Lessons from Hart's hoax (cont.)
Posted: Monday February 11, 2008 3:08PM; Updated: Monday February 11, 2008 4:43PM
Tip No. 2: Answer the phone
No college coach will risk a valuable scholarship -- or his job, for that matter -- on a player without first asking a few questions of the people who know the player best. While the NCAA limits how often a coach can speak to a player, it places no limit on how often a college recruiter can speak with the player's high school coach. Most college coaches also will quiz teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators to ensure they aren't inviting a potential ax murderer to take up residence on their campus. Obviously, the recruiter also will contact the player's parents or guardian. They need all the information they can get.
"If it's a legitimate offer that they're going to follow through on, it's going to come from the head coach," Hornback said. "And you can get it in writing." That may not guarantee the school will honor the scholarship, but it should provide some piece of mind.
Tip No. 3: Keep your checkbook in your wallet
When Hart's story began to fall apart, it still seemed semi-believable because he claimed he'd been scammed by someone acting as a middleman. This isn't that far-fetched. There are people out there who charge parents hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars with the promise of connecting their son with schools looking for players just like him. This isn't necessary.
If you know a good A/V club nerd, a little bit of postage is all you should have to pay. If your son's high school coach isn't doing this already, make a DVD or CD-Rom (highlights for skill-position players, the best one or two full games for linemen) and send it to the recruiting coordinators of the schools that look interesting. College coaches do actually watch that stuff because they don't want to be the guy who missed the diamond in the rough.
Additionally, Hornback said parents and coaches can fill out a form and upload video to Rivals.com. The company will evaluate the video, and if the player looks like a Division I prospect, Rivals will include the player in its database. Every football program in the country subscribes to Rivals and Scout.com, and the schools who can't afford to send their coaches across the country will use the sites to find players they may want to evaluate further.
Hornback advises making contact with schools in your region. If you have a low I-A or I-AA prospect in the Heartland, he said, don't expect a school in California to see his video and immediately offer a full ride. Remember, most schools have to pinch pennies, and all things equal, an in-state player's scholarship costs less than an out-of-state player's scholarship.
Tip No. 4: Understand your kid's limitations
You might think your son is Johnny Unitas, Abraham Lincoln and Brad Pitt rolled into one, but college coaches will take a more objective view. It's quite possible your son isn't Penn State or Georgia material. It's possible he isn't Youngstown State or Georgia Southern material. Instead of getting angry, try to find the level where your son realistically fits. Had someone done that for Kevin Hart, the entire mess might have been avoided. At 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, Hart probably would have drawn interest from Division I-AA and Division II schools. Depending on his quickness, he also might have earned a walk-on spot at a Division I-A school.
College coaches typically will be brutally honest in their assessments. If they receive your son's video and send a form letter wishing him the best of luck in his career, they don't think he's good enough. It may crush your kid's ego to learn he doesn't fit that category, but life is full of harsh realizations. It's better for his bubble to burst in private than after a real press conference for a fake commitment.
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