The overall evaluation process for football scholarship offers from the eyes of college coaches

The evaluation process for football scholarship offers from the eyes of college coachesI can promise you that one of the most confusing parts of the football recruiting process is trying to figure out what coaches are thinking.  They may be saying one thing about how you need to keep working hard and having success on the field but how do you know what they really feel about you?  While that is nearly impossible to figure out, coaches have said before what they are looking for in a potential recruit for their college football team.

And when I find these types of articles, I think they are some of the most interest pieces that are written on the Internet.  Keep in mind that some of the things that the coaches will say are fluff.  They are saying them to be “politically correct.”  But for the most part, there is little doubt in my mind that what is said does have some meaning.  Here is what a Division I football coach said about what he looks for during the football recruiting process.

Really I did stumble upon this article (Click here for the entire article).  It was written in February of 2008 so it came out right after Signing Day 2008 occurred.  The Colorado Springs Gazette had a chance to speak with the football coaches from the Air Force Academy about what they look for in recruits.  Let me state for the record that Air Force has a much stingier application process so it is more difficult for them to get top tier athletes into the school.  These players are also making a commitment after college to serve.  Here are some things that really stood out to me throughout the article.

Air Force sends each recruit who meets minimum standards in those areas a questionnaire. For each questionnaire that is returned, Air Force sends an official letter to that player’s school requesting his transcript.

As I have always said in articles, there is no reason why you should not fill out a recruiting questionnaire.  The Air Force coaches have looked for athletes that fill certain requirements and that allows them to take the next step once the questionnaire is returned.  If it is not, then my guess is that the coaches look elsewhere.  Maybe you should keep that in mind when you throw out a questionnaire from a school you like.

If a player’s transcript shows he likely could handle the academy’s rigorous academics, coaches study film of the player. Recruiting coordinator Charlton Warren said he looks at “how big is he and how can he move” and bases his evaluation more on what he sees on the field than the raw recruiting numbers of 40-yard dash times, heights and weights. Warren also wants to see “the worst game” a recruit played to see how he reacts to adversity, while Calhoun said he looks for “the utmost of what he can do.”  “If he has flashes of acceleration and flashes of downhill speed, if I see that he will run and strike you on defense, or offensively up front where he’ll bend and move and put his hands on you… it tells me, yep, he’s capable,” Calhoun said. “Then it’s on us as coaches to completely draw it out of him, make it consistent.”

Initial tape review is done by the coach in charge of that area of the country. That coach ranks the player from 1 (not a player to follow) to 5 (worthy of an official visit and offer), and then passes the tape to the coach in charge of that player’s position. The position coach then gives his assessment.  For example, Warren is in charge of Georgia, and he might see a tight end he thinks is worthy of an official visit. But Ben Miller, Air Force’s tight ends coach, reviews all tight ends in the country and could disagree.

Regarding the worst game that a recruit played, few recruits will be honest and actually send it.  While it may be easy to figure out which one was the worst, unless the college coaches have tape from the entire junior year, I doubt many recruits want to send it.  And as I have said before, coaches are prone to disagreeing on recruiting evaluations.  It is their opinion and two coaches will differ in a number of situations.

Once coaches determine a recruit can make a difference on the field, coaches will visit his school in the spring of his junior year. If playing ability and academic standing are 1A and 1B in Air Force recruiting, character is 1C. On trips coaches will speak to counselors, teachers, coaches, assistant coaches, trainers and anyone else who can vouch for a recruit. They want to get a feel for whether the recruit could handle a service academy.

Like all good coaching staffs, they do a lot of background work to see what type of person they are recruiting.  Character is a huge flag that college may stay away from.  While athletes can prove that they made a mistake in the past, there are some coaches who want no part of character issues.

Air Force — like many schools around the nation — already has a bunch of verbal commitments prior to national signing day. On that day, most schools receive binding letters of intent. Air Force does not, because of its lengthy application and appointment process. The academy typically sends a certificate to its recruits so they have something to sign during ceremonies at their high schools. But it’s not binding. And that means until players officially get appointments and acceptance, Air Force coaches cross their fingers that a player does not decide to go elsewhere.  “You never know what school will come on a kid late,” Warren said.

Warren said he has a verbal commitment from “a really, really good player” and “I’ve got a great relationship with the kid and his family and his mom and he’s coming.” But he said a big-name school “could come steal him. And there’s nothing we can do about it.”

This is the same battle that the Ivy League is fighting.  It is always another reason why the bond between the player and the coaching staff is so important.  The more the player has committed to the coaching staff at Air Force, the better chance that he will turn down an offer to go there.

Again, this is definitely an interesting look at the football recruiting process and what it takes to get to a service academy.  Click here for the full article.

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