How independent football recruiting combines work and their process for finding “invited” athletes

I have talked at different times about my dislike for some recruiting services.  But with recruiting services, there are companies that do an excellent job and can help families in certain situations.  I will freely admit that if time for a family is limited, and they have the money, then it may be worth investing in hopes of getting some college interest. 

But one thing that I am completely against is independent football combines that charge substantial amounts of money.  I seem to bad mouth them every chance I get and for good reason.  So why the dislike for these football combines?  Let me count three ways…….

If there are combines that charge over $25, be wary (there are some solid ones worth attending for that low of a sum).  If they charge over $50, they are a rip off.  I always talk about how college camps are expensive but the good thing about these camps is that there are always numerous college coaches at all levels working the camp.  You may not be god enough for State University but Division II State University may end up loving you as a player and offering a full scholarship.  For college coaches, there is something to fall back onto if the host school does not feel you are good enough. 

For independent run combines, there is no host school and no fall back schools either.  The people that run the camp are basically taking a good chunk of change out of your pocket (or that of your parent) and running you through some rather mundane tests.  There may also be some 1-on-1 and things like that but what exactly do you think will be the outcome of this?  There are no college coaches in attendance.  The end result is that the person that runs the combine will likely email (to save money on postage) the results to college coaches.  You want to guess how many college coaches take these results seriously?

One camp that I received a question about recently is a very big named event.  Let me say that they do have some excellent coaches that will help you learn as a player.  But the price tag is $549 and the invite list is not all that prestigious.  I have heard players that are not all that good tell me they received an invite.  The ones with the money go and do it, but again, what will that end up leading to?  Outside of some good coaching, $549 is a lot of money. 

How they find their “invited” athletes
This one kills me.  I must stress that this realistically is what I was told from a combine director in a bigger state.  He said he hired students to go through all of the high school roster pages on Max Preps and pull the names of every single athlete who is listed and not a senior.  So when you receive that elite invite from this camp, think about that for a second.  They must have done a lot of evaluation, scouting, and and review to be able to invite you.  No, they actually just want to find someone with a credit card or check who is willing to pay them. 

The combine director will then send their “invited” athlete a post card (because it is cheaper) saying that they have identified you as a top prospect and they want you at their combine.  If they thought so much of you, then why are they wanting $100 for you to attend?  Some also hold “All Star” combine afterwards, but again, what is this going to lead to?

Misleading information
This one makes me sick.  There is one combine that lists all of the colleges that receive information from the combine and some talk about the ones that have attended in the past.  With NCAA rule changes over the last few years, college coaches can not be in attendance at these combines.  And for the ones that do receive the information at the end, how many Division I schools really sort through it and find a star studded recruit?  Chances are extremely slim.  As with a lot of recruiting information, it ends up in the deleted folder in Microsoft Outlook. 

Maybe I am being a little too critical of the camps but the main purpose is for the directors to make a large amount of money.  I may consider it unethical simply because they know they are “inviting” anyone with a pulse and a pay check, but they obviously don’t.  So when you get an invite to a combine that costs money, you might as well throw it away right away.  You are wasting the time you are taking to consider it. 

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