The goal of any coach at any level is to win games. No matter how much they want to develop the athletes and help them grow as people, the bottom line is that they have to win. This doesn’t matter if it is junior high to the major colleges. There is at least some pressure on every coach to win ball games.
But for recruits throughout the country, not everyone of them is on a winning team. The football recruit or basketball recruit may be the only one at their school that takes the sport serious and that hurts the team in the long run. So in the minds of college coaches, how much does the record of the team really matter when they are in the recruiting process?
The first thing I want to note about this is that all coaches would love to have players that they consider winners. What I mean by that is they want recruits who have spent their life winning. That winning mentality is a hard thing to teach. And when players have winning mentalities, it usually means that they are able to work hard to achieve their goals.
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But because of how recruiting works, not every recruit throughout the country will win a lot of ball games. For example, there was a running back a few years ago who had scholarship offers from schools like Wisconsin, Iowa, and many others before he committed to Nebraska. The record of his senior football team ended up being 0-9.
The reason that the team struggled so greatly is because they had one great player and many bad players. While he was a phenomenal athlete at running back, defensive back, punt returner, and kick returner, there were ten other teammates on the field who were not nearly as good as him. And in the end, he put up some big numbers but the team struggled mightily.
College coaches didn’t take much stock into the team record because they knew that the team had a history of struggling. This is another perfect example that college coaches do end up putting more stock on football recruits during the summer camps and basketball recruits during the AAU season. The regular season is fine and great but the place to earn a scholarship is during the summer. If you play well there, get an offer, and commit, then there will not be an much pressure on you as a senior.
What matters during the recruiting process is not the record of your team. You may play on a team that wins a State title and each player who goes on to the college level in that sport may not get a look above Division III. The college coaches are looking for players who have the ability to play at that level, not the ones that know how to win in high school.
But that isn’t the whole story. College coaches will get worried if a basketball player, for example, is not helping his team win games. Because there are just five players on the court at one time, a great basketball player sometimes has the ability to win games by himself. Although the opposition could throw junk defenses at them, college coaches will wonder about a recruit if they just can’t win games. While it won’t be a major factor in recruiting, it will make some coaches wonder.
The most important note about winning games is that it allows you to put yourself in front of college coaches. For example, I am willing to bet at just about every State basketball and football tournament in the country, college coaches from around the area make an appearance and watch the games. If your team is terrible and bows out early, you won’t get the chance to play there.
If you do get to play there, you are opening yourself up to a whole new world of college coaches. I have seen so many athletes raise their stock at the State tournament and heat up their recruiting. For the players sitting in the stands watching, they are missing out on a golden opportunity to showcase their skills in front of these coaches. But because they lost early, that opportunity is unfortunately not there.
The same can be said at AAU tournaments or 7-on-7 passing camps. The more games your team wins, the more games that they will get a chance to play. That also means the more games that college coaches have to view your team and watch you play. So really, the record of the team will not hurt you in recruiting. But the more your team wins, the more doors that may eventually up for you in the athletic recruiting process.