Despite Covid challenges, college recruiting at all-time high

Ryan Schulman, Staff Writer

As Covid-19 continues to affect school, shopping, and many other activities, it has yet to affect college recruiting for athletes. Before Covid-19, scouts usually had the opportunity to go to games to see how players perform and to see if they wanted them on their team, but now recruiting has become a lot easier.

Before Covid-19 started closing schools and shutting down businesses, college recruiting for high schools mostly consisted of college scouts going to games, tournaments, and showcases, seeing if the student-athlete had what it would take to play at the next level. Little amounts of scouting took place online. 

But now, the common practice has been changed, as almost all college recruiting is taking place online. On NCSA (Next College Student Athlete), a recruiting platform, student-athletes upload videos of themselves practicing and playing, in efforts to showcase their abilities to college coaches all around the country. NCSA also displays stats including GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and a personal statement made by the student-athlete. 

“Coaches have been more active recruiting online during the pandemic,” said NCSA sports, a popular recruiting platform for student-athletes trying to make it to the next level. “We’ve seen a 20 percent  increase in college coach logins and a 17 percent increase in recruiting profiles.”

Division 1 scouts have a “dead period”  where scouts can not attend any showcases and games of student-athletes, and this usually falls through June 15. However, date kept getting pushed back with each new explosion of Covid-19 cases. Experts recently confirmed the “dead period” is supposed to end on January 1. This deadline is posing a threat nationwide for junior and senior student-athletes to be scouted and to be signed by Ivy League schools, as well as Division 1 colleges and universities.

“People are doing online recruiting and sending in videos and kids keep committing earlier and earlier,” explained Kyle Baxt, player for the Bronco Junior Varsity Baseball team. “It’s changed for better and worse.”

With parks and fields being closed all summer, athletes must find their own way to practice and get better so that when fall,  the biggest time for college recruiting, comes around, they can showcase their skills and get the attention of college coaches. Now that the school year has started up again, student-athletes need to focus on their grades, despite the move to virtual school.

Josh Friedman, on the coaching staff for Vipers Baseball Club, has been helping student-athletes be prepared for the fall by giving lessons. 

I feel it has certainly become more difficult with all the uncertainty dealing with the ability to practice and play games,” shared Friedman. “As long as the student-athlete stays focused on their goals, works with their parents, and coaches, stays updated on their training and game video and, most importantly, maintains excellent academics, everything will work out well.”

 As Friedman said, the work ethic is the same, even with Covid-19 affecting how that work is being put in.

Since college recruiting was stunted, college sports were bound to be affected, too. Many college sports programs were put on hold in March because of Covid-19, and are only starting up again this fall. The issue in these circumstances is that if a Division 1 coach finds a student-athlete online, they may invite them to a camp at their college. However, they may not like what they see in person, and send them home. 

“We’re a new staff, so you want people to see how it’s put together,” noted Chris Partridge, the Ole Miss co-defensive coordinator, in the ESPN article “College Football and Basketball Recruiting Challenges during the Coronavirus Pandemic.” “Face-to-face with these guys is going to be the way we’re going to win these battles, and right now you can put them on the phone, but it’s the in-person stuff that’s important.”

Another aspect affected by Covid-19 is the student-athlete having the chance to play their seasons. Some parents do not feel comfortable and do not want their child at risk of catching Covid-19. These fears are especially high in sports such as football, where you make contact with just about every player there.

“Kids aren’t able to show their full potential this season,” said Nicholas Giesy, quarterback for Central’s Broncos football team. “Some kids probably have parents that won’t let them play.”