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RECRUITING DOS AND DON'TS

After all the hoopla, all the phone calls, all the visits, all the promises, all the, ahem, stretching of the truth, national signing day finally has arrived.

For the area's top recruits, this is an occasion to celebrate.

But to many, it's also a day that couldn't get here fast enough.

With that in mind, and with the help of Armwood running back Eric Smith, former Florida State assistant Jim Gladden and Armwood coach Sean Callahan, we've put together a list for next year's crop of recruits.

- Do be courteous to the schools recruiting you. One of the first things a recruit should do after making a commitment is to call the "losers" to let them know of his decision to go elsewhere. A Web site should never know where you're going before a coach.

- Don't limit your options too early in the process. According to Callahan, a recruit shouldn't say "no" to a school until he's absolutely sure. And even then, he should probably wait a little longer.

- Do give 100 percent all the time. "If a kid didn't crank it up when I was there, what was he like when I wasn't there?" Gladden said.

- Don't believe everything you hear. "A school that promises you the world probably isn't the school for you," Smith said. "Some will tell you you'll start right away. They don't know that. They haven't seen you against college competition."

- Do ask every coach to see a current depth chart.

- Don't wait to take the ACT or SAT. Callahan recommends doing so in the spring of a student's sophomore year.

- Don't forget about your work in class. College coaches don't just analyze your video, they examine your transcripts.

- Do pick a school that's in an area that fits your style. If you're a small-town guy, Clemson might suit you better than, say, UCLA or Northwestern.

- Don't just talk to the stars. On an official visit, get a true sense of what the program is all about by chatting with the backups, too. As Smith suggests, "See how redshirted players get treated."

- Do take at least two official visits if possible. A recruit shouldn't commit to a school until he has something else with which to compare it.

- Don't listen to everyone else's advice. Mom, dad, aunts, uncles and friends all mean well, but the decision, which will probably be the biggest of your life thus far, is yours.

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