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West Valley City Journal

How does athletic recruiting work?

Nov 12, 2019 03:29PM ● By Greg James

Noah Togiai, a Hunter High School alum, is a senior at Oregon State University. His recruiting days included calls from coaches from all parts of the country, but for most high school athletes it is not that way. (photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

By Greg James |  [email protected] 

Tyton Nielson is an eighth grade basketball player at Jefferson Junior High. He and his family have already started preparing him for his college recruiting experience.

“It is a lot of work,” Alesha Nielson said. “There is a lot that I didn't even know I needed to do. We have been fortunate with having good coaches that have helped us along this path, and they encouraged us to get started now. I read an article that talked about all of the things you should do to promote your child to college coaches.”

 Athletic ability plays an enormous role in getting a scholarship, but as parents learned at recruiting seminar held at Hunter High School Oct. 8, there is a lot more to it than that.

“I had a top volleyball player in California,” director of regional recruiting for NCSA (next college student athlete) Paul Putman said. “She had taken college courses. I think she had a two-year associates degree in her back pocket. When she registered with the NCAA for eligibility, she found out she was an academic non-qualifier. She had not taken the correct core classes before her senior year.”

According to less than 1% of students receive a full athletic scholarship. Many schools have the ability to give out partial scholarships and help the students academically qualify for other scholarships or grants.

“There are tons of opportunities out there,” Putnam said. “If you are a football player, your DNA needs to match up with what that coach wants. Anything outside of D1 (top colleges) is equivalent. The coaches will find FASFA, grants and academic money to help them come to school. An ACT test score going from a 21 to say a 26 could mean upwards of $5,000 a year. A coach can build you a financial package with that.” 

Recruiting profiles available to college coaches can help get the student’s list of abilities.

“A profile is like a resume; a track coach is going to look for certain times, and a football coach may want size,” Putnam said. “It helps them push you resume along the process.” 

Britain Covey, wide receiver at the University of Utah, was a top-level high school quarterback, but he did not fit the profile that many coaches were expecting for that position. He transformed himself into a slot receiver.

“Every sport has room for recruiting,” Putnam said. “Womens golf is a great example. There are a lot of scholarships that go unclaimed in that sport. Womens wrestling is one the is growing, but every sport can benefit from this message.” 

The message to the parents resonates a change.

“Every time a parent comes up to me and says, ‘I did not realize that,’” Putnam said. “We need to go talk to our counselor and make sure we are on track. Parents always say they thought our coach was supposed to do more for us, but it is not the coach's job. The coach should teach the game. Make sure you are having fun, and hopefully win a few games. He or she is to be responsible for your kids' future.”

Hunter High School is one of many schools to host recruiting seminars. The NCSA helps athletes in the process of recruiting. A top-level player will typically have an offer after his or her sophomore season. The NCSA suggests athletes begin at age 13 to make sure they are on track. Many recruiting profiles have a timeline of when and what to do.

“Our coaches help with what they can,” Hunter athletic director Pam Olsen said. “Players have access to these profiles for free. We try to help them send out marketing, and if a college contacts us, we try to make it important, but the parents need to be more involved. I really like the analogy that your GPA is a college bank account. If it drops you have taken out a withdrawal.”

The University of Utah football team will offer 25 scholarships each year. At the beginning of a high school athletes sophomore season the coaches will have evaluated about 2,000 athletes in that grade for those scholarships. They will offer those limited scholarships to approximately 200 players.

“The reason they offer so many kids those scholarships is because some will choose other schools, some kids get hurt, this kid posts stupid things on social media, and finally, some become academically ineligible,” Putnam said. “As signing day approaches, 25 are going to get the letter of intent to sign. The rest will get a letter that says sorry.” 

Most of all recruiters want you to know is to be educated and take control of your own future. For more information, contact your high school’s guidance counselor.