.
Also, they shouldn't rely too much on the high school coach. They have to do things on their own. Or they should have their parents do it. They must get information out...size, speed, strength, statistics. They also must send out film and transcripts, anything to impress the eyes of a college evaluator. And the sooner, the better.
Remember, the junior year is the most important year for a high school athlete, much more important than the senior year. That's the way it is in recruiting today.
Most people are misinformed about the process. They are coming in new while some of us, recruiting analysts and college coaches, have been doing it for years. Signing up for Internet sites doesn't do any good unless they contact colleges for you, as Chicago-based National College Scouting Association (NCSA) does.
Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money unless you just want to see your face or video on a computer screen.
What about combines? People don't realize that for every guy who turns in a great performance at a combine, there are three or four who don't do nearly as well. Sometimes careers can be cut short because an athlete doesn't do well at a combine. He runs 4.7 or 4.8 or doesn't perform well in one-on-one drills or doesn't show his athletic ability.
Combines don't mean as much to college recruiters as people think. Some kids, for example, have good football speed because of their instincts but don't record a good time for the 40-yard dash. And, of course, nobody can judge the heart and intensity of an athlete by looking at a questionnaire.
Be wary of people in the business, people who profit monetarily because you are attending a combine. That is their No. 1 goal--to make money. Your No. 1 goal is to earn a college scholarship.
So go to college one-day camps in the spring or summer or instructional camps when you are younger. Colleges are the only ones who can offer scholarships. After your junior year, if you are a prospect, the colleges will invite you to one-day camps on their campus. If 100 kids attend a camp, 10 will be offered scholarships at the most.
But, remember, kids can burn out at combines. Some parents urge their kids to go to seven or eight camps. The mental pressure that is put on them is enormous.
Finally, keep this in mind: Ninety-nine percent of the leading prospects in the country are identified by college recruiters after their junior year, based on their junior performance, what they have done previously. No big-name player ever surfaced at a combine without having been known before he showed up.