Stars, private jets, non-stop home visits, and sleepovers. College coaches are now willing to go to extreme measures to get that four-star or five-star recruit they’ve been eyeing for years, hoping to win their commitment or keep it. However it wasn’t always this difficult nor weird to get a top student-athlete’s word to attend your university. It use to be simple; a team’s coach will visit you often at school, send letters, keep in touch, and show you how much they truly want you at their institution. Everything was a lot more controlled, private, and didn’t require an update on social media the way it is today. A recruit could actually commit to a program and stick with that school, unlike today’s "After discussing it with family" note screenshot that you can find on Twitter. Now it seems like the players do more of the recruiting than playing and that really shakes up today’s programs.
Growing up playing football through high school I knew I had a talent. I played varsity as a freshman, sophomore I was a well-respected back up, and as a junior I became one of the top running backs in the nation. I handled my schoolwork, got a good SAT score my junior year, and was on track to graduate early from high school to take part of spring enrollment. Going through the recruiting process I realized two things: colleges played the most odd games when it came to who offers you first and if they don’t talk to you about your endeavors in the classroom, then they only want you for one thing (thanks mom). Having said that I was a proud commit to the University of Southern California in 2009 with excitement of joining coach Pete Carroll and running back’s coach Todd McNair. USC was such a familiar face, as they recruited two teammates and two close friends who all went to USC. I attended the Rising Stars Camp, hanged out with other recruits, and saw that I would clearly have to compete my way on the field. However besides the Annenberg Journalism program and the proud winning tradition USC possessed, my commitment came from the liking of coach Carroll and the man he was.
Pete Carroll made me feel like I was apart of USC before I signed my letter of intent and he really stressed the importance of family when he recruited me. Carroll knew that I wasn’t impressed by the flashiness of rings and trophies but loved my family, competition, and winning. Watching practice, going to games, and just hearing from them made me feel like this was the place to be and nothing could change that. Now here is a bit of advice for high school student-athletes going into college: Never commit based off of a coach. As the time flew by and I would prepare to enroll into USC, Carroll abruptly left without notifying many of his recruits. I was stuck in a position like no other, feeling as if I was left behind not knowing what was next. Quickly I made my decision to go to Cal Berkeley, whom stayed in constant contact with me and the rest is history. I did not need to make a public announcement about my decision nor did I leave a program trying to figure out what went wrong. My decisions were not made off of what was promised to me or told to me (one particular school told me and three other recruits the same exact thing), it was simply off of where I felt comfortable.
In a way schools too have to present themselves accordingly to gain interest from players and times have changed. However to offer numerous benefits and other things has now given student-athletes the ego that is not desired by college coaches. This is not a four star or five star player’s fault after he’s told how amazing he is and what he can get if he comes to a certain institution, he’s simply reacting to the pedestal he was put on as an athlete. Signing day no longer comes with the choosing of a school and signature but now a scripted video and an ESPN announcement. Humility is no longer required, just talent and a Twitter handle.