Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I will be back on my blogging grind beginning February 4, 2011. I've been super busy completing my FREE book on recruiting. For those of you who may not know, I do answer my Facebook emails regularly. If you have questions or comments, hit me up on my FB page at Connie On Fb Recruiting!
Goodbye until Friday, February 4, 2011!!
(Oh, a big CONGRATULATIONS to all the athletes who were fortunate enough to solidify football scholarships on National Signing Day! What a major accomplishment for each of you!)
Friday, June 4, 2010
Lately I’ve been communicating a lot with prospects all over the country. Every day prospects are emailing me with questions about getting more exposure. While I openly welcome such emails, I must shed some light on one big unrealistic request: “Please help me get into Penn State!” To that request I must say this, EVERYBODY CAN’T GO TO PENN STATE!
2. Programs like Penn State are permitted to bring in a maximum of 25 initial, football scholarship recipients per year.
Remember, even if Penn State wanted to award hundreds of athletic scholarships, Penn State is limited by the NCAA guidelines. Penn State is only allowed 85 healthy football players on the roster at one time.
Additionally, Penn State cannot annually issue more than 25 initial football-related scholarships. In other words, each year only 25 super-lucky, amazingly-skilled, first-time scholarship recipients can have the opportunity to play at Penn State.
To further complicate matters, you also have to consider the current needs of the team. You have to find out if Penn State will need to fill the gap for 25 new players. Most times, schools like Penn State will have less than 25 new slots available. For the upcoming 2011 class, Penn State is looking to award about 12-14 scholarships. Within that 12-14 range, there is also a breakdown PER POSITION. For the 2011 class, Penn State could be looking to bring in just ONE linebacker, ONE runningback, TWO cornerbacks, and so on, up to the 12-14 scholarship limit.
Rhetorical question, how can 1000 linebackers go to Penn State next year when Penn State only has ONE linebacker slot available for 2011?
I asked many of you similar questions using your positions and graduation dates. I was amazed with the answers that I received. Most of you believe that you will be that one. Additionally, many of you have dreams of the NFL. When asked about your present recruiting situations, almost 100% of the juniors that I talked to were still looking for that first or second offer. To all of you I say this, dream with your eyes open! Here are some tidbits of reality:
Your odds of securing a Penn State football-related scholarship are slim if:
1. You lack sufficient exposure
2. You’re a senior and you still haven’t started on varsity
3. You’re a rock in the classroom
4. You lack good character
5. You have marginal football talent
6. None of your high school coaches believe you’re Penn State material
7. Your athletic abilities don’t match Penn State’s needs
8. You are not a top football recruit
While the list may read like a dream killer, it is actually the reality for most of you. To dream with your eyes open means to dream big with a realistic backup plan. Ask yourself these questions: What will I do if I don’t get a Penn State offer? What are my realistic options? Am I willing to consider less traditional programs? Could I see myself as a part of a DI-AA, DII or DIII program? What about junior college? Have I been honest with myself about my football talent? Do I really have what it takes to succeed at the next level? Is playing college football really in my future?
To dream with your eyes open, you must think and plan realistically. You must understand the rules of the recruiting game. If other schools have offered you, don’t wait too late for that coveted Penn State offer. If you do, you may lose out on a realistic opportunity while waiting on a dream! On the other hand, if Penn State does offer you, are you really in a position to play the signing day hat game? Many of you are not! If you want Penn State and they offer you, take it! Commit, commit, commit!!
Remember, everybody can’t go to Penn State. Only a lucky few of you will! While there may be people who can pull some strings to get you in, remember, those people are few and far in between. Dream the impossible but plan for the reality. Everyone can’t be the exception. Most people are the rule!
NOTE: Penn State in this entry is a metaphor for FBS (formerly DI-A) programs. I used Penn State because many of you talk about Penn State quite often. Most of what I’ve said here is applicable to all FBS programs. Securing a football scholarship with a FBS program is a long shot for many athletes. Consequently, my advice to you is to dream with your eyes open. You must be knowledgeable about the recruiting process; you must be mindful of dream-givers (folks who say they can get you that FBS offer); and you must be realistic by backing up your dreams with realistic plans. This is the same advice I gave both my boys!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
While the spring blooms with spring practices and spring games, this time of year also showers high schools with DI & DII college coaches. Prior to getting involved with college football recruiting, I thought that the fall season was the only important season for football players. I now know that each season brings something new for football prospects. Football recruiting is a 365-day process.
