Here's a little brainstorm I did last year or the year before that. Someone requested that I re-post it. Input welcome. I'd love to perfect it...
I'm not sure how well people understand the recruiting process...how student athletes come to be on the radar of four-year programs.
1. Some if not most first hit the radar of four-year schools (D1, 1AA, D2...) while they're in high school. Obviously, a lot of young men move on to a four-year right out of HS while others - because of grades or being overlooked for a WIDE variety of reasons - end up at community college. Reasons for being overlooked include: too high academic risk, didn't start playing football until junior or senior year, geographic location of the school, multiple transfers during HS years, physically undeveloped (late bloomer), etc.
2. JC coaches recruit kids from their districts to their teams and others from here, there, and everywhere (i.e., Florida, Georgia, Maryland, etc.) find their way onto a JC roster.
3. Some young men end up gray or redshirting their first years. Great option. Especially if the young man needs to take any remedial courses due to a learning disability or classroom hiccups during HS. An example of this would be Jeremiah Masoli, now a starting QB at Oregon, who grayshirted then played one season at CCSF. He was a full academic qualifier by the way.
4. It's very difficult anymore for a non-qualifier to graduate with enough 'D1 transferable' credits in just two years at a community college. If the student athlete has any remedial courses to take, then those eat into the time he'd otherwise be taking required classes...English, Math, Science...
5. Four-year coaches begin looking at transcripts of kids they might be interested early on. Freshman year. They may know of a young man who might fit their needs a year forward but if the transcript is iffy...as of say....spring of the kid's freshman year....then that gets noted.
*NOTE - Monitoring of transcripts is a continuous process by the four-year coaches. They are able to identify early on those kids who they think are too big a risk and drop those kids from their recruiting list or at least push them down the list*
6. Four-year coaches - all levels - are on the road watching JC and HS games and attending practices in the fall and in the spring. They only have a certain number of times they're allowed to evaluate student athletes in each eval period. They try to pick and choose a little bit where they're going to go. For instance, a coach flying out to northern Cal from say Texas or West Virginia, can't possibly see every school. So they decide that they'll hit a bunch of schools, maybe 8-10, in a certain area. Plus, of course, they might hit a couple of high schools.
Depending on how the four-year has broken up recruiting responsibilities among its coaches, the visiting coach may visit 8-10 schools in the Bay Area (w/no time to drive up to Weed, go out to Los Medanos, etc.)...then drive down through the Valley and hit Reedley, Fresno, etc....on way to SoCal for more evaluations. Again...pretty much impossible to visit all the schools.
Most four-year coaches are getting an idea where to go visit using lists they've obtained from various sources. They're not 'totally blind' when they hit the road (generally speaking). It depends a little bit.
7. How do four-year schools figure out who's out there? How do they find out about kids they might want to recruit?
a. Back to the first point...some young men are on the radar beginning in high school. A coach might have been tracking a young defensive tackle...he knows that tackle didn't qualify and went JC...so they keep on tracking the young man.
b. Some of the very best prospects are bouncebacks from D1 or 1AA programs (or D2). These are young men who signed with (scholarship) a four-year school out of HS and actually attended & maybe played for the team. Or they might have redshirted. So you make the assumption, somewhat logically, that these athletes have some talent. Some bouncebacks were at a four-year school but not on scholarship. They were walk-ons. - why do they bounceback? Maybe there was a coaching change...they saw that they were able to compete at that level but were buried on the depth chart...flunked out...maybe he was at a D2 school but really thought that attending a JC would lead to a D1 opportunity. Lots of reasons kids bounce back.
So four-year colleges find out about these guys.
c. Every year in March or April, most JC coaches compile a list of recruitable student athletes for that year. That list, at a minimum, includes names, uniform number, years of eligibility left, maybe some basic academic info, position, and probably contact info. Some coaches include names and info for kids who are freshman but recruitable because they were qualifiers ... basically, the list has names of all the guys who can *probably* leave by December or May.
So the first list in spring gets faxed and emailed out to everyone...D2, NAIA, 1AA (or whatever it's called now), D1.
If the list gets sent out responsibly, i.e. by mid-April, then four-year guys can USE the list to determine if there are any kids on it they might want to see. That is...See during the evaluation period which begins typically mid-April and ends around Memorial Day.
Unfortunately, there are programs whose coaches don't finish putting together their prospect sheet before four-year guys hit the road. If no list, then they might not have a reason to visit those schools or if they visit they're coming in pretty much blind.
