The Recruiting Process: Making the List (Part I of III)

I had the opportunity to listen to a college coach speak to a group of aspiring high school football players about the recruiting process. He answered some basic questions and then said something quite profound that I wish more high school players could hear, “If I’m recruiting a position, I may begin with 100 names on my list. But because time and resources are limited, I’m looking for ways to cross you off that list, not keep you on it.”

This month’s blog will be part one of a three part series that focuses on the recruiting process of a high school football player and includes insights from coaches at the NFL level, D1, 2 & 3 colleges and our Trickey-Wright QBR staff.

Part One: Making the List

  1. Your play on the field:

Making the recruiting list of any college football program will be dictated first and foremost by your play on the field. Coaches are looking for players who they feel can benefit their program to help them win games. Stats and end of season recognition (All-Conference, All-Area, etc…) will help you catch the attention of certain schools. However, when it comes down to evaluation, the film never lies! The coaches I spoke to listed a couple specific things they need to see from QB’s and Receivers.


  • (#1 by far) Being able to make all the throws on the field (Short, Medium, Long)
  • Pocket Presence / Mobility
  • Athleticism
  • Play Making Ability
  • Accuracy
  • Toughness / Leadership

Receivers (could include TEs/RBs and how they look catching the ball):

  • (#1) Catching the ball away from your body (Hands)
  • Making plays with the ball when you get it
  • Change of direction
  • Route running
  • Speed
  • Explosiveness
  • Versatility (Returning kicks, making tackles on special teams etc.)
  1. Create a highlight Video

As you look at those things that coaches say they are looking for, it is important that you set-up your highlight film with those in mind. Making touchdowns against bad teams are definitely ok to show, but that doesn’t demonstrate much to a college coach. With all of the film a coach has to watch, the first 3-5 plays should “jump out” to a coach. From there, you build a collection of clips that solidify what the coach saw from those first clips.

  1.  Your measurables:

Whose list you make it on after they view your film, or sometimes even before the film, will come down to your measurables. Height, weight, 40 yard dash or official track time. Typically for these position’s weight room numbers don’t need to be included at first, but will become important down the road. If you do not have official numbers on those, you can download the Hudl Combine App and record yourself running your 40 and other tests. They will be verified and you can share them with coaches.

While the tendency on high school rosters can be to add an inch or two, plus 10 pounds, this is an area that will go along way towards earning the trust of a coach: REPORT ACCURATE NUMBERS! The coach is going to find out eventually when they stop at your school or see you in camp. Don’t waste their time and get your hopes up by embellishing your numbers. Believe it or not, even an inch can make a difference.

  1.  Preparing for recruiting visits:

One really important thing to keep in mind is the timing of recruiting for different divisions. As a general process, coaches will come through the high schools in the spring once spring ball is done and “bump” into a player and communicate with your high school coach. However, their interest at that time does not mean you’re getting a scholarship or that you are high on their list. They want to get eyes on you and hopefully shake your hand and see how you can communicate. Remember, coaches don’t coach you over text messages. They use that first meeting to make a judgement about what kind of man you are. If you can’t look them in the eye and hold a conversation, there is little chance you’re making any list.

  1.  Be realistic in your expectations and stay positive:

I’ve seen many high school players get really let down or anxious when they don’t have any offers coming into their senior year. If you’re an elite player with a chance to go to an FBS school, there is a chance you already have some offers entering your senior season; if you’re off the charts, maybe as a sophomore or junior. However, everything trickles down from there. Not all FCS scholarships are given before senior seasons. Division 2 schools may have been communicating with you, but if you’re not super high on their list, you may not get any offer until after the season when they can see your senior film and get you on campus. Finally, D3 and NAIA schools come around after your season AND their season is done. They’re looking to see who fell through the cracks and who would love an opportunity to continue their playing career.

While there is a lot of hype and money surrounding recruiting, the coaches we talked to suggested the importance of slowing down and understanding that very few players are early offer athletes. That doesn’t make you a bad player or someone who is not qualified to play college football. It just means the coaches need more time to evaluate and get to know you before they make a decision.

In the next blog I’ll discuss “How to  stay on this list”, including how to select the right college camps to attend.

Posted in Goals, Recruiting

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