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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 Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
Jeremiah Robbins has been the head baseball coach at Lewis-Clark State College (NAIA) for the last four years. In his time as skipper, Coach Robbins has led his Warrior baseball program to the national championship game four times, winning it all in 2015 and 2016. Oh, and in those four years, Coach Robbins has had ten of his players tabbed as All-Americans and ten of his players selected in the MLB Amateur Draft. Here’s my point: this guy can coach.
I sat down with Coach Robbins this week to get his take on the college recruiting process. Here is what he had to say.
Q: How do you and your staff identify recruits?
A: We really take pride in recruiting our region to the fullest. Our staff works hard to make sure we are identifying the recruits here in the Pacific Northwest. We are fortunate to have some great relationships with other coaches and with our area scouts (MLB). Typically, they alert us on a player we need to take a look at.
Regardless of how we identify a player though, it’s a matter of us getting out and watching a lot of baseball games. It’s beating the streets! For us to get serious about any potential recruit, we have got to see them play with our own eyes. And we want to see them in live game action. I am not a big fan of evaluating a guy in the workout setting because I don’t think you can truly understand who that player is. Competition brings out the types of things that attract us to any recruit. We want to see how a young man handles the challenges when it counts.
Q: What does it take for a recruit to get a scholarship offer from LC State baseball?
A: Obviously, the biggest piece will always be the talent. That’s going to be what gets our attention, initially. But for us to get to a place where we are offering a young man a scholarship, we have to feel good about how he handles the challenges of the game. How does he respond after he gives up a home run? How will he react to making an error?
Failure is a huge part of baseball. We want kids that play the game with a certain pace, a real passion for playing baseball. Our staff spends a lot of time watching how kids interact with their teammates and coaches. How do they act in between innings and in the dugout?
We don’t take offering a scholarship lightly. We want to make sure we are getting the right guy and we are going to do our homework on you. When we see the combination of talent, resiliency and someone that knows how to control their emotions, that’s somebody we are going to invest in.
Q: What is your advice to a recruit interested in your program that you have not yet identified?
A: I absolutely love when a player reaches out to us and lets us know he wants to be a part of our program. I would tell that recruit to send us an email or pick up the phone and call us. We want the kids that want us. We call it the “want-to” factor. We love when a recruit gets their information to us because it shows they’ve put some thought into what they want. That gets us excited and it’s going to get our attention. And, once you get that conversation going with us, we will absolutely figure out whether or not you are a good fit for us and we are a good fit for you.
We will always do our best to make sure you are making the right decision for yourself, even if that means you don’t end up here.
Q: What is your advice to parents and student-athletes going through the recruiting process?
A: Take your time and do your homework. Research the school. Research the program. Talk to the coaches and find a way to talk to current or former players from the program. Take a visit to the schools you have interest in and get on campus. Make it a priority to sit down with the coaching staff and faculty members. Get that face-to-face time.
You have to do your very best to understand what life is going to look like for you, not only as a member of the team, but also as a student at the school. Find the right fit for you and go with your heart. Don’t get caught up with the stuff you get from the program, like the gear and shoes. Instead, understand the substance you will get, like the coaching and the teammates you will be around.
As a coach, it’s just a sad thing to see the number of kids transferring these days. I think players need to account for their decisions and make sure they are picking a school for all of the right reasons. If it doesn’t feel right now, it isn’t going to feel right when you get on campus. Just slow down and do your best to get it right.
Q: Why has LC State baseball been so successful?
A: It takes every member of our program to be on the same page with the same mission. We live in a day and age where so many people are disconnected from each other. There are just so many distractions.
As a team, we really focus on limiting those distractions and constantly evaluating the direction we are going. It’s tough to get a group of young men to be as one. There are so many things throughout the season that can derail the mission.
I think we are just very aware of what it takes to stay focused and we do our best to be together, to be a team. We don’t focus on the championships or the winning. We focus on the friendships, the bonds and the relationships. That’s what it’s all about!