College Athletic Recruiting Misconceptions: College Camps, Showcases, and Recruiting Services

As we stated in our last college athletics recruiting post, there are many misconceptions when it comes to college recruiting.  Below are answers to additional recruiting questions. True or False: Showcases are the ONLY thing that student-athletes need to get noticed. False. The chances are slim for student athletes to be discovered at college showcase. College coaches use showcases as a means of evaluating players they already know. In other words, many college coaches attend showcases with a list of players they are interested in evaluating and who the coaches have had prior contact with. If you are not on a coach’s radar prior to the showcase, chances are slim that they will be watching you when it is your time to perform.

While showcases can indeed be an important step in the process, in all reality it is just the tip of the iceberg. Identifying specific schools and being proactive is really essential. Realistically targeting schools that are a good fit, contacting those coaches, making a concise highlight tape, and educating yourselves about the college athletics recruiting process are the most critical steps.

Are college camps worth attending? Similar to showcases, college coaches use their camps to evaluate players they already know. The chances for student athletes to be discovered at a college camp are slim. If the college coach does not know who you are prior to the camp, chances are slim that they will not be seriously evaluating you for their program during the duration of the camp.

College camps can be a valuable recruiting tool for student athletes if they have had prior contact with the college coach.  Attending college camps gives student athletes a great opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a college coaching staff.

If a highly personalized letter accompanies your camp brochure, or you receive a phone call from a particular coach inviting you to their camp, then attending the camp is certainly worth considering. If you are interested in a particular school, and you believe that the coach is indeed actively recruiting you, it is in your best interest to find out if they are either hosting a camp of their own or if they will be in attendance at another college camp.

What if my student-athlete only wants to play DI ball? Division I baseball is extremely competitive.  If the desire to play collegiate baseball is sincere, then the level of competition should not matter. Being realistic is critical to finding the right fit and achieving a better overall athletic experience at the next level. Unfortunately, there are many great high school baseball players who sit the bench at D1 programs when they could have had an opportunity to compete and strengthen their skills at a smaller school. The first step in this process is finding out if your student-athlete wants to play college ball, and if so, determining a realistic level of competition.

Are recruiting services worth the money? Recruiting Services will never hurt you in the process – in fact, it can only help. The essential question about recruiting services is evaluating whether or not the benefits of these services justify the cost. Many of these recruiting services cost thousands of dollars for the creation of a profile and/or video, which they then email to hundreds of coaches nationwide. The overwhelming majority of the schools these services send your information to are probably schools you would never consider attending anyways.

Because there are numerous recruiting services doing the same thing on a daily basis, college coaches are inundated with similar emails from recruiting services who are recommending prospects that the services themselves barely know. In short, many of these emails are considered nothing more than junk mail, and are consequently never opened.

Secondly, any college coach will tell you that they want to hear directly from the student athlete, not mom or dad, and not from an outside source that is being paid to recommend and represent you. Contacting college coaches on your own is a proactive approach to the recruiting process that shows maturity, poise, and responsibility—aspects that college coaches are looking for in all of their potential players.

If you decide to go with a recruiting service, understand that it is still really critical that you do some work on your own as well. At the end of the day, you need to be your own advocate. In addition, be sure that you consistently communicate and follow up with your recruiting service, and hold them accountable for everything they say they will do for you.

College Athletic Recruiting Misconceptions: The Clearinghouse and Scholarships

Many misconceptions about college sports recruiting, scholarships, and the Clearinghouse exist. We want to put these to rest. What is the NCAA Clearinghouse? In order for your student-athlete to play Division I and Division II college athletics, each student-athlete needs to be certified through the NCAA Eligibility Clearinghouse. Division III athletes are not asked to submit their information to the Clearinghouse.

What are Division I, II, III subgroups for college athletics? Each Division is based on respective school size, legitimacy of the athletic teams, and scholarships available. Division I institutions are the biggest schools; they have the most amount of athletic scholarship money. Their athletic programs are the best. Division II are smaller schools but they still offer athletic scholarships. Division II athletic programs are usually a step below Division I. Division III schools are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships, but can give student-athletes academic scholarship money. These are the biggest three subgroups in NCAA athletics.

