The Athlete's Advisor
As a prospective student athlete evaluating various
schools and their athletic programs you want to arm
yourself with as much information as possible in order
to make an informed decision.. This decision will
hopefully lead you to the best option in terms of
academics, social life and playing opportunity.
One of the best tools to help glean information about
a sports program is the teamís roster. Almost every
school in the country has a web site and the team rosters
are only a few clicks away. If the team statistics are available,
even better as you can use the two data sources
together to read into a program. What can a roster tell
you about an athletic team? A lot!
Where are the players from?
Rosters list hometown and state. This information tells
you where the coach focuses his or her recruiting. At
state schools and in terms of athletic scholarship money,
an in-state student costs less than out of state, therefore
a coach can stretch his or her money further. In other cases,
the coach is happy with the area talent and does not find
it a worth while investment to expand their recruiting area.
This does not mean that a coach will not recruit you if you
make contact, are sincerely interested in the school and show
signs of being a decent player on paper or film. The hard part
for most coaches is actually seeing you in person if you far
away. Budgets and time rarely allow for it, therefore you
need to go to them by playing in a local showcase, attending
their camp or playing in a tournament near the school and
inviting the coach to come see you.
How many players are at your position
and what year are they?
Most coaches recruit on need. If there is a log jam of
underclass players at your position there is a strong chance
they are not recruiting for that position currently. This
does not mean you are not capable of playing for the program,
rather the coaches want to use his or her admissions slots on
players who fill more pressing needs.
Unless you can move to, and compete at another position,
or you are head and shoulders above the current players
at your position, you will not be high on the recruiting charts.
The Flip Side The reverse holds true when you see a program that
is top heavy with upperclassmen at your position. Odds say the
coach is looking to fill some current or pending holes and that
this increases your chances with that school. However there is
still more detective work to be done and This is where statistics
play a big part.
Suppose you play small forward on the basketball team and you
see that this school has two seniors and a freshman at this position.
Your first thought might be that there will be an opening for you
to compete against a young player for considerable playing time
as the senior talent is leaving. Perhaps, but check the stats first.
You might find that the freshman stared every game and was the 2nd
leading scorer on the team. In this case you face a significant
obstacle to that position of three years. Should you shy away from
competing? Of course not. But you want to find the best situation
for yourself. How many young short-stops want to play for the
Yankees with Derek Jeter looking at 10 more years of greatness?
None. They want to play every day. Nor would the Yankees want to
spend valuable money on a player who will sit the bench and become
Do underclassmen really have a chance of playing at a program?
Check the roster and the stats to find out. Perhaps underclassmen
also play on a JV team as well where they can get valuable game experience.
Size Do you fit the profile?
Look at the height and weight of the players on the roster. If the
hockey defensemen are all over 6 ft 195 lbs and you play that position
at 5 Ď8" 165lbs in HS then you simply donít fit the mold and will not
be of interest to the coach. NOTE: Always let someone else determine
if you are too small, this is not your decision to make. But the size
of the athleteís at your position does tell your something about your
chances with that program.
Usually, athletic rosters inflate the height and weight of their
players. Keep this in mind when you are looking. A 6 footer on the
roster might be a 5í10" or 5í11" in reality.
Distribution of upper and lower classmen
Typically, college rosters have more freshman and sophomores on the
team than juniors and seniors because of attrition in the program.
People drop out for a variety or reasons: Injury, lack of playing
time, academic, transfers, poor relationship with the coach, etc.
But a solid program should usually have a strong core of players at
all levels. Schools with very few upper class men give reason to
waive a red flag for further investigation.
First of all the roster make-up of a given year is not proof on a
trend so you need to look at previous rosters and ask questions.
Programs lacking upper class presence should be questioned on the following:
- Graduation rate of the recruited athletes
- Injury history do players suffer a lot of injuries and drop out
- Does the coach bring in far more underclassmen as recruits
than is needed? Only to "weed" them out during fall ball.
Junior College Recruiting
Many coaches go after proven talent by raiding the JC ranks
each year. While few teams are made up exclusively of Junior
College transfers it is a good idea to know if they are junior
First, you might want to hone your game need to get your
academic house in order at a JC and it pays to know who
looks to JC for talent. Second, as an incoming frosh at a school,
you want to know if you will be competing each year with a fresh
batch of experienced JC transfers who are proven at the college level.
Past rosters looking for patterns
We touched on this earlier, one year does not a pattern or trend
make. So for things such as Junior College players on the roster,
and the ratio of upperclassmen to lower classmen, prior rosters are needed.
Who is coming in this year with you (maybe) not all team sites have
this but some do. You should also ask the coach who else they are
recruiting at your position or who has committed already.
Look at player bios
Are they all stars or diamonds in the rough this gives you an
idea about the type of player recruited. Keep in mind that a
lot of high school background info is over blown PR hype created
by the sports information department.
In the last two or three years it has become somewhat common
for NCAA Division I college baseball programs to "stockpile" incoming
freshman and junior college transfer baseball signees. Coaches
essentially use the fall as a try-out period and then make room by
asking players to take less scholarship money or to consider the
JC route where they can get more playing time. Not every college
does this, but be aware of the numbers game, and be realistic about
your chances of actually playing at a top level school. (For more
info on this subject see High School Baseball Web)
The roster is not the only tool you use to assess a program, it
is one of many. Visit the campus, meet the coach, talk to the players,
ask a lot of questions and be persistent in your quest for knowledge.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Review Baseball: Playing Outside the Lines by Ray Lauenstein