As a sports writer, analyst, and recruiting expert I have student-athletes reach out to me every day asking for help in the recruiting process. The most common question I get–BY FAR–is this:
How can I get more/better exposure?
It’s a good question, and the answer is mostly what you would expect: play well, share your highlights, and connect with coaches. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Obviously the best thing you can do to increase your exposure is to play football at an extremely high level. When you score eight touchdowns in a game people will notice. But what if you’re from a small school? Or you’re undersized? Or you play a less glamorous position? Or your coach doesn’t like you? Or you… You get the idea. Here are five sure-fire ways to increase your exposure today, and to do it in the right way.
1. Highlight Video. This is listed first because, while it might seem obvious, it is still the best way to get coaches and recruiting coordinators to notice you. And it’s really easy to do. If you don’t already have one, you should go ASAP to www.HUDL.com and sign up for your free profile. They have some great tutorials on how to set up a great highlight video, but here are a few general rules of thumb:
- keep it short, 3-5 minutes max
- put your best plays first. Assume the coaches will only watch the first 1-2 plays. If that first 15-30 seconds is amazing they might watch more, but most will only watch the first few plays. If you choose to include a slide with stats and recognition keep it short (or put it at the end) so they can see you play.
- don’t do anything fancy (no slow or fast-motion, music, etc.).
Once you have a killer highlight video make sure you’re sharing it across social media and that your high school coaches have it so they can share it with their contacts. Having additional videos and game film online is nice, but having one great highlight video is the most important thing.
2. Player profile. You need a player profile online so that you have something to show the coaches. You should display your highlight video, your measurables (e.g. 40 time, bench, etc.), your recognition and playing statistics… but only if they set you apart from the crowd. If you have a 2.8 GPA, leave that one off. If you are a wide receiver and your 40 times is 4.9 then skip that as well. Focus on what you do well.
And here’s the good news: If you already set up a HUDL account then you’ve already accomplished this step. Again, just make sure that you have only posted those things that make you look good… leave the other fields blank. Also, if you’re a very highly rated recruit you likely already have a profile listed on Scout.com, Rivals.com, or ESPN.
In addition to those places it is o.k. and generally a good idea to have one other player profile online somewhere. This will help you in google search rankings when someone hears about you and then googles you to find out more information. There are a lot of places that will post your profile for free, including:
These are just a few of many sites online that will post your player profile. But here’s a heads up… Most of these “free” sites are not actually free. Indeed, nearly all the “free” sites that let you submit a player profile actually require coaches and recruiters to be subscribers of their service to gain access to your profile and/or require you to pay a fee to make your profile publicly available. That means that you can complete your player profile free of charge, but no one will be allowed to see it unless you pay. They trick you into filling out their submission form so that you are invested and more willing to pay for their services.
And then of course there are services that charge for a profile and tell you that up front. These services are more likely to give full access to all coaches and make your profile public with no strings attached. The advantage of going the paid route is that they are typically more comprehensive (include more stuff), easier to access, and easier to share with coaches. At D1 Recruiting we pride ourselves on offering the best profile pages out there at a reasonable price, but if you don’t want to shell out a few bucks then go the free route.
A word of caution… I would NOT recommend that you set up accounts at all or even several websites. Just do one (which should probably be HUDL), or maybe two, but no more than that. If you have too many online profiles then it makes it difficult for the coaches who are actually searching for you online to find the right one (e.g. the one you most want them to see).
3. Social media. I’ll be honest… usually social media does more harm than good. If your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram account has profanity, nudity, or anything else that demeans you or others, then I would not share it with coaches and recruiters (or have it at all). I know of many more student athletes that were passed over because of their social media accounts than those who were discovered by them.
That said, social media can absolutely help with exposure. If you are “on the bubble” for a particular school, sending out highlight videos, game summaries and statistics, and special awards and acknowledgements might be just what you need to get a coach’s attention.
