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What Are College Coaches Looking For When Recruiting High School Athletes?


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We surveyed hundreds of college coaches across all divisions to help high school coaches and athletes understand what college coaches are looking for on the recruiting trail.

After analyzing across all divisions, the top responses were athleticism and play-making from the highlight tape.  It seems that the best way to get noticed by a college program is to put together an impressive highlight tape.

On a scale from 1-10 how important are the following traits when recruiting athletes?

 
Note: these numbers are averages and we found coaches at all divisions had wide ranging preferences.

Note: these numbers are averages and we found coaches at all divisions had wide ranging preferences.

 

College football coaches recommend putting your best play first, your second best play second, and so on. Stop the tape when the plays stop being amazing. D1 college coaches get dozens of highlight tapes sent to them every day, they don’t have the time to watch them all, but will often view the first few clips before deciding to move on or keep watching.  Read our tips for creating a good highlight tape here: Tips For a Good Highlight Tape.

Leadership was the next highest rated attribute. College coaches said they prefer to take players that are captains of their high school team. It is usually a good sign when the people who work with the players everyday (athletes and coaches on their HS team) selected the player as a leader.

 
 

The other highest rated response for all divisions (except for JUCO’s) was grades. We specifically asked coaches to rate the importance of grades beyond admissions requirements. That means that if the school’s minimum academic requirement is a 2.5 GPA, coaches are looking for more than that. Good grades are a sign of maturity and that the player takes his school work seriously. Those attributes will help make the athlete successful on and off the field.  Read our article on the Importance of Academics During Recruiting to learn more.

There were some differences among divisions as well. D1 coaches cared more about athleticism, height/weight, and speed than other coaches. Those are generally characteristics of developmental players. D1 coaches are the most likely to take a player with the raw skill set and try to turn him into a great football player.

D2/NAIA coaches especially want to recruit athletes with good grades. In the world of partial scholarships, grades and academic scholarships can make a big difference in helping close the gap between the cost of attendance and the value of the athletic scholarship.  

D3 coaches put more emphasis on character qualities. They listed leadership, grades, and HS coach recommendation as the top three responses and cared the least about strength, speed, and highlight tapes.

The three least important traits according to college coaches are HS stats, strength, and speed. Although, as noted above, speed was much more important to D1 coaches than to coaches in any other division.


If you find our recruiting content at Verified Athletics valuable, there are many ways you can support it. You can share it on social media with your friends using the icons below, you can blog about it or discuss it on your own media platforms, or you can support it directly by visiting and donating at our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/verifiedathletics

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