Recruiting analysts and coaches rage about what it takes to be the perfect recruit. Recruiting is an inexact science to say the least due to its subjective nature and the wide margin for error that characterizes the talent evaluation process. But there are 5 nonnegotiable traits that the smart recruiter sees before an offer is issued.
Baseline level of skill/talent – the recruit must possess a level of talent which will enable him to successfully compete on the level to which he is being recruited. What the everyday fan needs understand is that talent is not a coachable commodity. Height, body structure/frame, speed, hand-eye coordination and arm strength are just a few of the talents that are not coachable abilities that set apart an elite recruit from a good high school athlete.
Character/will to win – The character of an athlete is the second step in the evaluation process but is one of the key predictors of the success or failure of each recruit. Character measures two things. First, is decision-making ability and second is the ability to develop mental toughness which allows the individual to respond effectively to adversity. These qualities effect the athlete’s ability to develop into a championship level performer and effective team member.
Academic Eligibility – this one is simple. You can’t play if you can’t get into school. I hear players all the time, in reference to college coaches, “He sleepin’ on me.” No, son, he’s sleeping on your 1.8 GPA. Get serious about your school work if you want to be taken serious as a prospective student-athlete.
Durability – do not mistake durability for toughness. Toughness is the ability to play through pain which is linked to character mentioned above. Durability is the ability not to be easily injured. Unfortunately, some athletes who are incredibly tough are not very durable. This is a physiological issue and is usually out of human control.
Football IQ/Instinct – this is the ability to understand the game at a very high level and to react on a level that is faster than human thought can process on a verbal level. Therefore, we refer to it as Instinct. It’s the great cut made by a Running back or the perfect pass by a Quarterback under heavy pressure. Just watch Lamar Jackson run or Tom Brady make a perfect throw and you will get the picture.
These are five characteristics that coaches look for when evaluating a recruit. It should be noted that the ability to properly and objectively evaluate athletes is the rarest ability in coaches. One example is that of character. A coach with poor personal character will often recruit players of the same character and vice versa. Rest assured a lack of character will eventually raise its’ ugly head. It is why football is such a beautiful game; because it’s a microcosm of life. And that’s what separates champions from contenders on the field and in life.