**HERE'S A QUICK NOTE - Four-year programs mail out surveys to high schools and JCs in an effort to collect information. A lot of the surveys get filled out and sent back...or not.**
d. JC coaches aren't the only ones putting together lists and sending them out. Rivals and Scout and similar outfits do the same. I do it too. So four-year programs who subscribe to these outfits learn about or learn more about prospects using these third-party resources.
And one last point ... coaches are a tight little fraternity. A current OC at a D1 program may have started off at a NorCal JC...then he becomes a grad assistant at a 1AA...then a position coach at a D1...then he keeps moving up. Over the oh so many years he makes a lot of friends. He maintains friendships ... a NETWORK ... and he uses that network all the time, every year, to find out the 'scoop.' The best coaches can get on the horn any time and find out things..."Hey, what's up bud? I need a JUCO WR...a tall fast kid...who do you know who might fit the bill? Anyone you played in fall really stand out?"
These guys, using their network of friends, get tips from buddies in addition to having myriad other info resources as mentioned above. This is how, in part, schools learn of freshman qualifiers who might have been HELD OFF the radar intentionally. SO...the point is that the best recruiters at the four-year level build up and maintain a big network of coaching buddies, and they use that network to find what they're looking for.
e. So with lists in hand and kernels of info gleaned from sources of all kinds... in mid-April through May...four-year coaches (all levels) are on the road. The coach visiting from say, Texas A&M, will pop into CCSF's football offices...and he says hello to his buddies, whom he knows from years of interaction, coaching clinics, and so forth. (THERE'S DEFINITELY A NETWORK...COACHES HAVE THEIR PALS IN THE BUSINESS...PEOPLE THEY KNOW AND TRUST AND GO TO EVERY YEAR)
While on campus they get a list from the JC...they tell the JC coach what positions they're looking to possibly fill from JC ranks NEXT DEC OR SPRING (8-12 months hence)...and then they might watch some film together at the JC offices. They also might watch practice for a few minutes before jetting off to two or three other schools.
**ANOTHER NOTE TO SLIP IN - From the previous season there are all-conference lists to reference as well as statistical information. Who are the freshmen who made an impact?**
f. Spring eval period ends and the four-year guys, all levels, have gone around and seen a lot of kids. They meet as a staff and refine their recruiting list for the fall. They work to determine if they're going to really take any JC kids at all...and if yes...then at which positions. A D1 program will sign between 0 and more than 10 JC guys. The latter is really unusual. It's more typical that a D1 might sign 1 or 3 from the JC ranks.
THE POSITIONS OF GREATEST NEED ARE TYPICALLY CB, OL, INTERIOR DL AND DE.
In most years we see up to 10 JC quarterbacks get D1 scholarships...and there are more than 140 JC programs nationwide. That number could be considerably lower some years.
A handful of JC RBs get D1 scholarships. It's not all that dissimilar to the QB number.
Offensive tackles are hot. Corners who are taller than 5-11 are hot. Interior DLs,...the very best safeties and OLBs...playmaking WRs (not as much opportunity for the 'slot' guys)
The point here is that D1 programs ESPECIALLY are very selective about their recruiting from JCs. In any given year there are far more young men who COULD play D1 ball who end up with 1AA and D2 programs SIMPLY BECAUSE THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH D1 OFFERS TO GO AROUND.
Every single D1 and 1AA program builds the foundation of their program with high school athletes. I won't necessarily make that statement about all D2s.
I mentioned those positions of 'greatest need' above. Obviously, there are some scholarship slots for ILB/MLB, safeties, punters/kickers, snappers, and so on. But it's a tougher road to a scholarship unless you're really, really good and have the grades/transferable courses.
g. So now it's August!
Everyone's getting back to work, preparing for fall.
The four-year guys are in their camps and also talking recruiting. They'll be hitting the road and starting to show love to those kids they really want to recruit in the fall. From spring they know what's what and now it's time to further evaluate.
Meanwhile, the JC coaches are getting their kids enrolled in football class for fall.
NOTE - ROSTERS IN CALIF CAN CHANGE 40-60% FROM SPRING TO FALL.
Typically, some guys will have basically quit or transferred, flunked out, ... rosters change over. Some bouncebacks will have made their decisions and enrolled. ROSTERS ARE SET!
