How to get a college scholarship if you’re an overlooked senior

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OK, so you’re a high school senior and you want to play college football and you are looking for a football scholarship!
With national signing day just more than two months away, there is plenty of time to do something about it. And you can
do it on your own, without paying thousands of dollars to recruiting services.
All it takes is a little bit of hard work, a lot of determination and about $50. There are numerous stories of seniors who
landed last-minute scholarship offers after taking some initiative. Consider:
St. Louis Rams safety Corey Chavous had only one offer (Wofford) two months before signing day during his senior year
at Silver Bluff (S.C.) High. Chavous mailed out 10 highlight tapes and got 10 offers. He signed with Vanderbilt and is
finishing his 10th year in the NFL.
Auburn wide receiver Robert Dunn didn’t mail out highlight tapes until late December of his senior year at Laney High of
Augusta. He held off signing with South Carolina State on signing day and ended up with offers from Auburn and
Nebraska a week later.
North Gwinnett quarterback Mike Tamburo committed to Boise State after Tamburo’s coach mailed out highlight tapes of
the team’s seniors to 450 colleges on Sept. 1.
With that in mind, here are four easy steps to put yourself in the best position to be considered for an athletic scholarship:
1. Produce a highlight film
It always has been about —- and always will be about —- the film. Nothing, including glorified letters, personalized Web
sites or phone calls from family friends or boosters, means as much as film.
Film gives scouts the best opportunity to evaluate. The best type of film is a highlight tape, which will consist of the top 25-
35 plays combined from junior and senior years. Why not more? Most scouts will decide whether you’re good enough for
their program after watching only a few minutes, and if so, then they likely will request an entire game film [but not
always].
Computer programs with basic editing software cost less than $25, and a lot of people are skilled at editing.
Quick tip: Make sure to put the best plays at the front of the tape. Scouts go through hundreds of tapes a day, and time is
short.
2. Preparing the package
After preparing the tape, the next step is completing the rest of the package, which should include unofficial copies of high
school transcripts and SAT/ACT scores, which you can send to college once you take the exam.
Also include a simple page of “quick facts, ” which shows contact information, such as your mailing address, cellphone,
and e-mail address. It also can highlight football-related items, including height and weight, 40-yard dash times, positions
played, individual statistics, and athletic and academic honors. Jersey number and position should be taped to the DVD in
large block letters.
Quick tip: When mailing packages to colleges, save 50 percent in postage costs by requesting the “book rate.”
3. Picking the colleges
This is the part of the marketing process where most mistakes are made. Unknown prospects sometimes mail tapes
directly to schools like USC, Georgia or Notre Dame. You should at least have a few offer from smaller colleges (Div. II, IAA)
before targeting the “big boys.”
While there is nothing wrong with big dreams, there is a method to the recruiting madness: Start off with the smaller
schools and build leverage from there.
For each 10 tapes you send out, five should go to schools you think you are too good to play for; three should go to
schools you think you could play for, and two should go to schools you dream of playing for.
If you get an offer from Shorter College, then West Georgia or Morehouse may be willing to look at your film, and then
Georgia Southern and Georgia State, and so forth.
Quick tip: Target colleges from surrounding states (North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky) that
traditionally recruit the state very hard. Florida colleges may be a waste of time because they tend to stay in-state with
recruiting due to the tremendous amount of local prospects
4. Closing the deal
While the most important thing is the highlight tape, No. 2 is following up with colleges about 10-14 days after mailing the
packages.
College coaches have hundreds of DVDs on their desks, with many more waiting to be opened.
So think of it like applying for a job: To get noticed, you need to be persistent but polite with phone calls or e-mails.
Quick tip: E-mail addresses and work phones for specific college coaches and football offices can be looked up by clicking
here.
Note: When you get to particular school’s Web Site, search under “Athletics” and not “Football”, looking for a “Staff
Directory” or “Administration.” Here is an example with the University of South Carolina
FIVE QUESTIONS
1. To which person on the football staff do I send my tape? Either the recruiting coordinator or the position coach of the
position you feel you have the best chance of playing in college.
2. What if the college coach never answers when I call? Most don’t, therefore leave a voice mail. If they are interested in
you, they will return your call or e-mail you, providing you sent your contact information with the package.
3. Which is the better way of contacting coaches, e-mails or phone calls? Depends on the coach, therefore try both until
you figure it out.
4. What if there is no way I can make a highlight tape? Then send out a copy of your best game.
5. What if I’m a junior or sophomore? What should I be doing? If you’re a junior, sign up to take the ACT/SAT as many
times as possible for the remainder of this school year. If you qualify early, you will dramatically increase your chances for
a scholarship offer. You need to make sure you’re taking the proper classes to met NCAA college entrance requirements.
If you’re a junior or sophomore, focus on academics before a highlight tape. And if you do decide to mail out a tape, have
it ready to ship around Feb. 1, when colleges can concentrate 100-percent on next year’s recruiting class.

