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Reply to "2014 Anxiety"

A lot of great feedback! 


Realistically, the clock is ticking and the next 4-6 weeks can be critical for many 2014 grads searching for Division I opportunities.  There will be Division I options for players throughout the fall and into next spring of course but those possibilities will narrow for sure as time unfolds, simply the faster pace of today's recruiting cycle.  One Division I head coach (mid-level program, very good academics, big conference) recently told a family I know that, ideally, he wants to be finished with recruiting by November...for the 2015 class! 


Again, the next month and a half can make or break the Division I prospects for many players as coaches sharpen their pencils one last time to snag key guys; and, with so many exposure events blanketing the circuit, coaches are spread thin and that can slow down some recruiting efforts as well.  With a national scope to recruiting, even at some small schools, coaches have the pick of the litter and that puts pressure on most everyone.  With Division I rosters now capped, players who may have earned Division I opportunities in the past are now trickling down to DII and DIII programs thus elevating the talent at those levels; in fact, I've seen a more aggressive approach by some DII and DIII coaches much earlier in the process this year than in the past (at least here in the Northeast).   


Make no mistake about it, we are at the stage of the recruiting journey where many final decisions will begin to develop between now and Labor Day (yes, there will be exceptions transpiring later, always have been) and players and parents should seriously begin to tweak their thinking and refine their recruiting plans for the home stretch---no retreat, no throwing in the towel, but shaping a much different vision of the college experience (baseball is only part of that experience) and targeting time, resources, and energies to make that vision a reality.   


Let's face it, many families will have to change their expectations (perhaps sooner rather than later), read the tea leafs a bit better, and embrace more firmly a mindset that focuses on a student-athlete's education first and foremost and (here's a novel idea) pursues a college baseball opportunity which actually offers a realistic chance to contribute.  Nearly 93% of high school senior baseball players won't play at any level of college baseball after high school according to the NCAA so competing at any level of college baseball is a tremendous accomplishment!  But we have a "baseball industry" now, something that didn't exist quite as much 10-15 years ago (the old timers can help me out on this)---nothing wrong with having an industry, my sons (and countless other players) benefited enormously because of it but, like any industry, BUYER BEWARE.  The hype that the industry fuels can bring even the most successful and educated family to its knees, very easy to go down paths that should never have been explored in the first place. 


It very often comes down to talent and roster needs, getting seen by the right audience, demonstrating consistent performance, reaching out to college coaches so they know you exist (this is particularly true with small schools)---many more factors to consider of course, and some families need to look themselves in the mirror and take an inventory of where they are in the process, what the student-athlete has to offer, and then revamp the plan before it is too late. My concern is that many families, due to exhaustion, inexperience, ego, or empty wallets will abandon the recruiting  journey prematurely, or take this next phase of that journey for granted by thinking that the DII and DIII coaches will be knocking down their doors, big mistake for many players. 


I've tutored players recruited by the baseball powerhouses to the academic elites at all levels and pretty much everything in between, and I know this---if you have talent, there is a program out there for you, probably not the ACC or SEC, maybe not even Division I.  At a regional showcase camp that I attended last week, about 50 players were on hand, over a dozen college coaches, the majority Division I---talking to the showcase organizer, he said that very, very few players in attendance were Division I types, some DII players were there, much more DIII talent on hand.  Here's the problem---I don't think many of the players know the truth (many likely received camp invitations in the mail a day or two later from some of the schools at the showcase), some may not want to hear the truth, and no one seems to be telling them anything particularly constructive. I believe that many of these players can find a college baseball opportunity which truly reflects their student-athlete profiles but they have zero direction, and many will likely fall through the cracks as a result. 


One last aid can be generous at many schools and there are other options, such as JUCO, to pursue if college costs are unbearable.  I see too many families putting so much focus on the baseball pursuit but little thought on "how are we going to pay for college?"  With schools now required to have a Net Price Calculator on their websites, families can do even more research upfront on how to afford a college education---and armed with that information alone can help many families target their recruiting efforts and college plans accordingly.