This is for all those high school athletes out there, along with your parents. How many of you want to play your chosen sport in college? How many of you have taken steps to do so?
Aha. There’s the catch. Unless you are one of those players who receive national attention, chances are colleges and universities around the country don’t know you or your accomplishments. For the most part, you need to let college coaches know about you.
Do you know how many times I’ve heard Peninsula Athletic League athletes say they were going to walk-on at such-and-such university? The reality is, it’s not that simple.
There are certain things high school athletes need to do to grab the attention of college coaches, the biggest of which is making sure your name is out there. Many athletes and their parents simply don’t know how the recruiting process works.
One football coach I talked to said one November, which is usually the first big signing day for high school athletes to officially choose their college, one of his top players came to him and asked if any colleges had sent over a letter-of-intent for this player to sign. The coach had to let this particular player know it didn’t quite work that way.
Luckily, there are a number of companies out there that can help athletes with the recruiting process. Terra Nova wide receiver Jaylend Jones is one who has decided to help increase his chances of recruitment by signing up with one of these services.
I won’t give out the specific name of the company because I don’t want this to be an advertisement for them and then have to do write-ups for all the other companies around here that offer these types of services. There are two here on the Peninsula of which I am aware and let’s leave it at that.
Jones has the numbers to play at the next level. In 15 games at the varsity level (2012 and four games this season), Jones has caught 92 passes for 1,256 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The one thing missing, however, were the eyeballs of college coaches. Jones spent his freshman year at a school in Ohio and had some interest from colleges. But when he moved to California, the process ground to a halt.
So Jones decided to sign up with this particular recruiting service and things have changed dramatically for his college prospects over the last year and a half.
“Midway through my junior year, I wasn’t really talking to anyone,” Jones said. “I couldn’t figure out what the factors were (keeping me getting recruited).
“My junior year was going by and I started getting pamphlets and getting invited to camps and coaches were asking, ‘Where is your film?’ I was like, ‘I don’t have that.’ (That’s when I thought) maybe I should get on top of that.”
But just signing with a recruiting service is the first — and easiest — step. Jones still needs to put in as much work on the recruiting process as he does on the field and in the classroom.
“Terra Nova has turned things around and is making a statement. We’ve won some big games. I think we’re starting to get the recognition we need (to attract the attention of college coaches),” Jones said. “But I also email 10 to 15 coaches a day. I’m trying to get my name out there.”
Jones said the service he uses walks all their clients through the process, providing all the contact information of coaches around the country and making sure all the proper paperwork is filled out.
Jones was apprehensive and skeptical at first.
“In the beginning, it was kind of awkward. ‘Is this really going to work?’” Jones said. “But the more I’ve been doing this and the more realistic I’ve been getting, I’ve been getting a lot of calls and emails.”
Jones knows a big-time football school will probably not come knocking on his door. He also knows, however, that if he wants to play football in college, there is a spot for him.
“Whatever pays for my education (is the goal),” Jones said. “I can’t really see myself not playing in college, even if it’s down to the NAIA level.”
And that’s the attitude every athlete needs to take if they want to play in college. You can’t just sit on the couch and expect college coaches to come knock on your door, or have unrealistic expectations. Much like the work you put on the field or court, you need to work hard to get yourself noticed.
The work is paying for Jones. He said he has been in constant contact with a few schools and plans on taking recruiting trips to these schools.
“I’ll do whatever it takes,” Jones said.