Q: Does size play a role in recruiting or do coaches focus solely on skill?
A: Coaches are evaluating skill, size, strength and speed. Most players may not be great at all four, but being exceptional with any of those qualities can help you get on the map or get the recruiting conversations going.
Never let someone tell you that you are “too small” or “too slow” to play college sports—if you have the talent, you can work your way to scholarship offers somewhere. Some coaching staffs sit down and determine physical sizes they are looking for at each position and may not make many exceptions, other staffs are more flexible if the skills outweigh the size issues.
Coaches are also “projecting” what your size will be once they get you on campus, in their dining halls with usually unlimited meal plans, their strength staff and nutritionists. They can envision what they can get you too with all of their resources.
Not every school may be willing to take a look—but you just need to find that one coaching staff who believes in you.
I have worked with players who may have had great measurable who lacked position skills. Since many coaches feel they can teach position skills, they may recruit players who already have the great size and speed—it just depends on how that staff evaluates players for scholarships.
Great skill, toughness and a high sport IQ can overcome a lack of size or speed. Continue to develop great fundamentals of your position and set goals to improve your measurables. You may not be able to control your height but there are ways to improve your skills, speed, strength and weight.
Some insight from an NFL scout on what he sees on the college level:
“The best evaluators are really good at projecting, and they have a good idea of what they already currently have to work with physically and athletically. A 250-pound high school TE might project very well as a 315-pound OT by his senior year at a Power 5 school. That’s what coaches are looking for– the projectable frame. For the Power 5 schools that have great resources, a 6’2” 195-pound linebacker in high school may be intriguing as he might be a 230-lb OLB in college. But, if you’re a 6’1” or 6’2” – 180-pound guy… that’s a 15-pound difference to start with. That’s a big difference, that 15 pounds may play a big difference in a coach’s mind. He’ll probably grow into a 220-lb linebacker by the time they develop him, so he might get out-recruited as an upperclassmen, and fall off their radar.
At the college level– they’re looking at arm length, hand size, wing span, dexterity in the joints. Who has the frame to develop what we’re ideally trying to build?
Be personable, that says a lot. What kind of communication skills do you have? Is this going to be a guy who is hard to speak with? Coaches have to know who they can coach- they have to know how to communicate with you. If you’re playing a key position, like if you’re the guy making a call in the secondary, coaches have to trust you to do it. Trust is huge – communication is huge.
Not every guy is ready for Power 5 football out of high school– that’s not saying that you can’t ever be that type of player eventually. I think prep players — and their parents — have to be honest with themselves about where they fit in.
You have to be realistic about where you are physically and athletically. Just because you’re not playing at a Power 5 school, there’s nothing wrong with a Conference USA school, an Ohio Valley school, even an NAIA school! You have to go, handle your business. You’ve got to perform, you’ve got to continue to eat and train right. You have to get your resources together based on where you’re at now, and you have to attack it every day.
The smaller schools, sometimes there is a big blame game. ‘We don’t have any resources.’ You can still be THAT guy in the weight room, you can be THAT guy in the film room. Guys use ‘no resources’ as a crutch too often. You have a weight room, right? There are little things that you can do to help yourself.
How far are guys willing to go to help themselves?”