Now ... again ... the good JC coach will update his Prospect List with new phone numbers, new names, and all that info about his recruitable athletes 1) sophomores and 2) freshmen who can transfer out early and 3) bouncebacks who most often have to get an AA and can leave by spring
Time to fax and email those lists out again. And...have them ready to print and hand out to four-year coaches who start coming through soon.
h. Rivals, JCFootball.com, ESPN...they're all running stories on 'top guys.' BELIEVE IT...four-year coaches of all levels monitor and read those stories religiously.
**NOTE - Resources are limited at four-year schools. The staff at any given school cannot possibly know about and monitor every kid - HS and JC! Their inboxes are filled with emails; they have mail bins full of DVDs; their are thousands of people sending in 'stuff.'**
Again, most D1 programs are only targeting one to three positions to fill with JC guys. And the best programs in BCS conferences ... they will only take JC guys who are top-flight ... low risk in every way. In other words: December grad (best), Ultra talented, fits the scheme (hopefully), likely to gain admission, of high character.
Obviously, any school at any level is looking for the same qualities; it's just that much more stringent when you're talking about Florida, Oklahoma, USC, and schools of that nature.
i. The four-year coaches are on the road. A coach flies out from Ohio and visits are many JC programs as he can during a two- or three-day visit to northern Calif. This time, he's maybe a bit or a lot more targeted in which schools he's visiting. He now knows that his school IS ONLY GOING TO SIGN A JC TE AND A CORNER (MAYBE). And he knows of some guys he wants to see.
After all, from all this research since the previous year and in spring, he knows there are only about 8 possible D1 tight ends in Calif. So he can be more targeted in his recruiting stops.
A coach might go see three JC games on a Saturday. he might go watch half a game at CCSF (and see two teams), then go to another half close by (two more teams)...then go see a night game or two.
j. The four-year coach goes back and he's now really contacting the kids he likes and may want to get out for an official campus visit.
k. Kids who will be graduating in December are the first to get scholarship offers and set up official visits. In Calif., during the bye week, a lot of guys head out on official visits.
December grads can sign beginning in mid-December for a couple of weeks.
Four-year schools on a quarter system start classes on the Monday after New Years while semester schools get going later in January. So those December guys...if their top school choice is a quarter system program, then you have to be ready to go by that first week in January. If not, then you're either waiting until spring or signing elsewhere.
Or you could - with quarter system programs - sign in March and still be ready for spring ball there.
l. Early signing now done...the four-year schools are now left with the group of JC guys who won't graduate until May or June or later.
Typically, I think it's fair to say, these guys are the highest academic risk. Will they actually graduate in May? I could sign a few of these guys and they might not get that math and/or English taken care of ... leaving me waiting for them right up until fall camp begins...Hmmmm.
Tough choices now for these four-year coaches. Should they just go on high school guys instead?
*NOTE - There are always a bunch of 'December grads* signed by D1s in December who don't gain entrance. The reasons are varied: 1) the school's admissions department wouldn't transfer enough credits, 2) the student athlete flunked or dropped a required class in the fall ... very common*
Meanwhile, some of the high schools targets choose other options ... so that D1 program or 1AA now has a 'scholarship open' and could opt for the JC guy. Now they're left digging around for the top uncommitted, unsigned guys at whatever position(s) they've targeted for JC guys.
Signing day in February comes and goes...Boom...that first week after signing day a flood of NAIA and D2 coaches are in California...they're competing hard core for the guys who were left 'out in the cold' with now D1 offers. These D2 and NAIA guys are dealing with the broken hearts.
Of course, a few D1 and 1AA programs still have holes to fill as well. Maybe they didn't get that high school kid they thought they'd get...
The next big D1/1AA 'signing period' if you will is in April / May. After spring ball or during spring ball, several D1 programs realize that they've got needs. Kids transfer, get hurt in spring ball, ... maybe the kid they thought would be a decent punter is just horrible ... for a variety of reasons, needs arise.
This means that a bunch of unsigned sophomores, and perhaps a few freshman qualifiers with another year of JC eligibility, will sign and leave once they're able (i.e., graduate with an AA).
A big thing there: TRANSCRIPTS
the evaluation of fall transcripts and academic progress in spring is intense. Of these 'unsigned' sophomores and perhaps the freshman who MIGHT be able to get his AA...who can really gain admission? Can Fs from the fall be turned into at least Cs or Bs? Can the young man really pass a required math or English class?
Spring sees several more JC QBs get scholarships, long-snappers, kickers and punters...the best remaining guys at various positions...get scholarships from D1 and 1AA programs.
MEANWHILE...NAIA, D2, AND D3 PROGRAMS ARE HARD AFTER IT...SIGNING GUYS ALL THE WAY INTO AUGUST TO PARTIAL OR FULL-SCHOLARSHIPS...