Keep your profiles simple and centered on football. For example, your Twitter bio might read something like this:
Coolname HS | RB/CB | c/o ’18 | #ESPN300 | Nike Opening Finalist | 6’2″ 210 | #21
Notice that the search terms that coaches and recruiters might be looking for show up in this example. Things you might want to include are:
- Graduating Class (i.e. c/o ’19, or Class of 2019)
- Position (QB or Quarterback, ILB or linebacker, etc.)
- General location (Las Vegas, NV or Nevada)… you can also simply list this in your location for Twitter
- Special awards or recognition (All-State first-team, ESPN 300)
- Height and Weight, but only if this will make you stand out for the right reasons (e.g. TE, 6’7″ 240), if you are a 210 pound o-lineman you can just leave that part off.
Once you have a solid profile start “following” the key people from the schools you are interested in (coaches, recruiting coordinators, etc.). They likely won’t follow you back but following them will help you keep abreast of what is happening at that school. And they are more likely to follow you IF they hear about you in some other way and you are already following them.
When you tweet or share your accomplishments on social media do so without being pushy or overbearing. No coach likes getting repeated DMs from recruits that want them to see their highlights that they update each week. Tweeting or DMing a coach a few times a year is more than enough.
4. Reach out to college coaches. I already started talking about reaching out to coaches via social media, but remember that (social media promotion) is unlikely to do much for you. You need to actually reach out to college coaches so they know who you are.
That will probably start with a simple email or phone call. If you are an underclassmen then they can’t call you back so make sure that they have your info so they can reach or follow you in other ways (your email, your HUDL profile, etc.).
After you’ve made initial contact then consider making an “unofficial” visit to campus. If you go during the season you might be able to score tickets and a brief tour for you and your parents. If you don’t get special treatment then it is up to you to be a little more proactive. Let the coaches know that you’ll be there and that you’d like to meet them or someone else in the program. Coaches are busy but if you show you are willing to accommodate them and respect their time they will be more likely to accommodate you.
If all you do is watch a game it will make no difference. But if you meet someone involved in the program–even if it’s just an equipment manager–then there is the chance that one more person will be advocating for you. The more relationships and contacts you make with the school the better.
I actually wrote a short ebook about contacting college coaches. I’ll be revising, expanding, and putting it up on Amazon sometime soon, but in the meantime if you’d like a copy of the original version shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll hook you up.
5. Let other people help. Your high school coach can do a lot to help you in recruiting. College coaches want to maintain go relationships with all high school coaches because high school coaches may have a superstar down the road that that particular school really wants. Because the college coaches need to maintain these relationships in order to get a leg up on the competition for the top recruits, they are more likely to listen and respond to your coaches right now.
So let your coaches help. But you do that by helping them. Help them by getting good grades, setting up a highlight video and online portfolio, and having a great social media presence. Then you help them by going the extra mile at practice… not just on the field, but in helping with all the other little things that take coaches time (like picking up after you). Once you’ve done that, you help your coaches by letting them know which schools you’re interested and what you’re willing to do to land a D1 scholarship. At that point they will want to help you and they will be more willing to reach out to schools on your behalf.
And coaches aren’t the only people who can help. There are trainers, recruiting services, and others who have a financial incentive to help you. Normally I discourage student-athletes from seeking pros out–those who can’t afford it are better off being proactive and reaching out to schools on their own–but if you have opportunities to work with others it would be silly not to take advantage of those (within reason).
And let your parents help. They are the people most interested and invested in seeing you succeed in college and in life. They might not know everything about the recruiting process and/or football, but they know a lot about you and they care about you. Let them know your dreams and aspirations, share with them your successes and failures. And give them the time and respect that they deserve. Like your coaches, if you spend time helping your folks out they will be more likely to help you out. And you’ll be better off for it.
That’s it. Create a killer highlight video, post an online profile, have an effective social media account, reach out to coaches, and let others help you. Take action on these five steps and you’ll be instantly closer to landing a D1 scholarship offer to play football.
If this article was helpful for you could you do me a solid and share it with your friends. And if any of these steps worked for you post about it in the comment section below.