College Recruiting 101 – It’s Really Crazy, Y’all!

The hard thing about summer is not just dealing with the kids interrupting my writing for very important things like food, snacks, sodas and anything else they must have right now, but it’s the way I lose track of time. Like, say, this morning when I woke up with two thoughts in mind. “Scrubs!” “Blog!”

Thank goodness scrubs dry fast since I promised my hubbie I’d have them washed and folded, so I *almost* did that. And the other, of course, was this blog that I was supposed to type last night. But these crazy storms came through which led to all the animals freaking out, the kids piled on my bed and a rerun of Family Guy which meant I forgot about the blog. But never fear….I’m still here!

So I wanted to do a little excerpt from my book that should be on shelves near you…I hope. Never know with Walmart or Harlequin Distribution Center (or whatever they call it). But this book is special for a couple of reasons – it has no actual sex in it (in fact, it ends with Lou still a virgin), it has three POVs (a first for me) and it’s about college recruiting. Now, you may look at the idea of a book that revolves around college football as meh, but if you don’t know much about the craziness of recruting, well, you’re in for a treat.

Many of you know that I’m a LSU fan (no jibs here, you Razorbacks) and one of my favorite passions regarding the Tigers is the recruiting of potential players. It’s fascinating what a big business this has become. No longer is it word of mouth…oh, no. Now they actually have combines for high school athletes, not to mention, recruiting services that put together packages for the athletes. Can you say “MONEY!” It’s a big time business which is why there are so many regulations given out by the NCAA on recruiting. So what does this entail? Here’s how it might go for a kid:

Freshman/Sophomore year: You play good enough to generate some talk. A few college contact you to show interest (usually by letter)

Junior Year:  Attend Junior Days at several universities, make recrutiing highlight reel, sign up for multiple camps in the summer, find a 7 on 7 team, workout like a fiend to improve all times on 40 yd dash, bench press, etc.

Senior Year: If you have a 3-5 star ranking by places like Rivals or ESPN then you will endure one call a week from college coaches, visits to your highschool by coaches, official and unofficial visits where you’ll be wined and dined (but not with alcohol…or at least not where “they” aka NCAA can see it) And this lasts for a good six months until National Signing Day (first Tuesday in February)

It’s complex, exciting and terrifying for these KIDS and their families. It’s almost too much and for some of these recruits, the pressure is almost too much. So when I sat down to write a book about college football, I knew that the world of college recruiting was ripe for subject matter. So meet Waylon Boyd, my 6′ 3″ tight end prospect out of Bonnet Creek High School. He’s got 4 stars behind his name, mostly because he’s big, fast and plays like a tiger…or excuse me…a panther (didn’t use LSU – instead they’re the University of Louisiana, Baton Rouge Bayou Panthers) so he’s got lots of eyes on him with lots of expectations….including that of his own family. His older sister Lou is his gaurdian, and she never signed up for what happens with major recruiting, so everyone in the family – Lou, Lori and Waylon is struggling for balance. And for Waylon, well, he’s not sure he even wants it anymore.

“Well,” Lou said, picking up a throw blanket, folding it and tucking it away in the hollow ottoman. She also picked up a few soda cans and gum wrappers, tidying the house as was her habit every night before she went to bed. “I can understand not wanting things to change, but that’s how life is. It moves whether we want it to or not. But we have to remember, these programs wanting your brother is a good thing. Most guys only dream about what Waylon has.”

“What if I don’t want it anymore?”

Lou turned around to see her brother standing in the hall doorway, both hands braced against the doorframe. He looked big…and sort of sad. “You no longer want to play football?’

He shrugged. “Maybe I’m tired of it. Maybe I’m sick of being the school’s hero – everybody watching me, examining my grades, timing my runs. Maybe I want to be normal.”

Lou tossed the matching throw pillow onto the couch next to her sister – maybe a little harder than necessary. “Well, normal isn’t going out drinking and destroying other people’s property. It’s not lying to your family. Or failing American history tests. None of those things you’re doing are normal, Way.”

“Whatever,” he said, walking past her toward the kitchen.