And the cycle continues...
Now I want to mention something else. FILM
Four-year schools do their evals through film and in-person visits (practices, games)
A lot of what a JC coach does is create film cut-ups and mail out film to four-year programs. The number of requests for film is RIDICULOUS.
Every level of school is inquiring for film.
Guess what? In Calif. there's basically no such thing as a 'full-time JC football coach.' It's a lot of guys who have full-time jobs who essentially donate their free time to coaching. A handful of schools have a few guys on campus who have other jobs: teaching, counseling, whatever.
It takes a lot of time to handle all the tasks from fundraising to football classes, to putting together 'prospect lists' to meeting with four-year coaches.
THEN THERE'S THE FILM, FILM, FILM THING
Nowadays, you're inundated with requests for film (as always) but the Internet has made it easier to make film available. YouTube and the like are great places for coaches to post film. And via those places you also - if you're smart - cross-promote your social networking tools...
(yeah...even more things for four-year coaches to monitor!!!)
So my point about film is that it's scarce. It's especially scarce for the smaller colleges (D2, NAIA).
Think of the time and money it takes to create DVDs and then mail them out. Dozens if not hundreds of requests for film.
Fortunately, there are film services that aggregate film ... and four-year schools subscribe to these aggegator/film services. But ultimately, there are holes that don't get filled or get filled too late.
and, unfortunately, some schools provide film that's so bad (poor quality) that it's useless for evaluation purposes. i.e., too dark (this is a common problem)
I'll summarize all this with a couple of other things that come to mind.
I hear from four-year coaches, periodically, that they won't recruit out of or visit certain schools because 'the academic side of things is so bad there...it's a joke.'
"None of those kids can graduate. I won't waste my time with (school name here)."
Some JC programs have developed sound reputations for their academic support and academic counseling/advising.
Further, some programs do a far superior job of pulling out all the stops to promote their guys, make film available via many different outlets, to social network (really gaining steam now!), and so forth.
While I congratulate those JC coaches who go the extra mile I find it hard to pass judgment against those programs who struggle. Like I mentioned above, there are the haves and the have-nots...and that applies to every level by the way. One school might have more coaches on campus more of the time than its next door neighbor - who might not have even a single coach on campus full-time.
take from this what you will
1. Understand that your coach(es) are working hard 2. Understand the recruiting process 3. Understand that D1 and 1AA opportunities are limited 4. Understand that if you do poorly in school that opportunities are even more limited. Far more limited. 5. Understand that film is hard to come by. Do what you can to help...you need film and good film. 6. The game's not up for a sophomore until late-July. Some number of schools keep recruiting through then. 7. Since #3 applies don't rule out or blow opportunities with D2 and NAIA. 8. Since #4 really applies, DO take advantage of every opportunity get get proper, trusted academic advising. Get second and third opinions about which classes to take and DON'T flunk classes in the fall. 9. Since #3 and #8 are so important (!) do suck it up and pound out any required math, English, science, foreign language needed to get into a D1/1AA school - do it early. Idenfity where you know you struggle and tackle those areas hard core. (or risk seeing your D1 dreams dissolve away...) 10. Understand that you need your coach ON YOUR SIDE. If you burn bridges, then you're going to have a hard time getting that scholarship you want. Mend fences.
Kevin . . . What this really shows is that the recruiting process is way over our heads as bloggers . . . There is much sophistication, detail, and investment into these player decisions. . . Your post humbles my knowledge of the recruiting game . . . The fun part is watching the offers our players receive, and then moving on to the next level . . .
Kevin, this is really exceptional work --in the business community, consultants who generate briefings like this receive $ubstantial fees and earn six figure salaries with bonuses.
One recurring point of view kept coming to me --the critical ( yet often overlooked) role of academic standing. It seems the community colleges can do a much better job in supporting athletes and their coaches, if they simply dedicate consistent faculty oversight to the process. Using other students (or community members) as mentors would also make a major difference.
Have any of you seen the famous film "Stand and Deliver", about calculus in one LA HS? or followed Bob Moses Algebra project in Mississippi? the point is, many student athletes will qualify if some regular outreach effort is made on their behalf. Coaches have way too much going on to do this. The schools can do much more in support of their programs by reaching out and ensuring major efforts are in place to support both athletic and academic success. Imagine if schools were supporting consistent effort at GPA as well as 40 times?