Note: This is a reprint from last year’s AJC, due to popular demand. If you have any questions, please post them below.

OK, so you’re a high school senior and you want to play college football and you are looking for a football scholarship?

With national signing day just more than six weeks away, there is plenty of time to do something about it. And you can do it on your own, without paying thousands of dollars to recruiting services.

All it takes is a little bit of hard work, a lot of determination and about $50. There are numerous stories of seniors who landed last-minute scholarship offers after taking some initiative. Consider:

Former NFL Pro Bowl safety Corey Chavous had only one offer (Wofford) two months before signing day during his senior year at Silver Bluff (S.C.) High. Chavous mailed out 10 highlight tapes and got 10 offers. He signed with Vanderbilt and played 12 years in the NFL.

Former Auburn wide receiver Robert Dunn didn’t mail out highlight tapes until late December of his senior year at Laney High of Augusta. He held off signing with South Carolina State on signing day and ended up with offers from Auburn and Nebraska a week later.

Last year, then-North Gwinnett quarterback Mike Tamburo committed to Boise State after Tamburo’s coach mailed out highlight tapes of the team’s seniors to 450 colleges on Sept. 1.

With that in mind, here are four easy steps to put yourself in the best position to be considered for an athletic scholarship:

1. Produce a highlight film

It always has been about —- and always will be about —- the film. Nothing, including glorified letters, personalized Websites or phone calls from family friends or boosters, means as much as film.

Film gives scouts the best opportunity to evaluate. The best type of film is a highlight tape, which will consist of the top 25-35 plays combined from junior and senior years. Why not more? Most scouts will decide whether you’re good enough for their program after watching only a few minutes, and if so, then they likely will request an entire game film [but not always]. Computer programs with basic editing software cost less than $25, and a lot of people are skilled at editing.

Quick tip: Make sure to put the best plays at the front of the tape. Scouts go through hundreds of tapes a day, and time is short.

2. Preparing the package

After preparing the tape, the next step is completing the rest of the package, which should include unofficial copies of high school transcripts and SAT/ACT scores, which you can send to college once you take the exam. Also include a simple page of “quick facts, ” which shows contact information, such as your mailing address, cellphone, and e-mail address. It also can highlight football-related items, including height and weight, 40-yard dash times, positions played, individual statistics, and athletic and academic honors. Jersey number and position should be taped to the DVD in large block letters.

Quick tip: When mailing packages to colleges, save 50 percent in postage costs by requesting the “book rate.”

3. Picking the colleges

This is the part of the marketing process where most mistakes are made. Unknown prospects sometimes mail tapes directly to schools like USC, Georgia or Notre Dame. You should at least have a few offer from smaller colleges (Div. II, IAA) before targeting the “big boys.” While there is nothing wrong with big dreams, there is a method to the recruiting madness: Start off with the smaller schools and build leverage from there. [Note: Bigger schools aren't necessarily better than smaller schools. You have to find the school -- regardless of size -- that is the best fit for you academically, athletically, socially, etc.]

For each 10 tapes you send out, five should go to schools you think you are too good to play for; three should go to schools you think you could play for, and two should go to schools you dream of playing for. If you get an offer from Shorter College, then West Georgia or Morehouse may be willing to look at your film, and then Georgia Southern and Georgia State, and so forth.

Quick tip: Target colleges from surrounding states (North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky) that traditionally recruit the state very hard. Florida colleges may be a waste of time because they tend to stay in-state with recruiting due to the tremendous amount of local prospects

4. Closing the deal

While the most important thing is the highlight tape, No. 2 is following up with colleges about 10-14 days after mailing the packages. College coaches have hundreds of DVDs on their desks, with many more waiting to be opened.

