Shaquille Ash wants to play Division I college football, and he knows his work isn’t done when his games are over.
Like many prospects for all levels of college football, the Columbus North middle linebacker goes to work dissecting game tape to find highlights to send to prospective coaches. It’s a way players are marketing themselves to play at the next level.
“After every game, I go back and watch through all the defensive plays and mark the ones I thought were good plays for me,” said Ash, who has talked to Ball State, Indiana University and Miami (Ohio). “I’d mark those and make my own highlight on our new Hudl account, and (North coach Tim Bless) gets them out to the (college) coaches.”
Columbus East coach Bob Gaddis said if a kid has an interest in playing college athletics, he’ll have a meeting with the athlete and his parents and determine a plan on how to market themselves. Gaddis finds out where the player would like to go and helps them make contact with those schools.
Gaddis said his players usually start with a list of about 20 schools, and that list expands to about 35. The meeting usually happens after a player’s sophomore season.
“We would hope now that by the time they’re seniors, they would have some idea who they’re going to be in communication with, and we advise them to go visit those schools over the summertime,” Gaddis said. “Basically, we encourage them to visit schools and make a list of schools and be proactive. We tell our kids if there’s anything they get from schools to open those lines of communication and get on their radar.”
East has the help of a video coordinator. Frank Anderson films the Olympians’ games and has a file of DVDs on current and former East players on the second floor of his tire dealership.
“When coach tells a kid they ought to be getting in touch with me, we give them a packet of forms and a DVD of each game,” Anderson said. “I keep the master of all the recruiting DVDs, and then we just keep (duplicating) off DVDs for the kids. That way, we’re all dealing with the same time frame. With the old VHS tapes, it was terrible because one player might be off five or six seconds from another player, but this way, it’s pretty exact.”
East and North both use the new Hudl software. Hudl is a Lincoln, Neb.-based company that acts as a middleman for coaches to exchange game film and allows coaches and video coordinators to put together highlight reels or send full game films of players.
“Now, you don’t have to send DVDs to colleges anymore,” Bless said. “You just send it via Hudl. The coaches don’t just want to see highlight video. They want to see full games. An average player can put together a highlight video. They want to see a full body of work.”
“Hudl looks like it’s going to have a real advantage of giving colleges instant looks as the season goes along,” Anderson said. “The potential of this thing is incredible.”
Anderson has files of players ranging from current New York Giant Stevie Brown to Division III and NAIA prospects. Brown, who played at Michigan, and current Notre Dame freshman quarterback Gunner Kiel were big-time recruits.
“Gunner’s dad Kip did a lot of his stuff using the process that we had developed at East,” Anderson said. “(IU freshman running back) Andrew Wilson and his dad put some stuff together his junior year. The first year, we sent just incredible numbers out of Stevie Brown.
“If a kid ends up at Hanover or Franklin or DePauw, it’s pretty much the same process,” he said. “It’s pretty much up to the kids to keep up the grades and the things it takes to get into these schools.”
Gaddis said Kiel began marketing himself as a sophomore and received his first scholarship offer before his junior season.
“He was in a unique situation,” Gaddis said. “We’ve had eight or nine Division I athletes, and it all happens differently.”
North senior offensive lineman Thomas Shoaf committed to BYU this summer after entertaining a few offers.
“The biggest thing that we did was just put together a highlight film,” Shoaf said. “Coach B is great in the fact that he takes care of most of that for us and also gives us advice on what we need to do to get that interest.”
“We’re in communication with the colleges who actively come in and recruit our building,” Bless said. “It’s our role to provide measurable information — academic and athletic — and provide game tape, etc. From the kids’ perspective, they need to be proactive in responding to any college inquiries and proactively follow the process.”
Gaddis tries to confine most of the recruiting process with his athletes to the offseason.
“During the season, we want them to focus on our season,” Gaddis said. “All of the recruiting should be done in the offseason. We’ll allow them to take one visit on a Saturday. We want them to be there with our team. A lot of the kids will make visits, but they’ll be on Saturday afternoons.”
Gaddis, who is also East’s athletic director, had meetings for football players and for all of the school’s athletes last year to talk about how the recruiting process works. He invites college scouts to come in on a night in the spring and observe his football players.
“Really, it’s an ongoing thing,” Gaddis said. “You need to open those lines of communications up early. We make that information available to recruiters so they can come by and see kids.”
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