Guest Column: Evaluating Recruiting During COVID-19

Imagine this story. I walk into the room and all of a sudden I hear the cheers from a small crowd that has gathered around a table tucked away in the corner. I push my way through the crowd to get a better look at what has everyone so amped up around the table. "Hit me!"

The crowd grows anxious as the dealer turns over Player A's card and then his card. Player A's eyes get big as the dealer shouts "TWENTY ONE." The crowd erupts and Player A drops her head in defeat. As the dealer picks up the cards and begins to shuffle for the next game, Player A realizes in that moment that she has lost it all!

We've all seen this metaphor play out before, in the sports world: Player A has the hot hand all night and is killing the dealer. The crowd hovers around and is cheering while the player is winning, but the high is short-lived when Player A overplays his or her hand.

We watch this scenario play out every year when our young student-athletes go through their recruiting processes, too. One of the main issues I see from our young athletes (and parents) in this process is the inability to be content with the school that is actually courting them. Now before you catch a cramp in your face for scrunching your nose up at that last comment, let me explain.

We're not asking for you to settle for just any program.

That is definitely NOT what we are implying here. We are talking about having options on the table, but not jumping on any of them because you are waiting on the dream school to come. Or you are waiting on the school that keeps telling you 'We need to see a little more before we can make a decision,' when you have other schools on the line that are impressed with the body of work that you have already put together.

One of the main issues I see from our young athletes (and parents) in this process is the inability to be content with the school that is actually courting them.

Any other year, I would be okay with kids betting on themselves when it came to their recruiting process.

If you don't believe in yourself, then who will?

With that being said, this has to be the absolute WORST year if you are a betting man or woman, because the probability of the dealer winning over you is astronomical. When you consider the amount of scholarships each program is allotted compared to the amount of individuals fighting for those scholarships, every athlete was already in an uphill battle.

Now, factor in that the NCAA has granted EVERYONE and their momma an extra year of eligibility and now the hill you were just fighting up became Mount Everest!

Unfortunately, for most of the Class of 2021 and likely 2022, you all just so happen to have horrible birthdays and COVID-19 continues to impact your lives in a horrible way. COVID-19 took the athletic world by storm in March of 2020 which canceled all of our spring sports.

Due to the cancellations of entire seasons, the NCAA granted those athletes competing in the 2020 spring season an extra year of eligibility. In October of 2020, according to an article in the Next College Student Athlete, the NCAA has granted all fall and winter sports an extra year of eligibility as well.

These extra seasons of eligibility now gives the current NCAA athletes six years to compete in four years of athletics compared to the five years it used to be prior to COVID-19. To make matters worse, according to an article written in Sports Illustrated, NCAA Proposal Says Transfers Will be Granted Immediate Eligibility, states that under the new proposal that goes into effect August 2021 student-athletes can transfer one time without penalty and track and field athletes would be able to compete immediately!

So... what does this mean for my high school athletes you ask?


Remember, your child is fighting to receive one of the coveted 12.6 scholarships on the men's side and 18.3 scholarships on the women's side (Division I).

With the added years of eligibility for the collegiate kids and the ability for those kids to transfer without penalty and immediately become eligible to compete, this will definitely lower the chances for a Class of 2021 senior to get any top dollar scholarship allocation for their performances.

But this puts the colleges and universities in a jam as well. The money they expected to be free from after graduation is not there anymore; you now have kids exercising their extra year of eligibility to finish their collegiate careers.

On top of the kids returning, now we have proven athletes entering the transfer portal, so now the dilemma becomes - should the coach award a high school athlete one of the few scholarships that he/she has or go get an already proven collegiate athlete out of the transfer portal that you know for sure can help the program immediately? Hence the reason why I say, the Class of 2021 just so happened to have bad birthdays.

It is going to be very hard to pass up on the kid in the transfer portal with multiple years of eligibility left for the unproven good high school athlete.

"Bet on self!"

This is one of the slogans that my program lives by. Again, if you don't believe in you, then who else will? A good gambler knows that you win some and lose some, but every decision has to be calculated. Even with the loss, the player just believed the probability of them winning was higher than the risk of losing.

This is not the year to bet against the odds. High school kids consider it pure joy to be in the number if you are being actively recruited. Understand that if a coach is contacting you, he/she is also gambling on you so understand these few tips.  

  1. 9/10 that school isn't low balling you - right now that's all the money that they have to spare.
  2.  No, they aren't pressuring you with a timeline on your NLI to keep you from entertaining other schools, they legit don't have the time to wait on you this year - I have seen a situation where a coach has offered four kids the same deal, but only the first two to commit will get the scholarship. In this situation, two of the athletes waited so they could take more visit while the other two jumped on the deal within a week. When the other two called back the offer was off the table. Great example of athletes weighing the risk and reward. Two kids were not willing to play with the odds, while the other two were. Two kids are committed to continue the dream of competing at the collegiate level while the two others are still looking for a place to call home.

As crazy as this whole pandemic year has been, there are plenty highlights to speak of as well. Kids are still being recruited and dreams are still being fulfilled. Remember, the dream was always to have the opportunity to compete after high school. The size of the school and name on the warmup was never part of the dream.

Don't let Twitter tell you that being recruited by the "small" school is not just as big as being pursued by the Power Five. While you are contemplating if this school is worthy of your presence, there are millions of athletes waiting on you to overplay your hand and take advantage of your loss.

Blackjack is all about odds and if you do not get anything from this article, understand that the odds are NOT in your favor this year so when you make that metaphorical bet ... do so at your own risk! 

-Coach CP-

 Charles Proctor is a South Carolina high school coach and competed at the college level of track and field. 

Read previous columns of Proctor