One parent's guide to navigating the recruiting process
On July 3, Elijah Zeise, a 6'2" wide receiver out of Wexford, Pa., committed to play for the University of Pittsburgh as part of the Panthers' 2014 class. With all congratulations due to Elijah, there's nothing particularly noteworthy about that.
So, why are we telling you this? Because Elijah's father, Paul Zeise, happens to be a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and he has used his experience to write a blog entitled "A Parents' Guide to Surviving the Recruiting Process". Whether you're a parent of a future recruit, or a coach looking to see what the recruiting process looks like on the other side, there's a lot in here for you.
Zeise breaks his advice down into 11 parts, but there were five major takeaways:
1) Be realistic. Don't waste your time and money chasing after schools that aren't interested in you.
When the recruiting process began, Zeise asked Elijah to write down his list of dream schools. One school on Elijah's list was Texas. After father explained to son that the Longhorns don't make a habit of recruiting three-star wide receivers from Pennsylvania, their efforts were focused elsewhere.
2) Never be afraid to know where you stand with a school.
"Here is the thing – coaches can be very vague," Zeise writes, "they can say things that they don’t necessarily mean AND (this is a big one) position coaches say a lot of stuff but unless you hear it from a coordinator or head coach, it doesn’t mean much. In order for a kid to get an offer at almost every place I’ve been to, the head coach has to sign off on it. So if you haven’t heard it from the head coach or coordinator and the words 'we are offering you a scholarship' aren’t said, then it probably isn’t an offer."
3) If you're fortunate enough to have options, don't be afraid to use them.
Elijah was recruited as a wide receiver and defensive back, but always wanted to play wide receiver. He was smart enough to not be pressured to play a position he really didn't want to play, even if he was intrigued by the school pursuing him as a defensive back. Smart coaches know that unhappy players are rarely productive players.
4) Be open-minded...
Like just about all of his peers, Elijah had his eyes set on a strong education and a big-time college football experience. His original list was Pittsburgh, Temple, West Virginia, Rutgers and Maryland. But knowing that, he took a visit to Old Dominion and was also intrigued by Cornell and Dartmouth, and strongly considered all three schools. In the end, he chose to stay close to home, but was wiser for the experience.
5)...but don't get emotional.
"I would say do not commit somewhere until you have left campus and are away from the coaches," Zeise writes. "I know this – when you are there they lay out the red carpet for you and tell you how great you are. But you need to get away from it and really dissect what you saw, heard and learned. Elijah would have committed to every place he visited had he let his emotions get the best of him but by leaving campus and going home he was able to make better decisions and separate the nonsense from the real."
Choosing a college is a decision that will transform your next four or five years and effect the rest of your life. Treat it that way.