So think of it like applying for a job: To get noticed, you need to be persistent but polite with phone calls or e-mails.

Quick tip: E-mail addresses and work phones for specific college coaches and football offices can be looked up by clicking here.

Note: When you get to particular school’s Web Site, search under “Athletics” and not “Football”, looking for a “Staff Directory” or “Administration.” Here is an example with the University of South Carolina.

FIVE QUESTIONS

1. To which person on the football staff do I send my tape? Either the recruiting coordinator or the position coach of the position you feel you have the best chance of playing in college.

2. What if the college coach never answers when I call? Most don’t, therefore leave a voice mail. If they are interested in you, they will return your call or e-mail you, providing you sent your contact information with the package.

3. Which is the better way of contacting coaches, e-mails or phone calls? Depends on the coach, therefore try both until you figure it out.

4. What if there is no way I can make a highlight tape? Then send out a copy of your best game.

5. What if I’m a junior or sophomore? What should I be doing? If you’re a junior, sign up to take the ACT/SAT as many times as possible for the remainder of this school year. If you qualify early, you will dramatically increase your chances for a scholarship offer. You need to make sure you’re taking the proper classes to met NCAA college entrance requirements. If you’re a junior or sophomore, focus on academics before a highlight tape. And if you do decide to mail out a tape, have it ready to ship around Feb. 1, when colleges can concentrate 100-percent on next year’s recruiting class.

BOTTOM LINE

What if you do all of this and nothing happens? You still win. You’ve only invested minimal time and money. You won’t be spending the rest of your life wondering “What if.” Worst case, you have a highlight film to treasure for the rest of your life, to show your kids and grandkids, etc. However, many colleges, especially if you’ve shown so much aggressiveness and desire to play, are willing to offer you a “walk on” spot (non-scholarship) on the football team, with the opportunity to earn a scholarship in the future. Best case? You could be one of the lucky few to sign on the dotted line for scholarship papers in Feb.

9 comments Add your comment

chavous

December 23rd, 2009
12:39 pm

never knew that my Terriers nearly landed corey chavous! He’s trying to become the next Mel Kiper

RaleighDawg

December 24th, 2009
10:06 pm

Westlake’s (GA) Marcus Thornton and Tony Jacobs each scored 13 points to lead the Lions to a 53-47 win over Rice (NY) High in the Classic I final Tuesday. Thornton was named the Classic I bracket’s most valuable player and the Lions proved they could play against some of the best teams in the nation. Rice (NY) finished last season nationally ranked, is one of the top programs in the country and is ranked in the USA Today top 25.

http://www.allmetrosports.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=685:westlake-captures-chick-fil-a-classic-championship&catid=52:aau-basketball&Itemid=82

Rich

December 25th, 2009
12:10 am

When is the article about academic scholarship tips being printed?

Don KeBallz

December 25th, 2009
12:41 am

Rich, It won’t be found in the prep sports section genius…..

vanbad

December 25th, 2009
5:52 am

This is a good summary of the recruiting process we are going through with my oldest daughter.

For most students their contact with the college is the first time the school is going to look at you. You won’t be on there radar until you initiate the first contact. If you sit and wait for someone to contact you nothing will happen.

To Rich from above, D3 gives out academic scholarships. If you are interested in a careeer other than Sports Something this is the best route to take. IMHO

Making a highlight DVD is time consuming and requires a lot of experience. I’ll spend 20-40 hours making a highlight DVD. There’s a reason no experienced videographer will do it inexpensively.

RockytopATL

December 25th, 2009
9:10 am

Realize this is a year old, but it makes no mention of Youtube. It’s far more important in recruiting these days than “mailing” tapes.

andre bagley

December 25th, 2009
12:32 pm

i ended up witt 1500 yrds rushing and 2100 yrds all purpose and i also play receiver! but no college wants me causee of my wieght , i think this is a great oppertunity

Georgiapep

December 28th, 2009
9:41 am

Anyone need highlight video – In metro areas football highlight video – Bruce at candiddigitalsystems@yahoo.com – he does them for reasonable.

Joey

January 3rd, 2010
11:06 pm

What about a basketball player his senior year?