Is it imperative to register your prospective student-athlete to the NCAA Clearinghouse upon becoming a high school junior? It isn’t necessary for your student-athlete to sign up for the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse has a fee of $65 dollars for each application given to the NCAA Eligibility Center. The only student-athletes who need to register are the athletes that are looking to play Division I and II athletics. Division III athletes do not need to submit their information to the Clearinghouse. In submitting their information as juniors, student-athletes become eligible to play Division I and II athletics and eligible to earn an athletic scholarship.

Do you have to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at all? As previously stated Division I and II athletes need to submit their information to the eligibility center. Division III and NAIA student-athletes do not have to submit their information. If a Division I or II student-athlete does not submit their information before stepping on the field their freshman year, they will become ineligible until the Clearinghouse certifies that that student-athlete is eligible.

What are NAIA schools? The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is home to nearly 300 institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The NAIA is a separate governing body than the NCAA. The NAIA has its own policies and rules (pdf).

Do coaches gain more exposure to my student-athlete once he/she is eligible on the Clearinghouse? Registering with the Clearinghouse will not gain a student athlete any more exposure. The Clearinghouse only ensures that the student-athlete is eligible to play at the college level. College coaches have nothing to do with the Clearinghouse.

I got a letter from a Division I college. This means they want me, correct? Just because you received a letter from a Division I coach does not mean that they necessarily want you. Of course receiving mail feels great, but a lot of the time, they send mail to promote a camp, showcase, or the institution. A college letter is just the beginning, you need to follow that letter up by proactively promoting yourself so the coach and the program will want you. If the letter seems like a mass e-mail, or mass mailing, it probably is. Don’t get your hopes down, you made it on a list with many other prospective student-athletes looking at the school. Your goal is to stay on that list, and even work your way up that list. The way you do that is by being proactive, doing what you need to do in the classroom, and also on the field.

Can Division II schools give me athletic scholarship money? Yes, Division II schools are able to give student-athletes athletic scholarships. However, these schools might not have as much scholarship money as Division I institutions. Division III schools are not allowed to give athletic money to their student-athletes.

What is a core course? Core courses are math, science, english, and history courses. Gym, health, music, and many other electives are not considered core courses. Core courses are essential for eligibility to play at Division I and Division II schools. For Division I students-athletes, 16 core courses are needed in high school. For Division II student-athletes, that number is 14 core courses. Beginning August 1, 2013, students planning to attend an NCAA Division II institution will be required to complete 16 core courses.

Can my student-athlete get into college specifically on their ACT/SAT scores? ACT and SAT scores are usually looked at in what in the college admittance world is a sliding scale. If your student-athlete does well in the classroom but isn't a good test-taker, colleges will be more lenient due to his or her hard work in the classroom. If your student-athlete hasn’t done well on his or her GPA, but does better on the ACT or SAT, college coaches are more likely to let the GPA slide.

Evaluating College Recruiting Resources

The amount of recruiting resources available to student-athletes can be overwhelming.  If you type college recruiting into any internet search engine, you will easily be bombarded with hundreds of different resources aimed at helping student athletes in the college recruiting process. These resources include elite showcases, college camps, summer exposure travel teams, and college recruiting services. 

However, does the existence of these resources make college recruiting easier to understand?  Do all of these services provide each student-athlete with a greater chance of achieving success in the recruiting process compared to past generations when few of these resources existed?  Does the cost of these recruiting resources justify their benefits?

While there are certainly a greater amount of recruiting resources available to today’s student athletes, DNA Sports believes that their existence has caused greater confusion about the process, in addition to thousands of dollars wasted. 

Many families are also unclear as to how to properly utilize these available resources, a fact that further hinders student athletes from being successful with this process.

Not only do prospective college recruits and their families need to be educated about the recruiting process in general, but they also need to understand the truth behind all of these recruiting resources and their limitations in order to avoid destructive traps that can take student-athletes off the correct path.