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Advice to a Prospect from Small School


So far so good for Eastwood High School’s sophomore running back Jaden Rayford. I wrote about him as a freshman. He played for a D5 football program. I liked his unselfish attitude. If he keeps working hard, he has the potential to be a D1 prospect. And, honestly, I had his mother in school and respect what she has done with him.

Coming from a D5 football program ( a very successful one), does not make it easy to get recognized as a D1 scholarship prospect. D2 is much easier, but D1 prospects have to be special. D3, if you have the grades and money, no problem.

The purpose of this blog is not so much to get Jaden exposure, but more so to give a smaller high school player some clues on what to expect in the recruiting process.

A college coach will ask these questions literally every time, when considering a smaller school football prospect.

  1. First question – Level of competition?
  2. Second question – Size and speed and athleticism
  3. Third question – Grades?
  4. Fourth question – Can he get to camp?
  5. Fifth question – Are statistics available?
  6. Sixth question – Are you on HUDL ?

1. Eastwood plays in a D4-D5 conference in Northwest Ohio. Few D1 schools in Northwest. The conference plays sound football, but has few D1 prospects. Eastwood plays a tougher out of league schedule. This year – they were State Runners-up. The key for Rayford, since he plays for a D5 school is to dominate from his RB position. He rushed for 2,205 yards on 352 carries. Scored 36 TD’s. Regardless of position, a smaller school program player must “dominate!”

2. Rayford measures 6’0-195. Needs to get faster, but he will run on Eastwood’s state ranked 4×100 and 4×200 meter relay teams. Missed going to state meet in the long jump by one place. Last year, as a freshman, he jumped over 21 feet. Does not play basketball, in favor of indoor track. Needs to come out of track running a 4.6 every time he runs the 40. Not his high school coach’s watch.

3. Rayford carries a 2.8 in the classroom. Needs to understand core classes. Needs to get an early ACT test in, just to see where he ranks and get an idea of early scores. Really needs to be sure to understand the NCAA Eligibility Center. Sometimes guidance offices miss this early.

4. Needs to get to a few college camps this summer. Needs to be careful not to go too big too often. By that, I mean go to Ohio State’s One Day camp for exposure. Go to some MAC school camps to understand the college camp process. Needs to spend a lot of time learning what is expected of a D1 prospect. His junior year will be huge. To me the junior year camps are the “show time” camps.

5. Needs to be sure all of his statistics are available to college coaches. Longest run last year – 76 yards. State Championship Game – 145 yards on 30 carries and 2 TD’s. As I mentioned earlier just over 2,200 yards rushing for the season. Don’t make stats a big thing, but have them ready to give to college people.

6. I really believe a good HUDL HI-lites video is important as a sophomore. 25-30 plays. Some college coaches may not look at it right away, but, usually a support staff person will, especially if you have made the radar screen. Be sure to have two really good game videos available. In Jaden’s case, the State Championship Game would be one for real.

Although each individual player’s case is different, I would be very skeptical of recruiting services who want to charge a large fee to help  with recruiting process and get your name in front of college football programs. In Jaden’s case, I would not do it.

Finally, I would tell Jaden Rayford just to be himself as he begins the recruiting process. Players in smaller schools make the papers every Saturday morning. The talk of the small town. Local hero. Important to get into college camps just to see what’s out there. See what the big school competition looks like, plays like, and competes like. Be yourself, but be a good self.



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