Per the NCAA guidelines, the spring evaluation period runs from April 15th to May 31st. During this time, DI & DII programs are allowed to visit high schools in order to observe prospects in live action play and to review the prospects’ academic records. DI programs are restricted to two visits per high school, while DII programs are not limited to any specific number of visits during this period.
According to the NCAA rules, each DI & DII program must select what is roughly a 4-week, institutional specific window in which to complete evaluations. Remember that the selected window of time must occur between April 15th and May 31st. Additionally, some DI programs have further restrictions. The head coaches of the larger DI football programs are not allowed to participate in the off-campus spring evaluations.
Rutgers Head Coach, Greg Schiano, is known for visiting prospects in style. Check out this visit that Coach Schiano made to Timber Creek Regional High School during a period in which he was allowed to visit high schools as head coach of a larger DI program.
DI programs are allowed one phone call per junior prospect during the spring evaluation period. In my research I’ve found that most programs save those calls for head coaches to make. Prospects who receive calls from DI programs during the spring evaluation period may be well on their way to securing football scholarships from the DI programs making the calls.
During the spring evaluation period, visiting college coaches are permitted to meet at length with high school head coaches and guidance counselors. Per the NCAA rules, visiting college coaches are only allowed incidental communications with prospects and recruits. Incidental communication is basically a quick hello in passing.
Live evaluations are permitted during such sports like baseball, track or spring football. College coaches of larger programs cannot attend camps and combines devoted to agility, flexibility, speed or strength testing. Even when performing live evaluations during spring sports, visiting college coaches must still reframe from talking with athletes.
What No One Tells You…
1. Prospects should immediately identify the appropriate divisions for schools which express interest. DI, DII and DIII programs each have a different set of regulations for the spring evaluation period. By identifying a college’s division, you can determine the allowable visit and call schedules per the NCAA rules.
2. Prospects should be presentable in attire, grooming, hygiene, etc. Even though visiting college coaches are only allowed incidental communication, prospects must still present positive images to the visiting coaches. Bad first impressions could be scholarship deal breakers for you.
3. During live athletic evaluations, prospects must workout in practices just as hard as they would perform in actual games. Remember, the visiting coaches are observing to assess your abilities to positively contribute to their football programs. The spring evaluation period is the time for you to turn your video highlights into real-life, play-action moves.
4. High school attendance during the spring evaluation period is crucial. Many colleges are limited as to the number of visits that they are allowed to make. If you are not in school on the day a college visits to perform an athletic evaluation, you may decrease your chance of receiving a scholarship offer during the spring evaluation period.
5. Verify that your guidance office and head coach have your correct contact information by personally reviewing the information in your high school file. Recently, a personalized recruiting letter from a PAC-10 program was mailed to our former address. The current occupants opened it because for some reason, it was also addressed with the wrong name! My son’s school somehow provided the college with outdated information.
6. If you improved your grades since the last marking period, make sure that the guidance counselor has proof of the improved grades on file. Sometimes a reference letter from a teacher works the same way. During spring evaluations recruiters are reviewing your academic files to determine your probable compliance to NCAA standards. If you slipped up in the past but recently changed your ways, prove it! Your improved grades will show your dedication, hard work, and willingness to progress as a student-athlete.
7. Answer all incoming phone calls by saying “hello” and not, “yeah” or “speak to me” or by saying, “who dis?!” Assume that a college recruiter is calling you if you receive a phone call during the spring evaluation period from a telephone number that you do not know! My nephew, B, is famous for answering phone calls like they are all calls coming from his best friend! He totally drives me crazy. This year he was a senior so he received numerous calls from college coaches. Unfortunately, most of those calls were answered with his famous line, “who dis?!” Simply answer the phone by saying, “hello.”
8. When a college coach calls or visits your high school, remember to get his contact information. You will need the school’s name, the coach’s full name, coaching position, direct telephone number, email address, facebook account, etc… Your head coach should secure this information for you during the high school visit. You will have to get this information on your own if you receive direct telephone calls from college coaches.
