Today is the first of a six part series designed to help student-athletes and their parents know what to expect at the various stages of the recruiting process. I briefly explained these stages in the post, Recruiting – Gauging Their Level Of Interest; I will be going into greater detail at each step to help you maximize each of these opportunities to market yourself.
Today’s post will detail the first in person contact the recruiting coach will make with you at school. This is the third of nine levels on the “Interest Pyramid”. To get to this level, your coach will have already recommended you as a player that he feels has the potential to play college football. You are on the college’s list as a potential player, and have probably already begun receiving information from them and filled out a questionnaire. The coaching staff at the college has probably already requested video tape, and this has been evaluated by at least the recruiting coach, and possibly by the position coach and head coach at the college as well.
During the Fall, after this initial evaluation has been completed, college coaches will start making the rounds and begin their in person visits with the prospective student athletes at their school. Typically, coaches will only do a face to face visit with players they believe have a chance of being a scholarship athlete in their program. It is an indication of a higher level of interest, but still not a true indication of their final intent.
Normally, college coaches will schedule this meeting through your high school coach, but may also email or phone you to set up the time. Often, the coaches will come unannounced, so being prepared for this initial “job interview” is important.
Approach this meeting as a job interview… a very important job interview. As the saying goes, “you only have one chance to make a first impression” – consider what you want this first impression to be. Make no mistake about this; the college recruiting coach will be continually evaluating you during this meeting, and through all of the remaining recruiting process. They are making a decision on whom to invest a significant amount of time and money into, and they want to be correct.
When this meeting takes place there should be two simultaneous “sells” taking place. The recruiting coach (if he is good) will for sure begin the process of selling his university and football program to you. At the same time, you should begin selling yourself as the best possible investment their football program could make in a student-athlete. Here are some suggestions on how to successfully do that.
If the meeting has been arranged with your knowledge, and it is not unannounced, there are a couple of things you can do to prepare:
- Dress nice – you don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but dress to impress. I was once told by a head college coach that he “always wanted to hear if any of the prospective student athletes were wearing any f**k you kind of T-shirts.”
- Do some research on the school so you will be prepared to ask intelligent questions. Be familiar with the schools location, conference, record, etc.
Even if the meeting is unannounced, here are some things you can work on now to begin preparing yourself for any meeting, with any coach at any time.
The coach WILL ask you some questions; be prepared for these. Here are some to expect, some that I asked when I was recruiting:
- They will check the basic info they have on you, including phone, email, address, parents name, etc.
- What are you interested in studying?
- What are you interested in doing as a career?
- Do you have any hobbies?
- What position would you prefer playing in college?
- What other schools have been in to talk to you?
- Do you have any “official” visits set up? If so, where?
- When it comes time to make this very important decision as to where you are going to go and spend the next 4-5 years studying, and playing football, whom are you going to be looking towards for guidance and direction? Who will help you make this decision?
- When it comes time to make this very important decision as to where you are going to go and spend the next 4-5 years studying, and playing football, what are the difference makers for you; what factors will separate one university and football program from the rest?
Make sure to answer the questions honestly, but also know the recruiting coach will be using your answers to these questions (if he is good) to individually tailor his “sell” to your needs and wants.
The coach WILL ask you if you have any questions. Be prepared for this – there is little that is as unimpressive as someone who just sits like a bump on a log, and little as impressive as someone who asks some good, thoughtful questions. Don’t think you have to find out everything at this initial meeting – there is plenty of time. But do have a couple of questions handy that you are ready to ask.
Here are some possible questions to ask at this meeting – add any based on factors important to you:
- Type of offense (defense)
- How long has head coach been at school?
- How long has position coach been at school?
- Degree programs they are noted for?
- Graduation Rate?
- Redshirt philosophy?
- Ask the number and grade level of players at your position?
- Where do you see me fitting into your offense (or defense)?
- How is student support for the program?
- How is your Strength and Conditioning program? Do you have a full time (or two) Strength and Conditioning coach?
Here are some general “rules” on how to impress at this meeting:
- Be on time.
- Begin the meeting with a firm handshake.
- Introduce yourself.
- Make eye contact, with him and speak clearly and with confidence.
- Address him as Coach (last name)
- No food, gum or candy.
- The coach will probably have some collateral marketing material from university and/or football program. Depending on the level, NCAA FBS, FCS, DII, DIII or NAIA it could be a game day program or a football media guide along with a college view book. Thank him for the material, but put it aside to look at later. Don’t sit and read the game program while the coach is talking to you!
- Pay attention – lean in and listen intently.
One thing you can do that would be VERY helpful and insure you “hit the ground running” at your first meeting, is to have a “dress rehearsal” by doing some role playing. After you have thought through your answers to the above questions, and thought about the questions you want to ask, see if your high school coach or parent will help. It may sound silly, but it will prove dividends. Like anything else, practicing, from the opening handshake and introduction, to the conclusion of the meeting, will improve your performance. Every time you meet with a college recruiter, your performance will be better than the previous time. You want to make sure you impress every time – first to last.
The last pieces of advice that I gave every prospect I spoke with:
- Find out everything you can about every college and football program that expresses an interest in you. Ask questions, difficult questions, investigate, and ultimately make a decision based on what you find out and what is important to you and your family.
- Have Fun! Enjoy the process. You have put yourself in the position where good schools and good football programs are interested in you.
As always, questions and comments are welcome – feel free to join in the discussion!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @youcandomore1
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