An inside look at the college recruiting process

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Used with permission from Ray Curry

Ray Curry (12) poses on his visit to Arkansas earlier this year. Curry is one of a few White Station athletes that has gone through the college recruitment process this year.

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From the outside looking in, the college recruiting process for high school athletes often raises more questions than answers. How do recruits get noticed by coaches? What’s it like when someone gets their first offer? And, most importantly, what happens to the jerseys recruits wear on visits? 

Only about 2% of high school athletes go on to compete on a scholarship in college each year. Getting in position to earn this scholarship takes hard work, but the feeling of getting an offer is often validating.

“[Getting an offer] felt like, y’know, I was growing as a player,” Kolby Hilson (12), who is currently being recruited for basketball, said. “It was like ‘I could do this.’”

One of the biggest keys to attracting attention from colleges is finding ways to promote oneself. Coaches also play major roles in showing their players off to prospective colleges. 

“I put my game highlights together, and my coach was just sending it out,” Ray Curry (12), who is committed to play football at Arkansas, said. “And all those people he sent [my highlights] out to, like Mississippi State and Indiana, they offered me, and [offers] just kept rolling in.”

If a college shows interest in a recruit, another key phase of recruiting can occur: visits. Visits give recruits the opportunity to talk to current players, tour the school’s facilities and potentially seal a recruit’s commitment. 

Going on a visit is a lot of fun, but it’s also very overwhelming because there is so much information getting thrown at  you all at once,” Annie Kannady (12), who is committed to Hendrix for swimming, said. “One of my favorite parts of my visit [to Hendrix] was the night of my overnight, and we went over to one of the upperclassmen’s apartment and sat there drinking hot chocolate… I just loved the community feeling and the team so much.”  

For some, visits can include special perks like dinner with coaches.

“We went out to eat and what not,” Curry said. “I’m trying to remember what visit this was, but we had plenty of lobster tails and stuff like that, y’know.”

For young athletes who are beginning to navigate the recruiting process, it’s important to live in the moment and be persistent. 

For younger people I’d suggest being patient and then enjoying the time when you are getting offers,” said Kannady.

“Keep grinding,” said Hilson. “Do not give up, no matter if you have a broken leg or you think you can’t do it… Just keep working and stay focused.”

And finally, do recruits get to keep the jerseys we see in photos from their visit?

“They make you give it back,” Curry said with a laugh. “That’s against compliance.”

Fair enough, Ray. Fair enough.