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        Beyond The Ball — college football

        5 WORST Recruiting tips of ALL time

        5 WORST Recruiting tips of ALL time

        Original Article by  

        USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits anddeliversan online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.

        Once the word gets out that you want to in play your sport in college, the “experts” will come out of the woodwork.  Everyone has advice on what will help you achieve your dream.  For that reason, if you are looking for recruiting advice, make sure you are listening to the right people.  Your Uncle Billy who knew someone, who had a cousin, who was second string at XYZ State University is probably not who you should listen to.  Go to your current high school or summer coach and ask for his or her advice.

        Over the years I have heard many stories from many players about how to approach college recruiting.  Much of the advice is good, but some isn’t.  Here are the 5 worst pieces of recruiting advice I have ever heard.  There is a lesson to be learned from each one.

        “Don’t worry, the college coaches will find you”

        If you ask for advice and this is the response, whoever gave the advice just doesn’t have time to help.  If college coaches haven’t already identified you as a potential recruit, then sitting on your couch eating pizza, watching Sports Center and waiting for the phone to ring probably isn’t going to get you to the next level.  If you have the desire and believe you have the talent to play in college, then you need to do something about it.

        It’s a given that college coaches know the 5 star athletes, but that leaves plenty of roster spots available for the rest of high school athletes.  Coaches fill the large majority of their rosters with talented, coachable, hard-working student-athletes who are identified and evaluated by their coaching staff.  Your objective should be to get noticed by those coaching staffs to get recruited. Help them find you.  If you provide a college coach with your contact information, highlight video, game schedule and a way to contact your current coach, you’ve at least given them a roadmap to find you.

        “If you’re good enough, grades don’t matter”

        If someone tells you this and you believe it, your recruiting journey won’t have a happy ending. Listen, you are looking for an athletic scholarship to go to COLLEGE and get an EDUCATION.  In order to play, you have to meet the NCAA and/or NAIA academic eligibility requirements and you have to meet the entrance requirements at any school you plan to attend.

        Most high school students and their parents don’t understand the importance of academics in college recruiting and the emphasis that college athletic programs place on grades.  Quite frankly, that is somewhat surprising.  On almost every television broadcast of a college sporting event the announcers talk about “scholar athletes”, team GPA’s and team graduation rates.  College coaches want athletes in their program that will represent themselves and their university in a positive light and good grades are a good start.  College coaches are actually encouraged by their university to field a team of true “student athletes”.

        For the above reasons, a good athlete with good grades and high standardized test scores is much more attractive to a college coach than a good athlete with marginal grades and a below average ACT or SAT score.  That is a fact.  When trying to decide between two players of similar abilities, coaches will go with the better student every time.

        “Recruiting doesn’t really start until you are a junior”

        If you don’t start the recruiting process until you are a junior, it’s not too late, but it is much more difficult than if you had started as a freshman.  The earlier you start, the more options you will have.  Potential recruits are being identified earlier and earlier every year.  As crazy as it sounds, in some sports college coaches are identifying prospects as early as the 7th or 8th grade.

        I’m not suggesting that elementary students start sending emails to coaches, but as a freshman you should at least start learning about the process and identifying colleges you might be interested in.  As a sophomore, you can start the process by getting on the radar of coaches at colleges in which you have an interest.  If you do the groundwork early, your junior year will be much more productive.

        “You need an online profile if you want to be recruited”

        While an organized profile can be helpful in recruiting, that alone will not lead to a college scholarship.  In fact, if you prepare an athletic resume, it will serve the same purpose as anything you might see online.  Don’t fool yourself, the vast majority of college coaches don’t come home after practice, eat dinner, watch “The Voice” and then log onto recruiting sites to search for potential recruits.  That just doesn’t happen, and even if it did, why would your profile stand out among the thousands of other profiles?

        If you will take the time to send your relevant information to coaches at colleges that are a match for your abilities, you will be ahead of the competition.  At least this way your resume is presented to coaches that might actually be interested.

