10 Things I Learned About College Recruiting – Part 1

Today my guest post is by my business partner, Bahram Shirazi.  He writes this article from the viewpoint of a parent having gone through the college recruiting process.

By Bahram Shirazi (BSEE, MBA, Dad and Co-owner at RPP)

College LettersAs a parent who has gone through the college recruiting process I can tell you this, it’s a maze with no roadmap.  There are so many different topics, and there is really no one telling you what to do, or what’s right and/or what’s wrong.  I am by no means an expert, but I did learn a few valuable things along the way and for the record, most of my knowledge revolves around D1 and D3 programs.  So with that said, here are the top 10 things I learned about college recruiting (Part 1 of 2).

The Recruiting Math – College baseball programs have limits on the size of the roster and the number of scholarships allowed per program.  Here is a quick summary:

Scholarhips Roster Size

I will cover scholarships in a later section but with respect to roster size, in any given year, many of these spots are already taken by sophomores, juniors and seniors.  If you make some basic assumptions it boils down to the following # of openings per program (you can fine tune this further if you assume lefty/righty for pitchers, or corner/middle infield, etc.):

Openings Per Program

The numbers may vary in any given year as different programs have different needs based on their specific situations.  These are approximate at best, but I think the numbers give you a good idea for the math.

Rankings Don’t Matter – Throughout the recruiting process you keep hearing about rankings, rankings, rankings. Let me tell you, rankings don’t matter.  I know it’s hard for most players to accept this with Perfect Game and other sources constantly putting out rankings.  It feels good to be ranked.  It feeds the ego for both parents and players.  But believe me when I tell you, although all coaches subscribe to these services to gain access to information, they want to see you in person, on the field, playing the game.  So, my suggestion is “ignore the rankings, play hard and stick to your game”.

Coaches want to see for themselves and reach their own conclusions.  What one coach may absolutely love about your mechanics, another one may hate it.  If your rankings aren’t what you’d like them to be, but you hustle and play the game the right way in front of the coaching staff the rest becomes irrelevant.  Of course, it helps if you hit and/or pitch well when they are watching!

PG Rankings 2

Choosing a School/Program – Here is some simple advice, pick the kids first, the college second, and the coach last. That may sound backwards but as you go through the recruiting process keep in mind that your happiness is #1.  If you aren’t happy nothing else matters.  Since you spend most of your time with the other players, try to get a sense for the type of kids the school attracts.  Speak with existing players at the school during the visit.  Do you think you would fit in with them?  Do they seem like decent and friendly kids?

Although you have to like the coach, I list that criteria as 3rd, only because college coaches are constantly moving around from school to school.  There is good chance that there will be a coaching change during your time at the school.  Others may disagree with me on this topic, but given that unknown you better like the rest of it.  My son’s college coach, the one that recruited him, announced he was leaving the first week of his freshmen year.  The new coach started the process with running an open tryout.

Recruiting is Moving Down in Grade – NCAA has many rules of conduct, including when and how a coach may reach out to a player, by phone, email, text or otherwise. If you ask me it’s silly because coaches get around these rules all the time. For example, officially you can’t really commit to a D1 program until your senior year when you sign your National Letter of Intent (NLI), yet players are announcing verbal commitments all the way down to middle school years. How does that work?!!  A coach can’t reach out to a middle school player but middle school players are announcing verbal commitments!  Well, a verbal commitment is exactly that a “verbal commitment” between you and the head coach.  If the coach leaves before you sign your commitment papers (D1 and D2) or receive your admissions notice (D3) during your senior year a verbal commitment is just that, verbal.

Needless to say, recruiting earlier and earlier is putting everyone, including coaches, in a difficult spot. Players are worried that there will be fewer and fewer spots as they go up in grade.  Coaches are worried that the better players are getting picked up earlier by other schools.  It’s putting everyone in a tough spot.   A coach can easily rescind a verbal commitment if he believes that your commitment to the game is not what it used to be, or your aren’t developing as well as he had expected.  One more thing, signing an NLI is not a four year commitment.  The program can cancel your athletic scholarship any given year (more on this later).

So, think long and hard before making a commitment. If it’s your only offer and you don’t like it then keep looking.  Transferring out after your Freshmen year isn’t fun. You only go to college once.  It’s a lifetime experience.  Do NOT get caught up in the excitement of the moment.  Do your research, ask your questions and commit with both eyes wide open.

College Baseball Camps – After showcases, college camps are probably the next best dollar spent. Just about every major college program offers a baseball camp.  They are usually in the summer and/or fall and you can generally find all the info about the camp on the school website.

College Camps

What most parents and players don’t realize is that college baseball camps often have coaches from other schools helping them run the camp (and obviously observing).  So, you can get looks from more than one school at college camps.  The Stanford Camp on the west coast (probably one of the best college camps in the country) has over 30 college coaches attend the 3-day event.

Generally, the school/camp websites often lists the other schools attending.  If you have a high level of interest in a school and are having difficulty reaching the coach, you should go to their camp.  Some schools mostly recruit from their camps.  I remember one school specifically stating that over 60% of their players come from their camps. 

Please stay tuned for Part 2, where I will cover 5 more things I learned about the baseball college recruiting process.


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