Kevin...... pretty much sums up the recruiting process. One area that players can utilize more is an area recruiting service that will put film together and that has 4 year schools that use their services.............
As a CC academic counselor, I can chime in on the academic component . . . Some CC's already have faculty involved with advisement using funds from basic skills offered to campuses from the chancellor's office . . . Some are called faculty advisors, discipline advisors or academic advisors depending on the campus . . . I would suggest an academic counselor assigned to the athletic department along with a supportive tutoring component . . . At a previous campus I spent fourteen years at, I had an outstanding football coach who implemented the following academic program that players chose from . . . Level One, a player only wanted to play football and stay eligible, little if any time I engaged with this athlete . . . Level Two, a player who wanted to earn a certificate or AA degree, I would offer an education plan to compete their educational goal with major courses, GE requirements, prerequisites, etc . . . Level Three, this player wanted to transfer and was guaranteed transfer to a four-year school utilizing all levels from NAIA to D-1 programs, the player was required to complete the "golden four" for transfer along with core courses to add to their transcripts; Needless to say, the English and math sequence began immediately letting a four-year school know this student-athlete was pursing an academic path toward earning a BA degree . . . From my experience, in talking with four-year recruiters, they were most interested in viewing transcripts that showed a progression of academic integrity even if a player started with a remedial sequence of courses . . . Geniuses were not in high demand but rather athletes who provided a sense of following a sincere path toward a four-year degree . . .
Diablo: fabulous post, can you imagine what a difference your three level approach would have if all community college football programs had it in place? Is it unreasonable to expect that every school would dedicate committed faculty to facilitating success for student athletes willing to do this work?
You have laid out out a template for a major breakthrough in the matriculation process --thanks for posting this.
The JCs that I have been associated with have had an academic advisor that was dedicated to the athletes...... you had to meet with the advisor in order to sign up for classes...... he set your academic course for you placing you in the classes that he assigned.....
All incoming freshmen were required to attend a study hall............. tuitors were available for that needy student !!!! Anyone ever look into the program in place at CCSF ???? It is premier............. wonder why so many of their players get out to D1 ???? Of course they have super athletes but the support academically that George Rush and CCSF provides is also superior !!!!
Thanks for your article Diablos.............. I thought that this was how all JCs treated their athletes future........ just took it for granted....
NCoast65 . . . Regarding the CCSF academic program you mentioned for the football team . . . With CCSF reeling from its failed accreditation, either put Coach Rush at the helm of the campus, or have others on campus follow his formula for success . . . How did this campus leadership fail while a football coach succeeded? Oh, I know, the coach just rolls up his sleeves, dedicates himself to a sport he loves, and works his fanny off to the dismay of fellow Rams on campus? When I see this happen on a CC campus, look for nepotism or a click of individuals in charge taking care of their own? This formula takes time, it is somewhat disguised, and in due time, a campus faces accreditation with its pants down . . .
NCoast65 . . . You missed my point . . . My compliments to Coach Rush . . . The failure on their campus per their accreditation status comes from failed leadership . . . I did read the CCSF accreditation report and was disappointed as a fellow employee of the CC system . . . Mt Sac is fully accredited and the campus academics far exceed the success of the football program . . . I do not work at Mt Sac, I live within the Sac area . . .
CCSF is also very strong in basketball and soccer, but it has a massive enrollment and, of course, issues ongoing with state accreditation. And every coach I have seen there is very high class both in talent, effort and commitment.
But as to this topic, in which Kevin points out the serious issues community college athletes face in qualifying academically, I understand that during orientation at beginning of semester, a faculty rep advises as to enrollment options, and this likely occurs at all schools. But obviously, the process breaks down after semester's start --why else would grades becoming an issue with very qualified football players going to D-1 schools, with at least three to play two?
Diablo's three level template provides for the continuous monitoring of a student-athlete's progress, in a program fit to him ---the faculty rep / tutor / mentor can bealmost as familiar to the kid as his position coach. This allows for a far greater chance that academic matters will not block an otherwise D1 matriculation.
I do not work in football, I am just a fan / community supporter. In the business world, people highly value and promote their most important asset --their people. When I look at JC Football, I see potential for success at every level, we should be seeing plenty of guys like Desmond Bishop / Aaron Rodgers excelling and stating how proud they are of what JC Football gave to them. That is how the "brand" gets well known, how you attract media money, and/or TV contracts.
Again, thanks to everyone who is contributing to the topic, let's hope what we are saying gains a wide viewing, and that Kevin's hard work will accomplish many JC players gaining entry at top programs.