         

        “Your recruiting video needs to be done by a professional”

        While a professional video set to inspirational music might make your grandparent’s happy, it is certainly not necessary.  Your skills should be the focus, not how entertaining the video is.  Here are some simple tips on how to create an effective highlight video: 

        • Keep it Short – A two or three minute video is long enough. A coach will decide if he or she is interested in the first 45 seconds.
        • Put your Best Highlights First – You only get one chance at a first impression.
        • Post Your Video online – Post your video online (YouTube or Vimeo) and include the link in your first correspondence to a college coach.
        • Know What Coaches look for – Different sports require different approaches. If you are unsure about this, ask your current coach for some help.
        • Show all Your Skills – Use clips that show you’re a well-rounded athlete.
        • Video Quality is Important – Use a high definition camera or your team’s game film.

        Creating a highlight video is not hard. If you are a parent and uncomfortable working on it yourself, ask your kid! I bet they know how to do it.

        A word of warning

        The college recruiting process is not as complicated as many would have you believe.  If the above is the kind of advice you are getting, you need to ask someone else!  And the best place to start is with your current coach.

        8 Recruiting Strategies

        8 Recruiting Strategies

        Original Article By Will Heckman-Mark via blogs.usafootball.com 

        The second semester of a high school athlete’s junior year can be an extremely stressful time. The combination of social life, school, sports, extracurricular activities and the college application process all pull on a teenager’s life and can weigh down even the most determined students.

        Becky Sharpe works with thousands of high school student-athletes each year. As CEO of International Scholarship and Tuition Services, she helps manage more than 500 scholarship programs across the country, resulting in more than 1 million applications and $30 million in scholarships annually.

        Sharpe offered eight strategies to help high school juniors manage these next two years in a way that maximizes their potential to play football in college and graduate with a degree.

        1. Stay on top of academics. Colleges place great importance on grades earned during the high school junior year and continue to monitor academic progress even after a student is admitted. GPA can be weighted or unweighted depending on the school and a student’s coursework. It is important for students to make sure that their GPA is accurately represented on transcripts that are sent to colleges.
        2. Identify realistic colleges of interest. In addition to financial, geographic and athletic factors, “Look at admission standards for schools of interest,” Sharpe said. “Athletes need to understand what is required of them to be an athlete at School X and make sure it matches their ability levels. It varies by school, but all that info can be found on the school’s website.”
        3. Find football camps that will maximize exposure. “Camps are a great way to get exposed, but an invitation needs to be perceived as exactly what it is,” Sharpe said. High school coaches can be resources for an honest evaluation of an athlete’s talent level and skill set. Using that information, players can find the camps and schools that best align with their abilities and give them the chance to stand out.
        4. Research available scholarships. “There are a plethora of free scholarship sites out there,” Sharpe said. “The key to navigating the scholarship world is if it’s fee-based, you should probably question it. All legitimate sites are free such as fastweb.com, chegg.com and scholarshipmonkey.com that list free scholarships. If you are applying for financial aid, make sure you fill out a FAFSA form and share it with schools you are interested in applying to.” Many companies and colleges have their own scholarship programs. Students can ask their parents and family friends about any connection to these opportunities, research them online and contact the financial aid office at their prospective schools with questions. Most scholarships will become available in the fall of senior year, with most financial deadlines occurring the following spring.
        5. Continue offseason training programs. Augment regular physical conditioning with advice from coaches and trainers at camps. Playing other sports helps to develop overall athleticism.
        6. Keep a Hudl highlight video up-to-date. Hudl is a useful tool for showing what a player can do on the field. Make sure the video is up-to-date with the most recent game footage. “In addition to a highlight video, we suggest an introductory video, maybe 30 seconds, one minute at most, to post on social media,” Sharpe said. “Show you are well-spoken, introduce yourself to recruiters and give them a sense of why you want to play at the next level or attend their school or just why you love the game, anything to set you apart.”
        7. Maintain a positive, tasteful presence on social media. “Represent what you want a coach to see about you,” Sharpe said. “When in doubt, don’t post. Avoid instant posting. Take the time to think about it first.” Social media posts should be positive and upbeat. Sharing goals and plans to achieve them reflects positive attitude and ambition, whereas complaining and offensive material reveals immaturity. While every recruiter is different, many will only skim or glance at these accounts, so avoiding any obvious red flags is paramount.
        8. Stay organized. Staying on top of these seven goals is daunting and can overwhelm student-athletes without a proper plan. There are apps and online tools designed to assist organization. These can help to arrange priorities and meet deadlines. “In order to achieve a goal, there has to be accountability,” Sharpe said. "Find a partner or a peer group and say, ‘This is my goal and this is when I’ll reach it.' Write it down, tell someone and get them to help you – a parent, coach, friend or mentor who will push you to achieve that goal.”

