My hope is that everyone has enjoyed a wonderful Christmas. I define enjoy as being happy and comfortable in whatever situation that one is in. Having my family for a few days here at the farm was enjoyable. Having my brother visiting for a week is enjoyable. Having some snow, but not a blizzard was enjoyable. Getting my mind back to working with parents, players, both school and college coaches is enjoyable.
As a coach/teacher going back to school after the Christmas vacation was the start of offseason football. Of course, the classroom was exciting, because we started a new term. But thinking and doing football "stuff" was, needless to say, huge. The same holds true many years later.
High school football players get to work. Once you get back to school, there is so much "stuff" to take care of and to begin working on.
1. Get your grades in line. Some schools have already had exams. Study for your exams. Find out just where you are with your GPA. Work hard the second semester. Close the school year with your GPA in good shape.
2. If your school allows to you take summer school classes, check it out. If your school allows you to take a class over, check it out. I know that this will fall on deaf ears, but get that GPA up and start making plans for the ACT test. Take that test as soon as you can.
3. Get seriously into strength training. Hopefully, your coach has an excellent football winter program. Do not miss a workout. Overall strength is really important, but quickness, agility, and speed is the answer in this era of college football. Power lifting is good, but movement is huge. If your high school coach does not emphasize speed training, I would try to find a speed program somewhere.
4. If your track coaches know how to make athletes faster, go out for track. If your throwing coach is good, get familiar with the shot/discus. I was a thrower and a baseball catcher in high school, so I love baseball, too. If you are a baseball player, workout in the mornings for football.
5. Although I think NIKE combines are more about marketing than educating football players, you should get to a combine in March, if possible. Once you get into April and May, spring sports should be a priority. I would hate to have my top sprinter, pull his hammie, running a 40. The same with my top baseball player.
More on combines. Be sure they are legit. A few years ago, some parents from Cleveland called me, boasting about their sons' 40 times. Later someone told me the 40 was only 37 yards long. Made sense, and I believed the rumor. Be sure the instructors warm you up correctly. Last winter, a high profile D-I prospect injured his hamstring slightly. Not good. There is a company near Steubenville who does a good job with combines. MSROHIO has three combines across the state, but we make mistakes too. Besides exposure, I really think learning the different tests to prepare for college summer camps should be your major motivation for going to a combine.
6. Begin looking at college summer football camps. Most colleges will have information available by the beginning of February. Check out a college's football website. Look for summer camp information. Your high school football should have some "fliers" available beginning in March.
More on camps. Big is not always better. Obviously, a Michigan, or a Michigan State, or an Ohio State camp is good for exposure, but some parents encourage their son to go, more for themselves, than for their son. If you are a college prospect, going to a college's camp is important, but not the ultimate. If you are a middle school player, go where the coaches will instruct you.
One day "rising seniors" camps are another recruiting tool. Just because a school invites you, does not necessarily mean that they are going to recruit you. If you pay attention to who the coaches are catering to, you know who they are really recruiting.
7. Find out the "spring practice schedules" of the D-I colleges. Some practices actually start in March. Not too far away. Anyway, think about visitng some of the schools that you like. Later in March, set up some times to visit spring practice. Here again, go to a college's football website and check for spring football practice dates and times.
8. Finally, the football recruiting websites are beginning to list the top players in the Ohio Class of 2014. The football recruiting reporters put these lists together. The reporters do this to get readers to their websites. This is also done on the national level. Please do not get up in these rankings. If Ohio State likes a player, he is going to be rated high, regardless if he is worthy of it. Reading how Rivals, 24-7, or Fox rated a player is good for exposure, but if you are a "rising junior," smile and keep working hard in the weight room and in the classroom, to impress the people who matter the most, when it comes to ranking a prospect. The college football coaches!!!
January begins a new year and there is a lot of "stuff" to do in preparing to be a college recruit. Work hard and try to avoid alot of the "noise." The best to you in your journey! jmc