October 2, 2009 • Athletic Administration

Help with the Recruiting Process

PRINT EMAIL Perhaps due to the escalating costs of a college education or simply a desire to help their child, more parents than ever are seeking help with the college athletic recruiting process.

While the high school coach should continue to play an integral role in the situation, he or she can inform the schools of the availability of the recruiting service.

Parents have to be advised that a fee may be involved in the deal. Some of these services charge the family to compile and distribute information, a profile, and perhaps a video of the athlete to the colleges. Others pass along the expense to the colleges who subscribe to their service.

As with any commodity or purchase, mom and dad or the high school coach should thoroughly investigate what is included, what steps have to be taken, and the expense involved.

Football coaches, on the other hand, may take a bit of control to conduct combines that will provide useful data for college coaches. In Maryland, for example, the Maryland Football Coaches Association hosts an annual combine, which has been held at the U. of Maryland. In other states, the process is much the same with coaches’ association hosts on a college campus.

At the combine, high school coaches will test and measure several football skills. With the data collected, the players will then be ranked by position and compared to players already on a college’s squad. This comparative information can be a fairly good predictor of success on the next level for these high school athletes. What is tested?

Even though there may not be national standardization of the tests, a combine will typically feature the following:

  • 40-Yard Dash.
  • NFL Agility Drill, a solid predictor of quickness.
  • Bench press – an athlete will lift 185 pounds as many times as he can.
  • Vertical jump.

The combine will usually take place late in the spring for junior players. Obviously, this approach will assure the data of being available prior to the athlete’s senior year.

A friend and former football coach informed us that hand-timed and measured tests at a combine are not always totally accurate. Maybe not intentionally, but a coach’s thumb on a stopwatch might be a littler quicker for one of his players. In spite of the possible human error, the combine does provide football players with helpful information for college coaches.

It should also be mentioned that these tests only measure athletic skills. They do not measure heart, work ethic, leadership, desire, and other intangibles that go into the making of an athlete. A college coach will also want to see the athlete in action in person or on a tape in order to also judge his ability to play at a particular level.

A takeoff of this football combine approach was found at an area high school last spring. They hosted a combine that was conducted by Recruits Unlimited.com. With their approach, infrared sensor equipment replaced the hand-held stopwatches for the 10 and 40 yard Dashes and the Pro Agility Test.

Unlike the combine conducted by the state coaches, the athletes can choose three different weights to be tested on the bench press by Recruits Unlimited. The weights used are 150, 185 or 225 pounds but the goal is still performing as many lifts as possible. Both the weight and the number of repetitions are recorded.

The ultimate goal with Recruits Unlimited was to have more validity with the test results and also provide a means for standardization across the country. For a fee, athletes are offered an opportunity to purchase a Player Profile to highlight his information for college coaches.

Another company, Athletic IQ, takes the testing approach a step farther. They will test all athletes, not just football players. Yes, tennis players, cross-country runners, and volleyball players will also be able to be tested.

With these various test results in a data bank for each sport, athletes can be compared to other high school athletes and also with the norms established for collegiate athletes at the various levels of competition.

This will provide a very helpful and practical method of ranking of athletes regionally and nationwide.

The AIQ circuit of tests will include seven stations:

1. Body Composition, which will include height, weight, and body fat percentage.

2. Flexibility measured by an electronic “sit and reach” box.

3. Speed electronically timed for splits at 0-10 and 10-20 meters.

4. Upper Body Power determined electronically with a 16-pound medicine ball and measurement plate.

5. Lower Body Power or vertical leap.

6. Agility measured with timing beams.

7. Reaction Time / Eye-Hand Coordination taken on a personal computer.

In essence, this approach could become the equivalent of the SAT’s on the athletic side of the educational spectrum. Like SAT’s, an athlete can retake the set of tests and achieve better scores for a colleges to consider.

However, AIQ will not promote or represent individual athletes in the recruiting process. They only provide comparative data, which is again very much in line with what the SAT’s do.

AIQ member colleges will have the opportunity to identify student athletes through specified online search criteria, streamlining the process and saving on their recruiting budgets.

Unlike the academic testing, AIQ will return a portion of the proceeds to the state athletic associations and pay the host schools and their coaches for helping as test centers. This revenue sharing program puts much needed funds back into high school athletics.

While costs may be associated with these various approaches, they may be helpful to the beleaguered parents in search of the elusive athletic scholarship. More importantly, these services may enable the student-athlete to find the college program for which they are best suited-and this will mean success for all involved!

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