Dear Coach Bryant:

Since Division I has extended its recruiting dead period to April 16, is there any way my high school athlete can be recruited now? With coaches unable to meet with us or attend events, we’re wondering if our child should just plan on taking a gap year.

Are there any other options? Is there any way we can get seen?

Feeling Invisible

Dear Invisible:

There are ways your student athlete can get seen, even during this extended dead period. While the techniques I outline below will require your athlete to be more assertive than ever, I can tell you that coaches will welcome such efforts. Those of us trying to recruit during this strange time need as much help as recruits and parents do! Much of the following “expansion” guide, tailored to this year’s challenges, will also apply to parents preparing freshmen and sophomores for their future college search, too:

Expand your target.

Division I is not your child’s only option. Divisions II and III are not in a dead period; those coaches can actively recruit. But, keep in mind that some DII and III schools are limiting travel, forcing coaches to self-fund their trips and/or refrain from wearing school colors at events. That means expanding your target will likely require contacting those coaches to find out how they are recruiting now.

Expand your methods.

Expand your portfolio. I’ve always advised parents to collect video footage of everything their child does, starting their sophomore year. This year I’m advising parents to expand those efforts. While most high school athletic events are still happening, I would encourage athletes to expand their playing time (and video portfolio) via summer league sports, too.

Expand your contacts.

A college search is much like a job search. It is the recruit’s responsibility to contact coaches. Students who persevere in both their contacts and “interview” preparation are most likely to get on a coach’s short list. Coaches know that students who show initiative in their contact with coaches are more likely to show initiative on the court/field.

The Reality

Even without a pandemic, only seven percent of high school athletes will go on to play in college. Only two percent will play in Division I. Those who do play are not always the most talented athletes, but the most determined to reach their goals. That’s why I encourage students and their parents to look for any opportunity to gain a coach’s attention. Your child need not take a gap year. Your child need not be invisible. If he/she is willing to go through this “expansion” process, your athlete will get a jump start on the sort of perseverance, patience and initiative coaches seek to instill in their athletes – character qualities that pay inestimable dividends for years to come. 

Additionally my March 2020 post might be particularly helpful, as it addresses new recruiting game plans, virtual tools and more.