Being realistic in the athletic recruiting process and the importance of doing it yourself

It seems like there are always stories and interesting aspects that I hear about the athletic recruiting process that seem to go against what I talk about on this site.  While athletes and families choose to take whatever path that they think can help them get a scholarship and the opportunity to play college football, they may not always be taking the path that is advised. 

I recently had a chance to speak with a football recruit that has been hearing from Division III colleges in his area.  This athlete is a solid player who earned All Conference honors as a junior and could receive All State honors this fall as a senior.  He plays in one of the better conferences in his State but continues to only hear from Division III schools.  Because of the lack of interest, this athlete decided he wanted to hire an agent (basically a one man recruiting service) to help with him getting recruiting interest. 

The person that does this one man recruiting service talks a big game.  He works with a lot of athletes in the area and always brags about how he works with the best of the best.  The problem with that is every recruiting situation is different and not everyone has the ability that the Division I schools are looking for.  Anyways, even with the lack of attention that this recruit has been getting, the agent has been talking up a big game how he is talking to Division I schools in this state. 

Again, I always make sure to mention that it is very important to market yourself and get your name out there as much as possible.  But hiring someone that costs hundreds and likely thousands of dollars to call Division I schools (that are likely not listening, let me stress that) makes no sense to me.  If you are only getting Division III interest, is this guy going to magically turn you into a Division I player?  You are going from a level of no scholarships to the highest level of college football possible. 

The point I want to make when bringing up this story is that you have to be realistic during the recruiting process.  You may obviously think that you have Division I talent but when it comes down to it, how many athletes has your school sent to Division I schools?  Did you attend any camps in the summer to showcase your skills in front of college coaches?  How did they respond? 

I am all for making sure that college coaches are completely aware of you and your ability.  But one of the Division I schools is in the backyard of this athlete.  The college coaches have recruited this high school before and will continue to do so in the future.  Do you realistically think that wasting your money with this agent will suddenly prompt you to get a scholarship?  (Please let me note while I don’t exactly support full fledged recruiting services, I trust them much more than shady one man operations with lack of documentations about them). 

If you are handling the recruiting process yourself early on, I am all for marketing yourself to Division I colleges that you feel could be a potential good fit.  But realistically, you have to realize that trying to market yourself to these Division I schools will be tough.  At the very most, you have a long shot of possibly getting a walk on role (and that does depend on the school).  In the majority of situations, then you are wasting time trying to contact them. 

Again, this goes back to the amount of interest you have as a senior.  If you have Division I-A (BCS) attention at this point from a number of schools, then yes, broaden your search to all of the ones in your area.  If you are in California, look for all the west coast Division I-AA (FCS) schools that could possibly be a good fit for you in college. 

If you are a senior and all the attention you have been getting is Division III interest, there is probably a reason why.  It may be because you are too slow, too small, or don’t have the athleticism to play Division I.  If that is the case, your broadened search should be at Division II schools in your area that match what you are looking for.  And I can tell you to do that easily without charging the hundreds of dollars that this agent did.  I can predict this not working out and I am willing to bet on that. 

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