by Ellen Sawin, NCSA Athletic Recruiting
This mantra seems to be taking over the world of collegiate athletics.
Many coaches from the nation’s top teams have started offering scholarships to athletes who haven’t even started high school yet. Just this past summer, LSU offered a scholarship to Dylan Moses, a football player who hadn’t even started the 8th grade. As the best Division I programs begin offering scholarships to middle school athletes, coaches at other levels will no doubt feel the need to follow suit and start offering their recruits at earlier times, as well.
With the advanced recruiting timeline, coaches will be scouting and communicating with more players all at once than they have in the past. After all, coaches can’t simply ignore the athletes that have given verbal commitments, no matter what their age is. Working with more student-athletes at a time, requires more time and money from teams. And as many schools have tighter recruiting budgets than 5 years ago, this presents a serious problem. So, how can motivated, competitive college coaches recruit more athletes, at younger ages, without breaking your bank (or the rules)? Here are several ideas we see working for coaches around the country:
Expand your network. Coaches are in need of new ways to communicate with a lot of athletes, especially if they are prospects who might be game-changers for their programs. As the recruiting game changes, so must your strategy. Many coaching staffs are turning to online recruiting sources, such as NCSA Athletic Recruiting. Nationally, in fact, over 25% of college coaching staffs are already using the free network on a regular basis. It allows coaches to expand their network and recruit qualified athletes without leaving their office or dipping into their recruiting budget.
Start earlier. Whether you’re a coach at the helm of early recruiting who’s looking for film on eighth graders, you’re on the slower end of things and just need to know what players are still available going into their senior year, or if you’re somewhere in the middle, an earlier recruiting timeline means change; changes in not only who you recruit, but how you recruit.
Be regular communicators. For all levels, consistently communicating with prospective recruits is critical. Although this isn’t news, the amount of athletes you’ll be talking to at one time now is. Mass emailing student-athletes is becoming necessary with more recruits on your radar at a time. Finding athletes before your competition does is important. You need to be able to scout the whole nation now more than ever. Tracking recruits’ progress, and seeing how and even if they’re improving, is becoming more important as well. As is comparing their abilities to up and coming talent, the late-bloomers. Another set of experienced eyes would be more than beneficial in this aspect. NCSA offers all of this to coaches and more to help them in the recruiting race – all at zero cost to recruiters.
What athletes you decide to offer scholarships to and at what age, is completely up to you. You can choose to handle the earlier timeline in many different ways, but the key is, you don’t want to lose out on a recruit simply because you weren’t aware of their talent, or you lost contact with them. All of that can be remedied by expanding your network of eligible recruits – and then communicating with them on a regular basis.
NCSA Athletic Recruiting serves thousands of coaches every year, assisting them in expanding their recruiting network and making it easy to make contact with interested recruits. Most coaches use this free resource, but if you are a coach who is new to this fantastic organization – and are looking to recruiting differently this next season – click here to get started.