With National Signing Day and Tom Brady’s quest for his 5th Super Bowl ring coming up, the following article is a good reminder that not being highly recruited or even recruited at all is not the end of a high school athlete’s athletic ambitions.
Tom Brady, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, was not getting any looks from recruiters in high school. A proactive marketing campaign by Brady’s father eventually landed Brady at the University of Michigan. Long before the advent of digital video that would allow any parent to email video to college coaches all across the country, Tom Brady Sr. had to compile footage and mail tapes to 54 schools.
However, what is easily overlooked in the article is this key passage.
One thing that was non-negotiable was finding a program where Tom could excel on the field and in the classroom. With this criteria in mind, he quickly whittled his list to five schools.
“Probably the ones that we did hear from and ultimately pared the list to were Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Michigan and Illinois,” Brady Sr. said. “Those were the final five schools Tommy was considering. If athletics didn’t work out, he’d be proud to have a degree from a great academic school. Those were five pretty darn good schools, so he had a pretty good list there.”
If you are a high school athlete, but are not highly recruited or recruited at all, do this. Find out where you have a good chance of making the roster. For football players, this will be an easier task than for other sports since NCAA football teams often carry 20-30 walk-ons while other sports may only have 1-2 walk-on roster spots.
After you find out where you can play, pick the best academic school out of the list. True, college is what you make of it and successful people come from all tiers of colleges. However, the experience, network, and prestige of having an admirable, coveted degree on your wall pays dividends for life.
I advise non-recruited high school players to not concern themselves with playing time at the next level if they want to continue their athletic careers. Simply find the best school where they can make the team and work harder than everyone else to stay on that team. There are numerous examples in ancient and recent history of walk ons who could have started at a smaller school, but chose the bigger school and ended up garnering playing time and even earning a scholarship. In the end, they all graduated with a degree from a more regarded, prestigious school.
College really is what you make of it.