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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

College sports recruiting spirals out of control

Ten years ago, 90 percent of prospective college athletes committed during their senior year and signed their National Letter of Intent during the holiday season. Fast forward to the present, and that is no longer true.
College recruiting is spiraling out of control nowadays with top-flight athletes committing to college as early as eighth grade or freshman year. These commitments are absurd, both for the athlete and for the school.
For both parties, the offer is extreme. For the student athlete, they are often overwhelmed with the opportunity to play sports at the collegiate level and foolhardily commit to the school without knowing whether or not the school is a good fit. The most important part of the athletic experience at college is finding the right fit for the player academically, athletically and socially. 
St Francis baseball standout Tim Susnara, now a senior, encountered many of these problems early in his high school career. He was heavily recruited by many schools, some that did not fit his academic, social or athletic profile. Schools started talking to him the summer after his freshman year. Many offered scholarships but he finally decided on going to the University of Oregon early in his junior year, still very early in the recruiting calender.
 Often, the stars in middle school lack the work ethic and dedication that other less physically gifted athletes have. And one of the most important keys of translating high school success to collegiate success is hard work. 
Sometimes the hard work that the coach puts into recruiting a highly touted player falls through because the player does not develop as well as the coach thought the player would. Then what happens? Since verbal commitments are not final and can be taken away, athletes often find themselves receiving a raw deal.
If a coach finds a better player than the one he previously recruited, he is not obligated to uphold his offer of a spot on the team. It isn’t until an athlete finally signs his National Letter of Intent that he knows he is going to a certain college.
There are also rare cases in which a young prospective athlete loses his scholarship and roster spot because the old coaching staff leaves and a new one comes in.
For example, local standout and Team USA 2nd baseman Bryson Brigman committed to Santa Clara University as an eighth grader. The coaching staff left two seasons later and with its departure, Brigman lost his commitment. Fortunately for him, Bryson, now a senior, recently verbally committed to Stanford University.
All the hoopla about early verbal commitments is extremely frivolous because of all the assumptions that the coach puts in the player and the player puts in the coach. The coach assumes that the player will continue to develop as rapidly as he has and continue to maintain an elite ability. While sometimes highly touted players do pan out, more often than not, they do not develop like the coach who recruited him would have hoped.
Even though early verbal commitments and recruiting as early as eighth grade seems ridiculous, colleges continue to do it to remain competitive. 
Recently, Susnara took his official to Oregon but was dismayed by the fact that the University could not give him a written agreement stating the amount of money he would get.
For Susnara, the whole experience is frustrating, but that is the world of college recruiting nowadays.
In order to improve both athletes’ and colleges’ experiences, early recruitment should be terminated, but as long as one college does it, all the others will follow suit, leading to one giant cycle of disappointment for both coaches and players.
 
 
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