9. Follow-up via an email or a quick phone call to each coach that expresses interest. During this follow-up contact, express your appreciation for the college’s consideration and your mutual interest, if any. A show of gratitude that a program is taking a look at you could go a long way in the recruiting process. Remember, most college coaches may not be able to return your calls during the spring evaluation period due to NCAA rules. Leave a voicemail message anyway!
10. VERY IMPORTANT – Football is a man’s sport. (Sorry moms but I’m a mom too!) Shake hands like a man (solidly gripped and firm), stand tall, speak clearly and look the recruiter right in the eyes. Again, incidental communication is the quick hello in passing. What I just stated will happen in about 10 seconds flat. You may only have those 10 seconds to present yourself and pass the eyeball test. (The eyeball test is just that. A recruiter will ‘eyeball’ your physique to see if you appear to have the ideal height, weight, and build for the position in which you are being evaluated.)
11. VERY IMPORTANT - Don’t judge a book by its cover. I’ve heard several prospects say that they didn’t like particular schools because the recruiters who represented the schools were boring, dry, impersonal, etc. Just as you wouldn’t want college programs to evaluate you solely on the way you may look or act during brief meetings, be mindful not to make the same judgments toward college programs. Further evaluate the programs by communicating with other coaches, players or students. Perform thorough evaluations on college programs just as they perform thorough evaluations on you!
My2Cents… In my opinion, the spring evaluation period is the time when many college programs call an all out blitz on high school prospects. During this time, college programs make initial investments into prospects who show ability to succeed academically and athletically. College coaches travel around the nation to personally review academic files and to observe prospects in action. This process is time consuming and rather costly.
Since spring evaluations can lead to early scholarship offers, prospects and their families should not take these visits lightly. Preparation is the key to a successful spring evaluation period. Prospects must look, act and be the part. You must show that you are well-groomed, dedicated, hard-working student athletes with good character, academic qualifications and athletic abilities. Prospects must remember that you are competing for scholarships that will cost the schools hundreds of thousands of dollars. Don’t’ assume that you are the school’s one and only prospect for a position. There is always someone who is faster, bigger, quicker, stronger, or smarter.
The most successful prospects are the prospects who understand what happens during the various phases of the recruiting process. If you understand the ‘what’ then you have a better chance of knowing the ‘how’ when it comes to maneuvering through the system.
Just my2cents for now….
Saturday, May 1, 2010
DIII programs do not award athletically related financial aid scholarships. Instead DIII programs offer academic scholarships or need-based financial aid to athletes.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!
Video of Offer Letters (Blogger Version)
To date, my son has 20 written DI football scholarship offers! His first offer was presented by Old Dominion University during an unofficial visit that we took on February 13, 2010. The offer was very special and totally unexpected. Check out our experience and Big Q tearing up when Old Dominion University offered.
ODU Presents Q with First Football Scholarship Offer – 2-13-10
1. Colleges programs are limited by the NCAA as to the number of new scholarship recipients that they can bring in each year. A program may extend 200 offers to fill a 25-30 new signee maximum. Recruits must stay updated on the availability of scholarships for schools in which they are interested.
2. Colleges have limited needs for each position. Upon receiving a football scholarship offer, recruits should immediately find out how many players the school is looking to bring in for that specific position.
3. Colleges can pull scholarship offers at any time during the recruiting process. As stated in items 1 & 2, coaches usually overextend offers to ensure satisfaction of their quotas. Once the quotas are reached, outstanding scholarship offers are usually withdrawn.
4. Colleges might not immediately notify offered recruits that scholarship quotas are filled. From my research I’ve found that recruits in these situations may still have valid scholarship offers. Such offers are considered ‘just-in-case’ offers because recruits are held in limbo just-in-case various situations do not work out with athletes who have already verbally committed. (To be committed means an athlete has verbally accepted the college’s scholarship offer.)
5. Football scholarship offers come with contingencies. While colleges may pull offers because of a numbers game, colleges may also withdraw offers because of the recruits’ failure to satisfy requirements set forth by the NCAA. Recruits are required to complete a set number of core courses with an acceptable GPA and Standardized Testing scoring combination. While some colleges will allow recruits time to attain acceptable scores, most colleges will move forward in the recruitment of other NCAA qualified athletes.
