Dear Football Mom,
We are fast approaching spring practice at our high school and the annual spring game. Our coach tells us there could be a few college scouts that may attend. Our son will be a junior. Please tell me some tips for getting him noticed and ultimately recruited to play college football. What should he do to stand out?
I’m afraid that “tips” are just like the catch phrase, “farm to table” which was simply somebody’s quirky cliché for advertising purposes. Hasn’t all our food at some point comes from some farm, somewhere? It may have been processed to death, but by golly, it started out on a farm. “Tips” rings the same way. Magazines needed banner topics for different subjects so—presto—we have the word “tips.” Not trying to be a sassy-frass, but in football, there is no such thing as tips, unless that is, the ball got tipped on a field goal attempt. What I try to do is share information, pointers, and suggestions. I just really don’t have any tips, but I get what you mean, so let’s see if I can answer your question this way.
Every position in the game of football is different, and one size doesn’t fit all. That said there are some all-purpose pointers I’m happy to share. For the most part, there’s no magic formula, short cut, or equation to getting our sons noticed by college recruiters. The following includes a few suggestions for those guys of fall—well in this case, spring. It is up to your son however, to execute with as much excellence as he can muster.
Honestly, first and foremost, he’s got to play his heart out for his team. Period. Practice like he plays in a game. Stay diligent.
Be coachable. Attitude goes a long way. If he works hard and listens to his coach, that will pay dividends at the end of the day. Remember, his coach has relationships with college recruiters, college recruiters talk to high school coaches, and his coach will share with these cats information not only about his talent, but also on his coachability.
Be the guy who loves to compete. Leading his team to winning seasons is a plus. Like it or not, recruiters tend to show up more frequently at winning teams. It may not sound fair, but for college recruiters, time is money. They don’t have time to drive all over kingdom come for a “maybe” on losing teams. Coaches know teams that win, have at least a couple of competitors embedded within their team. College coaches always look for competitors.
Keep his nose clean. You can take that figuratively and literally. The last thing coaches need on campus are new recruits who have to be baby-sat. You might possess all the talent, break records right and left, but if you are a troublemaker—trust me, they will pass. You might qualify for D-IAA or D-II, but if you are a rebel-rouser, your chances for D-IA just left the stadium. College coaches don’t have time to waste on fools and scallywags.
Keep your grades up. Coaches are just as interested in your GPA as they are your time in the 40. I suggest taking the SAT or ACT in your sophomore or junior year. That way you can enjoy your senior year more and focus on your team (provided you met the college requirement scores). I would not waste money on the PSATs because they don’t count anyway. Nowadays, you can find several tutorials online that help students get up to speed and practice for these tests.
Naturally, the obvious—work out till the cows come home. Work hard to improve in everything, every aspect, every area. Increase your time in the 40 (yes even you offensive linemen). Get with your position coach and ask him some suggestions on what you can improve on. There is no such thing as not improving. You can always improve in something. Who says you can’t practice position reps at home?
To really stand out, leadership is key. Unselfish leadership is The Holy Grail. Getting teammates pumped up for games and practice, or helping other players with his position or stance or hundreds of other acts of unselfish leadership will put him ahead of any competition. He can’t be a casual bystander. He has to lead intentionally.
Hope this helped and that your son finds himself one day with several D-IA offers, which involves a whole other set of suggestions. Best wishes and shine-on.
Footnote: This is my last column until after July 4th. In the meantime, y’all have some awesome spring practices and keep the questions and comments coming … Candy@CandyAWestbrook.com please put “football question” in subject line. I promise to answer all in a few short months and as always, keep them confidential. Gooooo Football Moms!!!