How to Get Recruited, & How to Look for Talent

Question: Do college coaches pay attention to websites like beRecruited.com, or are they a waste of time?

First Answer

From Aaron Ellis, a Track and Field Coach at St. Lucy’s High School in Glendora, CA

I’m really glad that you asked this question. Every year I have discussions with fellow track coaches and coaches in other sports about the validity of the many recruiting tools out there. The websites, the football combines, the summer camps, etc. All supposedly exist to give young athletes more exposure, but how can you tell which ones are worth it and which ones are not?

This really depends on the sport and colleges in question. Because my experience is with track and field, I can give you a few insights to that sport. In track, most middleman recruiting tools are useless. Not all, but most.

College track coaches follow statistics religiously. They know the marks of all the elite athletes and any talented up-and-comers. They don’t know everybody, but they are aware of all the kids who meet their standards. Because there are already web sites like Dyestat.com and Athletic.net, which compile lists of all of the best marks in the state, and Flotrack.org, which has videos of top meets,  they don’t need to go to a recruiting website to know who the best athletes are. The info is already out there.

[JIMSON’S NOTE added June 13, 2012:  ESPN closing its high school business unit, which may affect Dyestat.]

Many college teams have one recruiting coordinator, a coach in charge of recruiting athletes. That coach will visit some of the big invitational each year ( Arcadia Invitational, Mt. Sac Relays, Stanford Invitational, Texas Invitational, Penn Relays, etc) and some of the championship meets (divisional finals, state championships, Junior Nationals and Junior Olympics) strictly to scout new talent. These coaches know what they’re looking for and are very thorough. They watch every race, write down the names of the best athletes, take a few notes and then send recruiting letters to those athletes. If they can’t attend these big meets, they will look up the results. The athletes worth recruiting will compete in at least one of these meets.

The recruiting coordinators are also the ones who read all mail, e-mails and prospective student questionnaires. Honestly, this is the best ways to make your name known to a school. Go the direct route rather than use a middleman. On most college sports websites, there will be contact information for the coaches. They will have information for anyone interested in getting recruited, and many programs will have questionnaires on the websites where you can show all of your information, honors, top marks, GPA, personal interests, etc. Use these tools. This is one of the remarkable ways in which technology has made recruiting better for both the athletes and the coaches. Don’t lie about achievements and marks; just tell the truth about the athlete. Also, understand that every college has its own standards. If an athlete falls short of their academic and athletic standards, they will not pursue  the athlete.

Sample University of Oregon Questionnaire: 

http://www.goducks.com/quest/Questionaire.dbml?&&SPSID=3813&SPID=252&DB_OEM_ID=500&QID=37

College coaches also value word of mouth from other coaches. A high school coach or club coach can be very valuable in getting an athletes name known, even in conversations between strangers. For example, I meet lots of college coaches at track meets and coaches clinics. They always ask me about who my good athletes are, and who are some other local talents. All I have to do is say a name and they will take an interest in the athlete, simply because coaches trust other coaches.

In addition to coaching for ten years, I also spent two seasons as a scout for my alma mater. Every month during track season, I sent them scouting reports about some of the local athletes. This leads me to the last point. College scouts are always out on the prowl. I was tasked with discovering talented high school juniors in Southern California. Every kid who impressed me went in my reports. And I didn’t just list their marks: I described their physique, strengths, weaknesses, experience, character, attitude, reputation among coaches and peers, notable performances, etc. Mind you, I got all of this information without ever having spoken  to one of these athletes. It mostly came from my own observation, and from  overhearing coaches, parents, and fans talking at meets.

So there are college coaches who follow marks and performances. There are recruiting coordinators who use all means available to find new talent. There are college websites that give you access to the college coaches and recruiting coordinators. You’ve got word of mouth from high school and club coaches, and input from the occasional scout. With all of that available, there is no need for another website to gain visibility.

That said, there are some uses for it. Smaller college programs run on a smaller budget; they may only have one coach for everything, and thus have less time to scout for talent. Recruiting is a lot more difficult for those schools, so they would likely use a third-party website for recruiting. But in those cases, I would recommend going the direct route by contacting those coaches via mail or e-mail. Coaches at smaller programs ALWAYS take interested recruits seriously.

There is also the issue of athletes who might be better than their statistics indicate, such as the kids who are star athletes on really bad teams, or kids who play a position/sport where their talent needs to be observed in order to be fully appreciated. For them, it would be useful to develop a profile on a site where they can post videos and highlight reels.

So should you use that website? I guess it won’t hurt. But it probably won’t help much, either. In my experience, every athlete I’ve coached who got a scholarship or walked on at a program did so without any third-party recruiting websites. And I have never spoken to a college coach who has used one of those sites to locate talent.

Second Answer

In all fairness, a representative from beRecruited.com should be allowed to voice their response.

This is a response by Vishwas Prabhakara, CEO, beRecruited, a 6-person startup based in San Francisco.

When a student-athlete commits to a college, they often come back to beRecruited to tell us where they are going, and advice for other student athletes.

As we detailed in this blog post  the top two most important things in your recruiting process is to "start early" and "show you’re interested [to college coaches]".

To the extent a website can help you do that, you should use it.  Over 30,000 coaches have registered for beRecruited, and come back regularly to help them recruit.  Coaches usually won’t talk about services they use for recruiting, but the proof for beRecruited is in the usage and success.

We’ve made over 35 million connections between student athletes and college coaches.  Tens of thousands of student athletes have cited beRecruited as a primary way they started the recruiting process.

beRecruited has over 1,000,000 registered student athletes, and covers 31 collegiate sports, making it the nation’s largest online college athletics recruiting platform. By registering for a free basic profile, student athletes can create a digital résumé featuring their athletic and academic stats, videos and photos and connect with over 30,000 college coaches. beRecruited’s registered student athletes represent more than 80 percent of U.S. high schools.  In the past two years, beRecruited athletes committed to more than 2,000 NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA institutions and earned millions of dollars in scholarships and financial aid.

beRecruited was founded by Ryan Spoon, a collegiate swimmer for Duke University, who after going through the recruiting process himself, sought to create a resource for future collegiate athletes.

Here’s a recent article on CNN Sports Illustrated about coaches and student athletes that use beRecruited.

Note: this Q&A is from Quora.  Original thread here.

  • Jimson great article and this is my new line of work of helping HS athletes prepare themselves for college, and standout for the coaches. I have helped several local colleges with recruiting (3 mainly George Mason, VCU, and my alma mater JMU) and it has been on the guidelines you mention *College coaches also value word of mouth from other coaches.* I am not a fan of beRecruited but someone was smart and they have put a product for the parents who dont really know how to get their kids name out there. I just know from what college coaches tell me and from when I coached in college for 5yrs the “Big 3″ I wanted to know was 1. Grades 2. Work ethic 3. Athletic ability Great Post JIM our system will not improve until we work the youth as soon as they enter high school and teach & preach the “Big 3″