Social media, other innovations have changed the way that game is played
College football recruiting has gone through some interesting changes in recent years, with social media and services such as Hudl helping athletes get noticed.
Today we start a three-part series detailing some of the changes, as well as a closer look at two Division-I talents from Union High School: Lincoln Victor and Darien Chase.
VANCOUVER — It was the pass of the 2017 Class 4A Greater St. Helens League high school football season.
The Union Titans were on their own 2-yard line, taking on Skyview in hopes of clinching a playoff spot.
There probably was an official name of the play that was called. But it might as well have been: “Go long. I’ll find you.”
Quarterback Lincoln Victor threw the bomb and Darien Chase never broke stride, the ball falling perfectly into his hands while he was at top speed.
Top speed for Darien Chase is faster than most.
The rest of the play was just a coronation of sorts for the Titans. They went up 22-0 on that 98-yard touchdown pass, en route to a 43-14 victory.
With a playoff spot secure, next was a chance to win the 4A GSHL title. Sure enough, the Titans beat Camas for their first league title since 2009 when they were in the 3A GSHL.
Now, the Union Titans, along with all other high school football teams in Washington, are preparing for the 2018 season.
The most talented of seniors-to-be are also preparing to make some tough choices. Football season starts at the end of August. The recruiting season started long ago.
Several Clark County football players expect to play college football. They all have stories to tell.
For this focus on recruiting, ClarkCountyToday.com is taking a closer at Chase and Victor, two Division-I quality talents with very different stories.
Chase has been offered scholarships by four Pac-12 schools and is considered one of the top five recruits in Washington among those in the Class of 2019.
Victor has Division-I offers as well, yet he plays a position in high school that he likely will not play in college. Too short, they say, for him to be a quarterback. Too fast, too strong, though, to not play somewhere.
While Chase and Victor work toward the ultimate team goal — they want to take Union football all the way to December — they also have to work out some individual details in the coming months.
The recruiting process has always had its challenges — for players, parents, and college and high school coaches. Recruiting has gone through some major changes, too, in the past 10, 15, 20 years.
Union football coach Rory Rosenbach noted that about 10 years ago, it was rare for a college to “over-offer,” a term he uses to describe when programs offer, say, 30 players a scholarship knowing they really only have 20 or so to give out, for example.
“Now, everybody is doing that,” Rosenbach said.
College coaches realize not every athlete is going to say yes. But because they are offering so many scholarships, colleges want an answer sooner rather than later.
“It’s almost like if someone offers you, now they are seriously recruiting you,” Rosenbach said.
In the past, there was a true recruiting process prior to an offer.
Social media in recruiting
Social media has changed the way recruiting is done.
Victor is a great example of how an athlete can use Twitter to keep his name, and video, out there for college coaches, according to Ryland Spencer of Cascadia Preps.
As an analyst for the website that covers high school football and recruiting in the Northwest, Spencer said the process has changed dramatically in just the six years he has been in the profession.
He said instead of a phone call, coaches often contact athletes through direct messages on Twitter.
“Guys like Lincoln do a good job, always updating things,” Spencer said. “Coaches know who he is. They see Lincoln Victor is going to camps. Coaches are reading those things to get some info about who a kid is.”
Spencer’s advice to potential college football players: Get on Twitter. Use that valuable tool.
Spencer’s advice to potential college football players: Be smart when you are on Twitter.
“The term I always us is ‘The internet is forever.’ Go out and express yourself, let people know who you are,” Spencer said. “But you’ve got to be careful of what you put out there.”
Even a retweet or a “like” can have consequences. Spencer knows of college coaches who have ended the recruitment of an athlete due to his social media presence.
Social media helps get the word out, but performance still trumps all. A high school football season is only nine regular-season games a year. At most, in Washington, an athlete plays 14 games in a season.
Camps, clinics and 7-on-7
Camps and clinics have been around in the offseason for years, but it is the 7-on-7 clubs, leagues, and tournaments in the “offseason” that have increased in popularity in recent years. That gives quarterbacks and receivers, along with linebackers and defensive backs, more opportunities to shine. It is not “real” football, but it is real athleticism on display.
To get an idea of how big 7-on-7 can be, Victor received an offer from Northern Iowa from a 7-on-7 performance. Rosenbach, in fact, said no one from Northern Iowa ever contacted him.
Think about that — a Division I program made an offer to a high school football player and never talked to the high school coach. Unheard of just a few years ago, but Victor has made a name for himself as a slot receiver and defensive back in the 7-on-7 tournaments. Plus, he is available on social media.
“There are more opportunities for kids to get seen by colleges,” Rosenbach said.
Another huge game changer has been Hudl.
Officially, Hudl is a “sports analysis software company serving teams … with the tools to study and improve performance,” according to its website.
For players and high school coaches, it is the way to create highlight videos and share them with anyone willing to take a look.
Coaches used to use VHS tapes. They had to make copies. They had to create labels for each college. They would ship them. Later, it became DVDs. Same process.
“Now, I just need an email address,” Rosenbach said.
Getting noticed is easier now than ever in the recruiting process.
Still, there are some things that will never change: It is up to the individual player — his talent, work ethic, and character — to make the most of those opportunities.