College Recruiting: Kick-Off the New Year

College Recruiting: Kick-Off the New Year

By Tom Kovic

A New Year is upon us and opportunity lurks. Those who organize best, execute well-developed plans, and beat the bushes will maximize their success in college recruiting. You can create change, make new commitments, and clean the slate and kick-off the New Year on a high note. Below is a list of recruiting tips that current prospective student-athletes can use in maximizing the college search in 2021.

The early admissions and early signing periods are behind you. If you were not picked up in admissions or offered an athletic scholarship you now have new life in the regular decision and regular signing periods.

Will the regular recruiting period be competitive? Yes. Will there be plentiful opportunities? No. Avoid focusing on recent missed opportunity. Instead, re-group and control your playing field between now and May 1. Cast a narrow net in selecting the colleges you will pursue and focus on the following:

  • Meet all admissions application deadlines.
  • Update your player profile with any pertinent academic and athletic information.
  • Edit your recruiting highlight video with “impact” footage.
  • Connect regularly with the coaches and avoid incommunicado.
  • Ask your club or high school coach to reach out on your behalf to speak directly with the college coaches.

Your strategy should be vigorous. Provide the coaches with the unique resources to help them see you in a new and unique light that will convince them to recruit you more earnestly.

College coaches are now in hot pursuit of junior prospects. Now is the time for dedication, action, and building momentum. Junior prospects should remain highly visible on the college coach’s radar. Provide coaches with regular updates (both academic and athletic) and make the job of evaluation simple for the college coaches.

If you are that blue-chip kid that many of the college coaches are pursuing, you are not going to run into too many college recruiting hurdles. If, on the other hand, you are the kid in the “B” file of prospects, you need to go above and beyond to remain competitive with the other prospects in that file. Focus on the following:

  • Update your highlight video with new highlights that will get the attention of the coaches.
  • Be sure you are on target academically and registered for and preparing for standardized testing.
  • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
  • Line up Zoom meetings with the college coaches and interact on a personal level. It is OK to take a “foot in the door” approach. This will help separate you from the rest of the pack.

Re-assess your recruiting strategy and look at the “end game.” Identify your primary goal in the recruiting process and use it as your catalyst. From here, work backward and identify working targets, each building from one to the next until you reach your present point of reference. Now start from your new “launch point” and surge forward and work the plan, one brick at a time.

Sophomore prospects should continue to learn the new language of college recruiting. The college search for athletes has accelerated to a mind-bending rate and one way to keep pace is to embrace and understand it.

Also, the education of the prospect and family is crucial to the rate of success in college recruiting. Lift-off is the most demanding part of any worthy project, where time and energy are used at a premium. Focus on the following:

  • Develop a cliff notes version of NCAA rules and procedures. Go to the NCAA website ( and download the recruiting manuals and pay close attention to the chapters on recruiting, financial aid, and eligibility.
  • Put yourself down on paper by creating a 1-page personal profile and developing a 4-5 minute highlight video.
  • Do a self-evaluation (I have a great 10 question assessment I ask all my students to answer before we launch) and get a grip on what you are potentially looking for in the college experience.
  • Develop a diverse group of 20-25 colleges (D-1, 2, 3) and locate the home and athletic websites of each school. Poke around and get a feel for the different institutions.

We remain hampered by the current pandemic. Recruiting momentum has, in many cases stalled, yet the start of 2021 presents new opportunities. Developing a positive mental approach will serve you best in the college search. In the final analysis, you want to create a clean slate and kick-off the New Year with a well-designed college recruiting plan of action.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and Founder/Principal of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises prospects and families on college recruiting. For further information visit:

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