So he was going to give her attitude after coming home in a cop car? No freaking way was he getting away with that kind of attitude. Lou followed her brother into the kitchen. “What is your problem, Waylon? You’re so close to getting everything you wanted and you’re trying to throw it away.”

He opened the refrigerator, pulled out the milk and took a swig straight from the carton because he knew it ticked her off. “Nothing’s wrong, and you don’t know what I want. No one ever asked me what I want. Maybe I don’t want to play football in college. I may not even go to college.”

“The hell you aren’t,” Lou walked over and plucked the carton from his hand. “And stop drinking from the carton. It’s gross.”

“You can’t make me go to college, and you can’t make me play football. I spend day and night lifting weights, doing cardio, and running drills. That doesn’t leave me time for anything else except homework and bed. Think I want to live that way? With no fun in my life?”

Lou tilted her head. “Oh, so you want to have fun?”

“Uh, yeah.”

Just a little glimpse into what it might be like dealing with that sort of pressure as a 16-17 year old kid. Has to be sorta wonderful and tough, huh? So when you were younger (or older) what kind of pressure did you feel exerted from areas in you life that you couldn’t control?

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8 Responses

  1. Liz, you had me at “tight end” 🙂 Great excerpt! Not a lot of pressure as a kid, but it was a different time back then. It’s a whole different ballgame now, and you’ve certainly tapped it.

    • I think you’re right, Pamela. Kids today have lots of pressure exerted by teachers, parents, friends, coaches, etc, that we didn’t have growing up. Oh, sure, we had our fair share of problems, but take athletics, for instance. When I was playing softball as a kid, I showed up to practice with just a glove. That’s it. No bag full of $400.00 bats, specialty gloves, sliding shorts, heat gear, batting helmets, etc. There was no speed training, pitching coach, expensive uniforms. I wore a t-shirt with a bag of groceries on it that said “Piggly Wiggly.” Oh, and tube socks with green stripes. It was groovy and simple…and fun.

      I watch my kids today and feel bad for them. They run from tutoring (so they have straight A’s) to piano lessons to pitching lessons to actual 2 hour practices then home for a sandwich, homework and bed…um, when do they get to have fun? Create? Daydream? Be bored? Maybe that should be in the schedule somewhere….

  2. Now I really can’t wait until it’s on a shelf near me.

    The only pressure I remember was about the ACT. It came from every direction. I did well enough to get into every college I applied to (and regret not attending any of them).

    One of the guys I graduated with received a huge scholarship because of his score. Although, he’d never taken it. He lied on the entrance exam that he filled out for fun. He never intended to actually go to college.

  3. Yes, I’m almost blushing because this summer I’m making my son work through the ACT prep book. Just three pages a week though. I’m trying to keep him on his toes a little. But, hey, I’m taking him to play golf later….alll about balance, right?

    I will *try* and not put too much pressure on him about his grades and college but it’s hard when a kid is academically talented (which he is). I want him to have balance, but not ignore his gifts. Jeez, being a parent is HARD!

  4. it’s crazy how big recruiting has gotten to be! CONGRATS on the release girl!

    • Thanks, Keri 🙂 It really is crazy, but a lot of stuff these days is nuts. I’m ready for people to wake up and look long and hard about what we’re doing to our kids…and I’m as guilty as anyone. But I’m trying to pay better attention to what I’m actually teaching them.

  5. I had some pressure about my grades, but most of it came from myself. I don’t remember pressure about anything else, really. At least, not beyond normal.

    I think a lot of what you’re talking about is just natural evolution. Humanity is incapable of standing still. There are SO many more people now, and we’re all seeking new ways to make a living or improve whatever we’re doing. That results in things like sliding shorts (what the heck are those?! LOL) and increased competition (that in turn leads to pressure to be better).

    My kids resist pressure. As a result this summer is all lump, no action. LOL

    BTW, I was so excited about your book including football I went and bought it immediately even though you didn’t even give us the TITLE never mind buy links! *scowl*

    • Yeah, I didn’t think about that which is odd, but I’m glad you found it. Yeah, football. I do love it…and nothing wrong with a lumpy summer.

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