I have always stressed on here that one way to really help yourself in the athletic recruiting process is by taking care of your grades. Most coaches feel that the athletes with the best grades are usually the ones that they have to worry about the least in the classroom as well as away from the field or court on weekends. These are not the players coaches lose sleep over after big wins.
What made me really start thinking harder and harder about grades is a recent email I received from a parent. While I will not mention his name or the name of his son, he brought up some very excellent points regarding academics and the ability for an athlete to walk on. It may seem menial during the recruiting process but academics are even more important for walk ons than scholarship athletes.
With the addition of the Academic Progress Report (APR), college coaches have a lot riding on the amount of scholarship athletes that are passing classes and will graduate in their respective classes. The reason this APR was put in was to track the performance of these scholarship athletes in the classroom and penalize those schools who struggled to graduate players.
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While I feel there are some flaws in the system, it is a great way to make sure college coaches are not clearing house when they take over a new program. The more players leaving, the more their APR will be hurt. What is interesting is that some college coaches even have their APR score tied into their contract. The better the score, the more they are paid so it is serious business to these coaches.
Lets say that there are two players the college is looking at as a potential walk-on. Both athletes could earn a scholarship down the road and thus eventually be factored into the APR score. One athlete has a 2.5 GPA and scored a 20 on his ACT. The other has a 3.8 GPA and has a 28 on his ACT. If these players were even close to being equal talents, which one do you think the college coach would take with a walk on opportunity?
The exact same situation goes for scholarship athletes. When colleges have extremely low APR because of their problems, administrators at the school will not take that lightly. Low graduation rates and APR scores are a major reason why some college coaches will be on the hot seat more than others. These coaches need athletes who can perform as well as stay strong in the class room.
All schools will take chances with athletic recruits that they may consider game changers. It could be the 7-foot center in the basketball recruiting process or the defensive back who runs a 4.3 40-yard dash in the football recruiting process. Chances will be taken by coaches at all levels and basically all schools. But college coaches are smart enough to limit those chances on only a handful of players. If you get a lot of those questionable athletes and many don’t perform as expected, your APR could be severely hurt.
I have said this before but taking care of business in the classroom is a great way to be a step ahead of the competition during the athletic recruiting process. While it doesn’t mean an athletic scholarship will certainly be yours, it will give you the benefit of the doubt for a scholarship or even a walk on position. And if your goal is to play at a high level, even if it takes walking on, this is a great start.