December 4 - Several fractures exist in the current recruiting landscape. One that’s an easy fix is for college coaches to re-establish a dialogue with the baseball figure who spends the most time around their recruit … his high school coach.
I’ve heard of and been witness to several instances over the past few years of players making college commitments without their high school coach getting so much as a phone call or email from anyone from the coaching staff at the institution they’re committing to. What? Why? How can that be?
I should preface this column by stating that I’m a travel - or “showcase” - coach and generally work with sophomores, juniors and seniors. I enjoy and embrace the recruiting process, establishing a dialogue with college coaches who are interested in guys who play for me, but always make a point to suggest they also contact his high school coach. I’m around the recruit 2-3 days a week for 7-8 weeks in the summer and/or fall. His high school coach is with him six days a week for over three months each spring, and then a number of times during offseason workouts and practices.
Who is going to have the better perspective? The answer is easy.
A player’s high school coach is a resource that has, unfortunately, become under-utilized during the rise of the travel and showcase circuit. It’s great that college coaches lean on a player’s summer or fall coach - many are very qualified and can give great insight - but what’s the drawback in also involving his high school coach?
An incoming recruit is an investment a coach, program and an institution are making, potentially with a coach’s job security on the line. Would you buy a used car without running a CARFAX check and taking it for a test drive? Committing a player based on one outing or weekend at a showcase event is like backing the car out of the parking spot, then re-parking and signing the papers. If it’s been a couple years since you’ve purchased a new pair of jeans, would you buy them without trying them on, knowing you’ve added a few pounds to the waist line? If so, be sure to hold onto your receipt.
Speaking with a high school coach can calm any doubts you may have about him on the field, and can better answer any questions you may have about him off the field … especially if the high school coach works at his school and is around him in an academic and social environment.
I have coaching buddies who have been at it for decades - have won state championships - and yet don’t get a call during the recruiting process. I’ve heard of kids who hit under .250 over a 20-25 game high school season getting scholarships based on them getting hot for one game or weekend at a showcase event. And of pitchers who struggle to get through more than a couple innings against competition in the spring, then hit a certain velocity and strike a few guys out in a summer outing … and they get an offer based on that.
It hurts trust and relationships between high school and college coaches, yields incomplete assessments of players, and in general, simply isn’t a professional way of going about one’s business.
There needs to be some sweeping changes in the recruiting game - and some are on the way via the NCAA, from what I’ve been told - but this one is an easy fix that can be made by the college coaches themselves.
Make the call.