        College football video game to release in 2020; 'Gridiron Champions' vision of two Alabama men

        College football video game to release in 2020; 'Gridiron Champions' vision of two Alabama men

        It's been a long journey for Alex and Kameron Lewis.

        The two cousins from Mobile, Alabama, grew up playing college football video games. Needless to say, there has been a void in that gaming arena.

        After years of behind-the-scenes work, the two men - and their company iMackulate Vision Gaming (iMackulate or "IMV") - announced Monday plans for "Gridiron Champions," a college football video game.

        The release is set for 2020, and gamers will be able to purchase and use, via digital download, through services like the PlayStation, Xbox and Steam on-line stores priced at $59.99.

        AL.com first brought you the story of Alex and Kameron back in 2016.

        Alex and Kameron Lewis are planning to launch their video game, through their company IMV Gaming.

         "The reaction from the press release has been overwhelmingly positive," Alex Lewis told AL.com in a phone interview on Monday. "We're excited. We've been working so long in silence, trying to build up to this point with the investment group to get everything set up, so we're excited to get this out."

        "Gridiron Champions" is expected to offer gamers the opportunity to customize player uniforms, stadiums, fan atmosphere and recreate pageantry though this unique college football experience.

        "There is no college football game on the market that offers a creative experience like 'Gridiron Champions,' and we're excited to be the first to hit the marketplace in 2020," Lewis, CEO of IMV, said.

        Back in 2016, the financial goal was to raise $2.5 million to develop the video game. On Monday, Alex Lewis was proud to announce that goal has been exceeded.

        "We currently are in an agreement with an investment group, who has agreed to invest in excess of $10 million to the development and operational costs - and possibly the licensing costs within the first or second edition of the game," he explained.

        "We're not trying to guarantee anyone it will be in the first edition, but we definitely want to pursue that in the second edition."

        What that means is in the first edition, in all likelihood, gamers won't see their favorite team names or mascots, due to licensing costs as discussed back in 2016.  

        One of the biggest issues with any game, as gamers know, is the likeness of current student-athletes, which was the cornerstone of the Ed O'Bannon case.

        The lawsuit filed against Electronic Arts (EA Sports) and the NCAA resulted in the discontinuation of the college video game franchise.

        O'Bannon was the lead plaintiff in O'Bannon v. NCAA, an antitrust class action lawsuit filed against the NCAA on behalf of football and men's basketball players over the organization's use for commercial purposes of the images of its former student athletes.

        As it plans the roll-out, IMV Gaming is working on the next steps such as discussions with game developers in the manufacturing partner selection process as well as the future games for 2021, which include a potentially licensed version of Gridiron Champions and potentially a college basketball experience.

         Alex Lewis said the development of the game will take 18 months. He said 2019 is still a possibility, but he wanted to give people a more "realistic" drop date.

        The game will soon be available to view through a featured demo/video. Continued gamer pre-launch sales are offered through their website at imackulatevisiongaming.com.

        "It's been a long, hard journey, whether in silence or the public eye," Alex Lewis said. "From the beginning, it just started as a general idea and a concept. We did our research and our due diligence. We used the philosophy "brick by brick" to get us to this point. 

        "What really got the investing group's attention was the culmination of all the small (stuff) we were able to build up to this point. It's very exciting to build something organically. And when you build something like this, you just realize that nothing happens overnight."

        After working for more than two years toward "Gridiron Champions," IMV Gaming joined forces with Oakland Raiders' Vadal Alexander and Brooklyn Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie as early founding investors.

        "Our current sponsorships and partnerships include, but are not limited to Xenith, Phenom Elite, Signing Day Recruiting, and Gridiron Football Helmets," Rusty Sugg, Chief Operations Officer, said in a release. "We pride ourselves in maintaining a direct connection with our target audience."

        Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.

        What College Coaches Are Really Looking for in a Highlight Video

        What College Coaches Are Really Looking for in a Highlight Video

        Nebraska Director of Player Personnel Ryan Gunderson breaks down how to craft the best highlight videos - and some snags to avoid.

        Between managing his team, scouting opponents, performing video analysis and recruiting, a college coach’s schedule is generally jam-packed. With so little free time, something needs to be pretty special to catch his attention.

