My Recruiting Process
To start, I can tell you my recruiting process wasn’t an easy one. In fact, it was quite frustrating and I was lucky to come out of it at all. It’s pretty much one of those, “If I knew then what I know now” situations. I didn’t know what I needed to do to be recruited besides what I was doing on the field, court and track. I just thought my high school coaches would promote my talents and the college coaches would recruit me from there.
Ever since middle school I was a standout three-sport athlete in football, basketball and track. As a freshman I was one of only two football players moved up to varsity for the playoffs, in basketball I was the leading scorer and MVP, and in track I made it to state in the 110 hurdles and high jump. As a sophomore I was moved up to Varsity on a state championship caliber football team, in basketball I was moved up to Varsity part way through the season, and in track I placed 3rd in the state for the 300 hurdles.
Because of my athletic accomplishments my first two years of high school, I thought I had set a pretty good foundation for recruiting by my sophomore year. The summer after my sophomore year, I received a few college brochures and by early fall I had started getting letters for track and football. Not to mention after two summers of attending a Division III school’s basketball camp, they had already started talking to me about scholarships opportunities. The next two years however would not turn out to be as easy.
Three games into my junior football season I separated my shoulder. This not only put me out for the rest of the football season, but basketball season as well. Needless to say, at this point all most all contacts stopped. I didn’t think it was a big deal though; I still had my senior year right? That winter I trained hard and tried to come back strong for track season. By regionals I was ranked 3rd in the state in the 300 hurdles and top ten in the 110 hurdles. But then I had another set back, I pulled my hamstring and fell in the regional 110 hurdles. I tried to fight through it for other events, but inevitably had to pull out of those as well. I was still able to heal enough by state for the 400 and 800 relay’s (taking 5th and 3rd place respectively as a team), but I had no individual events to show for it. Also, because of my hamstring I was unable to attend any football combines to try to showcase some of my athleticism. This is where solid recruiting education would have really benefited. If I had a company like NCSA to keep me in touch with contacts, as well as still generate new ones with my profile and past film, missing my junior season wouldn’t have been so damaging. I basically missed the most important year for college recruiting and didn’t even know it.
The summer before my senior year, I was able to gain one D-I football contact but that was only because my brother-in-law was an ex-player and a current Graduate Assistant. Then during my senior football season, I was taken out of my normal position at split end and used as the starting tailback because of need. While I was still able to gain all conference honors, it wasn’t the position I would be playing in college and I wasn’t able to get much school interest. I wasn’t promoting myself to schools and I didn’t know how. All I knew was what I needed to do on the field. I didn’t know how to be proactive in the recruiting process so schools would really know about me.
The D-I schools that my coach was able to gain interest with wanted me to come on as a preferred walk-on. They said I was a better athlete than most of the individuals they recruited but they had already used up their offers months ago. I decided to hold off signing a letter of intent until after track season. I also decided to sit out basketball again so I could train for track season. I knew my best chance to compete at the D-I level was with football and track and I didn’t want to take any chances.
After receiving all state honors in three events at the state meet, I still only came out of high school with one D-I scholarship opportunity from Western Michigan University, who wanted me to be their next “up and coming” decathlete. While I enjoyed my time at WMU, I accepted their offer because I didn’t know what other choices I had. I didn’t take full advantage of what D-II or D-III programs had to offer, and I was never once proactive in promoting myself to schools I was interested in at the D-I level.
My recruiting story is one of an athlete who fell through the cracks. If I would have had a program like NCSA in 1997-98 I would have been able to rebound more from my set backs. I have no doubt I would have had opportunities nationwide and been able to find the best fit for me. I didn’t know the facts then and that ultimately hurt my opportunities. Now however, I have the opportunity to pass on what I’ve learned so young athletes don’t make the same mistakes I did.