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Nearly every program splits recruiting responsibilities between the staff, primarily by geographic region or by position. Each staff may designate an assistant coach or staff member as the coordinator but normally each assistant coach has an equal responsibility to sign players. One of your first assignments is to find out which coach is responsible for recruiting your area or position at each school that you are interested in.
Many players and parents make the mistake of demanding or waiting to speak to the head coach first, you’ll get through MUCH quicker by asking for the coach who scouts your area or position.
Unless you are a McDonald’s All-American or Gatorade Player of the Year, the head coach probably won’t be calling you back!
Once you can get your video and info to the coach who recruits your area or position (more about this later) and they are impressed and are interested in recruiting you or offering you, they will take your information to the head coach and your recruitment will go from there. Assistant coaches do their research on you before alerting the head coach about you as a potential recruit, that’s why it’s so critical that you start with them first! In most cases, even if you are able to meet or speak with the head coach, they’ll likely forward you or your information to the appropriate assistant coach without spending much personal time on it—this is the chain of command within most teams.
Many programs split up the home state, giving each assistant coach an assigned area to monitor and build relationships in. Most schools make it a priority to keep “the best players in the state at home,” making sure each of the assistant coaches play a role in identifying ALL potential recruits in the state and building relationships with prep coaches and programs at home. Each assistant is often assigned a handful of counties to become an expert in within the state.
In most cases, college coaches still put a lot of attention to in-state high schools even if they currently have no prospects. They are building long-term relationships for the future so that once the school has a great player they will already have close relationships with the coaching staff. They’re never just building for that season, they’re building for the future.
Major metropolitan areas are usually assigned after that—Atlanta, DC/Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles. Key states and regions are assigned from there— Florida, California, Texas, Northeast, Midwest, West Coast and so on. Staffs cover the map—usually including an international contact—so your first priority is identifying these assistant coaches at the schools that you are interested in who are responsible for recruiting your AREA or POSITION.
For example, when an SEC head football coach hires his assistants, they all need strong Florida, Georgia and Alabama ties. They will also need a mix of coaches with ties to the Northeast, East Coast, Midwest, Texas and West Coast. Same thing for West Coast teams, they have assistant coaches with ties across California, Washington and Oregon as well as a mix of staff that has strong ties to the Midwest, Northeast and the South. Each school has a regional focus in recruiting, and each program varies with the level of emphasis that they put on recruiting at a national level, usually dependent on their budget.
Coaches are normally assigned specific geographic regions because it’s an area they grew up in, went to college in, have worked in before or have previous ties to. It’s also helpful for coaches to have personal ties to those regions: parents of recruits (and their extended families) oftentimes have mutual friends with college coaches which helps in building relationships during the process! It always helps in building relationships if coaches are a friend of a cousin, brother, mother and those ties can go back decades. Coaches want parents and players to feel a built-in familiarity with them, and that has a lot to do with long-term personal relationships. Good or bad, they have a ‘track record’ in the area.
Most head coaches will say that their priority is to recruit and keep the best in-state players at home, but all major FBS programs will recruit nationally for the best talent possible. Smaller schools may focus more regionally since they have smaller budgets and less media coverage. Smaller schools may focus on prospects within driving distance instead of constantly flying coaches across the country to market their program or regularly flying recruits in on expensive flights.
Long term, established relationships that NCAA coaches have with prep programs are often the reason that many assistants are actually hired. They are able to provide an immediate pipeline to a targeted area, the staff won’t have to start from scratch when getting to know high school and AAU coaches in the area. Many coaches have built their careers off the foundation of having a strong history of signing players (and taking care of them while they are coaching them) from certain regions. I’ve worked with many whose strengths were in their recruiting connections—to Maryland, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Orlando, New York City, Miami and New Jersey.
Once you can identify your recruiting coaches at the schools that you are interested in, get on their radar by sending your highlight video and Student-Athlete Resume. That is the only true way to get your foot in the door and be taken serious!