Video of Scholarship Offers (YouTube Version)
6. Recruits are always under the microscope. Most colleges will perform character references prior to presenting recruits with scholarship offers and then again before signing day. Character means a lot to today’s college programs. Remember to work hard, keep a positive attitude and stay out of trouble.
7. VERY IMPORTANT – Get all football scholarship offers in writing. While I already mentioned that neither written nor verbal offers are legally binding, there are still advantages of having offers in writing. Written offers will usually detail the schools’ expectations of recruits. Additionally, written offers usually specify the amounts of athletically related financial aid that the schools are willing to provide. Written offers ensure that there is a mutual understanding that colleges have in fact extended offers to specific athletes.
8. VERY IMPORTANT - When accepting a scholarship offer, accept the offer by committing directly to the head coach. Remember football scholarship offers or acceptances of such offers are not legally binding on the offering programs or the recipient athletes. Committing to the head coach decreases the recruit’s chances of the scholarship offer later being withdrawn or revoked due to quota issues. The head coach bears the ultimate responsibility for the team. It would be bad management for a head coach to accept your commitment and later tell you that he didn’t know the quotas were already filled.
9. VERY IMPORTANT - Communication is the key! Remember college coaches are not mind readers and vice versa. College coaches are limited by NCAA rules as to how often and by which method they can reach out and contact athletes. For the most part, it is the athlete’s responsibility to keep the lines of communication open until September 1 of the athlete’s senior year. At that time, college coaches have more flexibility in contacting recruits. A college coach or recruiter may assume that an offered athlete is not considering the college’s program if there is a lack of communication between the two.
In my opinion, when an athlete has a football scholarship offer, the athlete has an investor who is willing ‘to put his money where his mouth is!’ Football scholarships are investments by college football programs into athletes who show potential to prosper athletically and academically. Athletes have to be willing to accept such investments because in return, athletes have to perform, on and off the field. Lack of performance may eventually lead to a school’s withdrawal of their investment or football scholarship.
College programs and recruits must form relationships prior to finalizing their marriage on National Signing Day. Until then, colleges and recruits can legally change their minds about who gets what and who goes where. Recruits and their families must remember that this is a business marriage. As in life, there is a process through which the relationship will go through. Courtship, falling in love, engagement, and then marriage is the usual path. The football recruiting process is no different.
A football scholarship offer is one step in the football recruiting process. It’s like receiving a proposal of marriage. Either you accept it or you decline it. The written scholarship offer is the diamond ring that an athlete carries around until it’s time to make the relationship legal.
Just my2cents for now….
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Part 1 will discuss competitive football camps, combines and showcases offered through organizations other than colleges. Part 2 will discuss instructional football camps offered through college programs and private organizations.
Part 1 – Competitive Football Camps, Combines and Showcases Offered Through Organizations Other Than College Programs
Before participating in a combine, athletes, high school coaches and families must research the agencies offering the events. There are a lot of organizations offering combines and showcases that cannot truly provide athletes with early exposure to college coaches. Such organizations are usually smaller in size, have very few analysts and usually lack legitimate sponsorships.
Last year as a sophomore, my son participated in his first combine. As a family we researched the various camps, combines and showcases and found that the National Underclassmen Combine (NUC) would best serve our purpose: exposure. Unfortunately while participating in NUC he was injured during one of the events. (I will discuss this point later.)
Quinton Alston @ National Underclassmen Combine – May, 2009
The series of tests given during a football combine may vary depending on the organizing body. From my research, the most popular tests are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, 3-cone drill, and broad jump. Most football combines also include positional drills and some kind of one-on-one competition. Good performance in a combine could result in an athlete getting invited to elite showcases or camps. Additionally, top performing athletes are usually acknowledged at the conclusion of such events.
Here is a short video of this year’s National Underclassmen’s combine held at Matawan High School on April 25, 2010. Included are pics of athletes who won awards in the freshmen division. NOTE: I am not affiliated with any outside organization; therefore, I am not promoting one organization over another. I am only sharing a video of a combine that my family recently attended. My son did not participate in this year’s event. We attended the combine to support the other Timber Creek football players and to take advantage of a networking opportunity.
