AFM Home | The Staff Report | Oct 2004

Recruiting Suggestions for the High School Coach

By Bob Chmiel

Having ten years of high school experience, I can relate to the recruiting process as it affects you, the high school coach. Also, with fifteen years of college coaching, as well as holding the title of Recruiting Coordinator, I can relate to this process from a collegiate standpoint.

I sincerely hope that some of my suggestions will assist you in what has evolved to be a complex and, at times, difficult process. Keeping in mind that this process is reciprocal from prospect to college coach, with you many times being the focal point, your role is critical. Add to this quotient the N.C.A.A. regulations issues which can be complicated.

Many parents that you will be dealing with are experiencing recruiting for the first time and probably the only time. A process of educating families should probably begin in the period just after the completion of the freshman football season and followed up with a meeting each year. This suggestion may prove to be time consuming, but I sincerely believe that these open lines of communication will pay dividends during the recruit’s senior year. Expectations by parents must remain realistic. I believe that when these expectations become inflated, strained relationships can occur.

I recently read an article in a reputable newspaper in which a high school coach was insinuated to be lax in his duties as a promoter of his senior athletes. This article caught my attention because my friendship with this particular coach has spanned a twenty-year period. He is professional. He is successful. His players graduate and attend fine schools across the country. The insinuation of his lack of concern or care appalled me. I knew of the young man in question and actually had evaluated his high school tape. The level at which his coach suggested he could play was very accurate. The bottom line is that no one individual, such as a high school coach or anyone else for that matter, can “get you a scholarship.” The high school coach can present a prospect's academic and athletic credentials to a particular college and vouch for his character, but beyond this point, the athlete's fate lies in the hands of the recruiter.

My suggestions to you, the high school coach, are:

1. Begin the process of educating athletes and parents as early as possible
    A. From an academic standpoint
    B. From an athletic standpoint

2. Expose athletes to collegiate football
    A. As a motivator, but not as a distraction
    B. Emphasize those collegiate stand-outs who have had success in the classroom.

3. Distribute copies of the N.C.A.A. Guidelines to parents and athletes.

4. Interview each athlete on a yearly basis
    A. Communicate with parents concerns that may occur as a result of the interview.
    B. Be candid when interviewing your player; do not cause false expectations.

5. If possible, have a collegiate coach speak to your parents booster club. He can relate the academic and athletic standards of college football. If you do have a blue-chip prospect, I would meet with his parents as early as possible to get a feel for his eventual choices. These situations can prove to be time consuming, but I know they will pay dividends in your community and with your principal and athletic director.

The bottom line, as you well know, comes down to “what is best for the student-athlete.”

(Bob Chmiel was the Recruiting Coordinator for both Bo Schembechler at Michigan and Lou Holtz at Notre Dame...he will periodically offer his insights exclusively to AFM on the various aspects of recruiting.)