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Elite College Coaches Give Recruiting Advice

Mike Fox, North Carolina Baseball

Q: Does the scholarship amount you offer a player predict his playing time?

A: When we meet with a young man and his family, there’s always two big elephants that walk in the room. And those are, “How much are we going to offer you and how soon can you play?” It’s a conversation about dollar amount and playing time. As important as both of those things are, you should understand that the two of those things don’t go together. Scholarship dollars and playing time don’t correlate. The reality of college recruiting is that you don’t control how much you get offered, but you do control the playing time you get.

I learned very early on at UNC that families equated scholarship amount, to a player’s worth. That’s just not the case. Listen, I’m not that good to be able to tell a high school player how much I think they’re “worth” to our program before they get on campus. In a perfect world, we’d be giving the scholarship amount when they’re leaving UNC, after their career was over. At that point, we’d definitely know how much they meant to our program. A scholarship offer is not a predictor for playing time. I think I’m most like other coaches when I say, we will put the best nine out on the field. End of story.

Q: How can a recruit be confident that he/she is making the right college decision?

A: We want kids that have a legitimate interest in The University of North Carolina. That’s why when we make an offer, we don’t put a deadline on when a player needs to accept that offer. We only want kids that want to be here. And, the only way we figured out how to do that is by encouraging kids to go visit all the other schools they want to visit. If you’re in a position to receive an offer from us, go see what else is out there. You should. Because if a young man visits all the other ACC schools, then calls us and tells us he wants to come to North Carolina, then he’s really telling us that North Carolina is where he wants to be. You’re going to experience trials and tribulations anywhere you go. To be confident in your commitment, you need to have both feet in, whatever school you decide on.

Heather Tarr, Washington Softball

Q: How does a high school athlete go about getting your attention?

A: The talent piece is first. You have to be good enough to even be considered to play at UW, or any major Division I school, for that matter. Listen, it takes serious physical talent to compete at this level. You should be at a point that you know you’re one of the very best players in your area, wherever you’re from. It shouldn’t be a question or something you’re unsure of.

I tell young players all the time that you can’t force someone to like you. That’s especially true for the recruiting process. If you’re wanting to play for your dream school, try to get that school to tell you no. Reach out to the program, have your high school or travel coach make a call. Figure out if you have a legitimate chance to be recruited and if you aren’t getting a no, then continue to pursue the opportunity. Go to camps, send video and emails. And if you do get a no, be thankful for the answer, because you can move on to other opportunities.

Q: Talk to me about the impact social media plays in the recruiting process.

A: Social media is such a big part of everyday life, for so many people. It’s natural for us to see what we can find when we’re going through that evaluation process with every athlete. You may or may not be able to see reality in everyone just by looking at their social media, but you can certainly see their use. That’s something we pay great attention to. Is a player using their social media in a professional manner? During school hours, are you liking and retweeting all day? Are you up all hours of the night posting or sharing emotions? If so, that’s probably not a good thing. It’s an indicator to coaches of how you spend your time or how you’re going to represent yourself if you were in our program. We want people that know how to professionally represent themselves while they’re here, and as alumni of the University of Washington.

John Cook, Nebraska Volleyball

Q: How can a recruit be confident that he/she is making the right college decision?

A: I think it’s almost like when you’re trying to find a job. You hear the phrase “you just know” or “you had a gut feeling” thrown out there quite a bit. Well, I think that’s how to explain it with college recruiting, as well. There’s no perfect formula to follow. It can literally work differently for every student-athlete. So, when it comes to deciding, the only way you can have any sort of certainty, is to go with your gut.

Now, there isn’t necessarily a science to recruiting, but there is a business side to it. When you look at scholarships, financial aid and start comparing the divisions and available packages, those are the things I try to focus on when dealing with parents and kids. Because the business side of it allows more components for you to consider in effort to find the right place. That’s a big piece of it, but no matter how much you try to analyze your decision, it usually comes down to a gut feeling. Where do you feel the most at home?

Q: Give me your thoughts on recruiting multi-sport athletes.

A: Given our location, many of the girls we recruit are Nebraska girls or they’re from the Midwest. That means many of them are from smaller towns. When you live in a small town, you’re doing everything. You’re on the student council, you’re in the band, you’re in the school play and you’re playing the sport that’s in season. Well, that gives us the unique opportunity to recruit more than just the volleyball player. We love recruiting multi-sport athletes. We love being able to recruit a player in a non-volleyball situation. Because, those situations reveal more about the competitor or athlete you’re wanting to see. And, when the value you see on the volleyball court translates to the basketball court, or whatever else she’s doing, that’s when you know you’re getting someone special.

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