National Underclassmen (NUC) Combine - April 25, 2010
Over the last few months, my son was invited to several invite-only showcases and camps. Again, we researched the organizations offering the events and selected showcases and camps that would provide the biggest opportunities for exposure to college coaches. Consequently, my son made quite a few connections from his participation in the events. Below is a video of one of the events in which he participated:
What No One Tells You…
1. Most football camps, combines and showcases are NOT free. Even many of the invite-only events charge fees for athletes to participate. Be very careful to research the organizations prior to submitting any payments. Most organizations will not provide a refund should you change your mind about participating.
2. Once you’ve found a legitimate camp, combine or showcase, take advantage of early enrollment discounts. Be mindful of the associated deadlines.
3. While at the events, network, network, network. Usually legitimate events are loaded with knowledgeable and well connected people. Athletes and their parents should work to meet as many people as possible in the inner recruiting circle. Remember, WHO you know is just as important as how you play the game!!
Parent Networking Video – April 24, 2010
4. Bring nutritious snacks and beverages to eat during these events. Camps, combines and showcases usually last for several hours. There are no guarantees that the events will offer food or drinks for purchase. In my experience when concessions are offered they are usually rather costly.
5. Remember that organizers running such events are typically the bloodline contacts to college coaches. Be mindful to follow instructions and fully participate in the activities while displaying a positive attitude. Prospects and their families are always under the microscope during the recruiting process.
6. Athletes must take these competitions seriously. While earlier I mentioned that a good performance could get an athlete invited to an elite event, the opposite could also be true. I personally know a high-profile prospect that had a few bad performances at recent showcases. As a result, analysts wrote unfavorable evaluations about him. The athlete was initially projected to be a 10-15 D1 offer kid. To date, the athlete only has one D1 offer which he received before the events took place. (Since it is still early in the recruitment process, I will keep an eye on this situation and update the blog later.)
7. VERY IMPORTANT – During your research period make sure that you understand what will be required. Participants should know the events that will take place during the competition. For example, you need to know if the competitors will be required to run the 40-yard dash, complete the broad jump, throw the powerball or display positional skills. I recently talked to several athletes who showed up at an event without any knowledge of the day’s activities. As a result they were unprepared. A couple of them didn’t even bring the proper attire in which to compete. Don’t make this big mistake!
8. VERY IMPORTANT – Train, train, train for the competition. Many athletes show up to these events without receiving proper training. My family experienced this first hand. We thought that my son already knew the proper techniques for running a 40 or completing a vertical jump. In reality, he didn’t know the tricks of the trade! The most minor adjustments in a prospect’s technique could gain valuable inches or seconds.
Quinton Alston SPARQ Training – February 2010
9. VERY IMPORTANT – Know the prior stats and work to outperform them. Many camps, combines and showcases post the results of prior competitions. Research the performances for athletes that won or scored high for your position. Before my son went to compete in the NUC, we checked out the prior year’s stats for the linebacker who had the best showing in his class. My son set those stats as the stats to beat when going into the competition. As a result, he did very well and was invited back for the invite-only session.
10. VERY IMPORTANT - Show ‘em what you got! By this I mean that you not only have to be serious about the competitions but you have to go hard the whole time. Reputable camps, combines and showcases usually have the best of the best competing. Everyone gets beat at some point or another. Keep your head in the game and make adjustments to your play. If you don’t you may walk off the field with some of your best skills un-shown.
Badger Sport/Next Level 7 on 7 – February 27 & 28, 2010
In my opinion, competing in camps, combines and showcases is a great way to get a prospect’s name out to a wide-range of college coaches. One thing to remember is that as with most activities associated with the sport of football, one runs the risk of injury. Like I noted above, my son experienced an injury while competing at a combine. Consider all your goals and options when thinking about competing off-season. Make sure that the benefits of competing outweigh the risks.
The most important thing is that the athlete is healthy and able to compete at his fullest potential during the regular football season. College coaches place the highest weight of evaluation on a prospect’s ability to perform on the field. Camps, combines and showcases are bonus plays that offer a competitive edge.
Just my2cents for now….
(Added 4-29-10: My son's injury was very minor, a tweaked hip flexor. Reader thanks for asking!)
Friday, April 23, 2010
OUR SPRING VISIT AND THE HOTEL FROM HELL!
