TIPS FROM PROS: Want to Play in NFL? Power 5 Football Isn’t Your Only Option!

TIPS FROM THE PROS: Want to Play in the NFL? Power 5 Football Isn’t Your Only Option!

@1001RecruitTips recently caught up with a 10-year NFL Scout veteran for his advice for “late bloomers” or players not getting Power 5 recruiting interest and the likelihood of making it to the NFL :

“Let’s cut to the chase, the end game for a lot of players is that they want an opportunity to play in the NFL. They all want a degree, but they also want to play professional football.

They need to understand that it doesn’t matter what school you come from, the NFL is going to notice you regardless. These teams don’t pay that kind of money for scouting departments to make those types of mistakes and miss out on players. If you’re a good player, we’ll find you – that’s an old saying, and it still holds true. If you look at the NFL Draft, every year– we don’t care where guys come from. If you don’t believe it, look at free agency, go through the rosters, look at the depth charts– there’s a myriad of places we find players. Of course we have our tendencies, schools we may lean to but every year you see guys from DII getting drafted, you’ll even see guys from DIII getting drafted.

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We comb through every single nook and cranny in the entire country. If you’re going to get noticed, you’re going to get noticed– so pick a program where you have a chance, based on where you are coming out of high school, to develop your skill set. The window of development in the NFL is pretty much non-existent, coaches have to win now. Most of these young guys who leave college early for the NFL and think they’re ready—most of them are so far behind. Take advantage of those college years to really develop—there’s no time to develop once you get to the NFL, you have to be ready coming in.

Prep players needs to find out where they’re at physically coming out of high school. The best good 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.

If you want to go to a Power 5 school, you’ve got to know who you are and what you are. A lot of times, guys who need time to develop, they haven’t been in a high school program where they necessarily have the resources. They have to be realistic about getting opportunities with the Power 5 schools, unless you’re just a rare, unusual athlete.

The Dontari Poe’s of the world– he went to Memphis, he became THAT guy at Memphis. He wasn’t THAT guy coming out of high school, to where he was an “Alabama”-type guy. If he went to Alabama out of high school he might not have ever become the player that he is now. There’s no telling? He would have walked in with other guys who were 5-stars, ready to roll, right out the door. The Alabamas and Ohio States, those guys– your freshmen year, if you’re not “doing it” your freshmen year, you can easily get caught up. You have to keep forging on and developing, no matter where you are.

Look at Khalil Mack, he went to Buffalo, had the athletic potential, and really became a great player at Buffalo. If Khalil had immediately went to a Power 5 school, he may have gotten lost in the shuffle and his talent may have never had a chance to carry over, all those Power 5 schools already have very talented players. At Buffalo, he had the opportunity to really develop and grow at his own pace and at the rate that the coaches wanted. He was picked #5 overall!

Guys like Malcolm Butler from the University of West Alabama, he’s a star in the NFL by his 3rd year. The Robert Alford’s, starting corner for the Falcons the last few years– he came from Southeastern Louisiana. He’s a talented dude, if he went to LSU out of high school you may have never heard of him!

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?

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A.P. Bah Bioh brings over 16 seasons of experience to 1,001 Recruit Tips, having worked for some of the best recruiters in sports, including three "National Coach of the Year" winners -- Urban Meyer, Frank Haith and Jim Larranaga -- along with 70+ NCAA coaches while at Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Florida and the University of Miami. Working primarily with football and men's basketball, Bah Bioh also spent time working with Olympic Sport coaching staffs including softball, women's lacrosse, fencing, golf, tennis and rowing. Bah Bioh has been part of numerous championships including the 2007 Florida Gator BCS National Championship; 2006 Florida Gator SEC Football Championship; the 2013 ACC Men's Basketball Championship and Sweet 16 NCAA Tourney run with the Miami Hurricanes that included both tournament and regular-season ACC titles; a 2002 UNC ACC Women's Lacrosse Championship and Final Four finish; a 2001 UNC ACC Softball championship and as a senior, was part of the 1999 Elon Football team that finished with a 9-2 record, one of the best seasons in program history. Over the years, Bah Bioh has worked with over 30 first-round draft selections (NFL, NBA, MLB) and numerous players who went on to sign professional contracts including Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Rex Grossman, Percy Harvin, Mike and Markuice Pouncey, Shane Larkin, Joe Haden and many more!