        This is why it’s critical for athletes to create quick, effective highlight videos. Make one or two mistakes and the coach is moving on.

        Hudl enlisted the help of Ryan Gunderson, the Director of Player Personnel at Nebraska, to learn how coaches watch highlight videos and what to avoid in the video-making process. The former Oregon State quarterback shed some light on things that coaches look for - and what they don’t want to see.

        Keep It Brief but Impactful

        Gunderson emphasized the importance of brevity. Time is one of a coach’s most valuable assets, and a coaching staff doesn’t have the patience to view 10 minutes worth of highlights for every player. A recruit has precious seconds to snare a coach’s attention before he moves on.

        “Always put your best stuff first,” Gunderson said. “Don’t save your best stuff for last. Put it up front. You may only get 30 seconds or a minute of somebody’s time and if that doesn’t impress them right away, they’re not going to turn your film back on.”

        Coaches rarely make it to the end of even the most impressive highlight videos. Gunderson said coaches will typically watch a good video for two to three minutes, then turn to game tape to see if the athlete is consistently dominant or just has a few explosive plays.

        Gunderson recommended keeping a highlight video to five minutes, adding that elite prospects need little time to prove their worth.

        “Depending on who the kid is, he may need to show only ten plays,” Gunderson said. “Some guys just need a ten-clipper or a five-clipper. It’s five plays and it’s not even hard to tell the kid is a stud. If you can get 25-30 plays on a tape, that’s probably plenty.”

        Take Derrion Grim’s video for example. The video is very long, but Grim starts his video with six straight touchdowns, all of which show off different strengths. A coach doesn’t need to wade through Grim’s entire video to see what he has to offer. It quickly becomes apparent why Rivals ranked him as the nation’s No. 37 athlete in the 2016 class.

        Add Variety to Your Highlight

        Athletes should use a host of different types of plays to put their full array of skills on video. It’s a mistake to include only plays that highlight one part of a player’s game.

        For instance, showing a series of 50-yard runs when a running back bounced to the perimeter shows off his speed. But to give a coach a full understanding of his skills, the back would be advised to include plays that show him breaking tackles, juking safeties and catching passes.

        “It’s good to showcase your speed, your variety, your change of direction, all that type of stuff,” Gunderson said. “You need to find the plays that highlight those things.”

        Josh Rosen provided a good sample of this in his senior video. He starts by displaying his arm strength with a couple of deep throws, but also proves he can execute seam, fade, corner and slant routes, and he has ability to move in the pocket and make tough throws under pressure.

        And show plays that conclude in the end zone, especially early in the highlight. Getting tackled isn’t a way to impress prospective recruiters.

        “Our wide receivers coach (Keith Williams) always says, ‘I don’t want to see you getting tackled at the beginning of your highlight film,’” Gunderson said. “‘I’m not impressed by you getting tackled.’”

        Consider the Music Selection

        Many athletes use background music to enhance their video or ramp up the excitement. For the most part, Gunderson said, that’s fine. Hudl allows users to create a unique highlight experience designed to wow friends and family.

        Just don’t expect it to get coaches too hyped up.

        Gunderson typically watches highlight videos on mute, so music doesn’t affect him one way or the other. But he has seen instances where a recruit includes a track with vulgar lyrics, a move that causes coaches to question his judgment.

        “You just think about it and you’re like, ‘You know you’re sending this out to college coaches and they’re going to watch it,’” Gunderson said. “‘Are you dumb? Why would you do that?’’”

        Quick Hitters

        Here are a few last tips Gunderson offered:

        ***Don’t interrupt a play to spotlight yourself. If you do use a spotlight, do it before the play begins. Pausing mid-play chops up the video and makes it tough to judge fluidity and athleticism.

        ***If you play both sides of the ball, feel free to share clips from multiple positions. For example, if a linebacker prospect also plays running back, Gunderson recommended including some highlights on offense. Those clips can showcase athleticism and catch a coach’s eye.

        ***Have a highlight video constructed before your senior season. But if you aren’t getting the offers you want, Gunderson recommended making another video from the first three or four games of your final year to try and generate new interest.

        Your highlight is often a coach’s first exposure to you as an athlete and can play a critical role in the recruiting process. Now that you know what coaches are looking for, it’s time to get started on your video. Any additional questions can be answered here.

        Original Article by: Dan Hoppen via Hudl.com