I figured this is a good place to begin since it’s that time of year for us right now. Spring is the time when most D1 programs are into their spring football practices. Per NCAA rules, D1 programs are allowed 15 practice dates within a period of 29 consecutive days, excluding spring break. Each program selects its school specific 29-day time frame. The time frame generally runs somewhere between mid-February to late-April. Here is a video of a spring practice that my family experienced:
Duke’s First Spring Practice – February 14, 2010
Usually at the end of the spring practice period, colleges hold what they may call spring games. Spring games are basically suited-up scrimmages during which the colleges divide their rosters into two teams. In general, the two teams are named after the school’s colors. For example, Duke had the Blue and White teams, Pitt had the Blue and Gold teams, and Temple had the Cherry and White teams.
Pitt’s Blue and Gold game in Pittsburgh, PA – April 17, 2010
Prospects are usually invited to attend spring practices and/or spring games. Attendance at a spring practice and/or a spring game is considered an unofficial visit. It is very important to find out ahead of time what fees you will be responsible for paying while visiting the schools during these unofficial visits. Per the NCAA rules, all prospects can take an unlimited amount of unofficial visits at the expense of the prospects’ families. Colleges cannot provide prospects and/or their families with any financial support during unofficial visits. These unofficial visits can begin as early as an athlete’s freshman year of high school.
1. Spring practices could last around 2 ½ to 3 hours. During that time remember that you could be exposed to the elements if the team is practicing outside. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather.
The Hotel from Hell (part 1)
The Hotel from Hell (part 2)
Note: If you are a prospect and you not sure about your recruiting status with a college program, ask your recruiting coach about your standing. Most colleges will tell you the truth!
Just my2cents for now….
I am a parent of two high school football players. One is a D1 prospect with a 3.4 overall GPA and the other is well….. a son whose story is yet to be told. I started this journey without any knowledge about the football recruiting process. Now don’t get me wrong, I had some knowledge about the game of football, but I was rather clueless about football recruiting.
Initially when I volunteered to help my boys with their recruiting, my one son totally declined my assistance. He was honest in that he told me that he didn’t think that I knew enough about the game to be able to provide him any real help. Essentially, I was fired by my kid before I was actually hired!! We still laugh about that today!!
Being fired by my teenage son was pretty deep for lack of a better word. I was kind of pissed off but instead of accepting my walking papers honorably, I was determined to prove him wrong. I decided to learn the game of football better than he knew it. Ultimately, I wanted to maneuver the football recruiting process well enough to get him into a D1 scholarship.
Consequently, I decided to write this blog so that I could share what I‘ve learned over these past few months. Many of you may have watched my YouTube videos but what you don’t see are the behind the scenes situations that take place. Some situations are rather funny and some are rather serious. The glamour and glitz that athletes and their families imagine about this process is not what I have personally experienced. Yes, we have fun, but there are a lot of factors that go into securing and accepting a college football scholarship.
Several people have written with questions about various colleges and our experiences at those colleges. The purpose of this blog is not to directly discuss any one school or to provide specific advice to anyone. As the name of the blog implies, the purpose of this blog is to give My2cents on the football recruiting process. I am going to share What No One Tells You About The Football Recruiting Process as my family experiences it.
I am an entrepreneur and I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. Business is what I do and what I know. I found that if you go into the football recruiting process understanding that this is a business, you will increase the probability of a positive outcome, a football scholarship.
What is the football recruiting process?
The football recruiting process is big business!! VERY BIG BUSINESS! If nothing else, everyone who reads this blog should click away from it knowing that the football recruiting process is a business!! Given my background, I researched and analyzed football recruiting from a business perspective. Many of the things that I will share are really different business tactics that our family used to help secure full college football scholarships for the boys.
One big thing to remember heading into this process is that not everyone succeeds in business. Even Akio Morita, Walt Disney and Bill Gates had failed businesses at some point in their careers. To me, it’s all about how you move pass those failures that will determine how successful you will be in the future. A football scholarship may not be in the cards for both boys. Each son is an individual entity within the larger scope of the football recruiting process. That’s how I view things so that’s how I continue to proceed….
(Note: For the most part, this blog will discuss the football recruiting process for D1 programs.)