Dan Tudor

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July 16th, 2012

3 Keys to Effectively Handling Your “B” Recruits

Much of a coaching staff’s attention is centered around bringing in as many top caliber “A” recruits as possible.

It’s the “A” recruits that grab headlines.

It’s the “A” recruits that propel a team to win championships.

It’s the “A” recruits that make it fun to be a college coach.

But we all know who really makes up most of a typical college team roster: The “B” recruits.

They’re solid, but not superstars.  And interestingly, as we’ve studied and tracked the recruiting process with this group of prospects, they have a very unique way of approaching the coaches who are pursuing them, and make their decisions much differently than your “A” recruits will.  Of course, each individual recruit will be a little different than the next, but there are some keys that we see being essential for coaches to keep in mind as they develop their own individual strategies for securing this important group of recruits:

  1. Your “B” recruits are hyper-aware of how you’re treating them. Why?  Because most of these “B” prospects know that they’re in the second tier of the prospects you’re considering.  They’ll try to fake it, but instinctively most of them know that they aren’t in your top group.  Because of these facts, they are always looking for a change in your tone, your language and the level of attention you’re giving them.  I’m not saying you need to accommodate that hyper-sensitivity; rather, be aware of it.  And if you find a recruit who you are ready to move on, just be aware that they’ll usually respond faster and more enthusiastically than your “A” recruits will.
  2. Your “B” recruits will usually make commitments more quickly. Not exactly earth-shaking news, right?  In fact, for many coaches, this is what drives them crazy about this group of recruits.  Sometimes, they’ll press you for a decision much sooner than you’d like, and (because of that hyper-sensitivity that we just talked about) they’ll be looking for the security of a decision as soon as possible.  The mistake I see many coaches make?  They don’t balance their pursuit of their “A” recruits with a steady stream of solidifying their “B” class.  That’s why you’ll see a healthy amount of programs end up with lackluster recruiting classes…too many swings for the fences, not enough stand-up doubles.  What we see effective coaching staffs do is find a balance that works for them based on previous recruiting classes, and the patterns of signings that have made up those classes.  That’s not always possible, of course, but if you have a “prototype” class that you’ve recruited to your program, look at the breakdown of the “A” and “B” recruits and create a game plan for this next class.
  3. Your “B” recruits will change direction quickly and without warning. One of the things that we prompt our clients to protect themselves against is the idea that their positive conversations with their “B” recruits means that they can hold off on moving towards a decision with them indefinitely.  Because of the earlier points that we made – their sensitivity to how you’re treating them and their inclination to make decisions more quickly than your “A” recruits –  we find that they are more quickly to change their allegiances at the drop of a hat.  This factor is probably responsible for more lost “B” prospects than any other: A coach is having great conversations with a recruit, doesn’t move the recruiting process forward, and is surprised when that recruit suddenly commits to another program.  This fact is a two edged sword: On the one hand, you need to be on the look-out to protect your standing with that recruit, but it also gives you a chance to come in late with “B” prospects that other coaches aren’t effectively shepherding through the process.  Whatever the case, you need to make sure that you take into account this big factor in the personalities of these “B” recruits.

Great college recruiters look at their entire recruiting plan, and make sure they are managing their entire prospect list from start to finish.  While your “A” list recruits are without a doubt must-have incoming athletes that will make you or break you, a healthy foundation of those “B” recruits will probably determine your long term success as a coach.  Your “B” prospects are greater in numbers, and usually include the difference makers that you need to enjoy long-term success.

Mapping out an effective recruiting plan isn’t easy.  It’s even harder if you don’t have the research and team of experts in your corner helping to guide you through the process behind the scenes.  Want help with your next recruiting class?  Get in touch with Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com and ask him to tell you how we work one-on-one with college programs around the country.

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