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Recruiting: It is a whole new ball game

January 13, 2012

Over the past year, Borger senior Miles McKinney and his family have been working hard in the recruiting process in order to find the right collegiate football program. Since the end of the 2011 football season, John Green, Clarendon College Athletic Director, has helped the family in the recruiting process. PICTURED L to R) Kelly McKinney, Tamara McKinney, Miles McKinney, and John Green. COURTESY PHOTO

Now that the college football season is over, die-hard fans will start checking out newspapers and various websites to see the list of new recruits their favorite college teams are planning on bringing in this spring or upcoming fall.
Thanks to movies and television, a lot of people picture college coaches calling players over and over again to tell them how great they are and how it would be in the best interest of the player for them to agree to come to their school.
For top blue chip athletes, non-stop phone calls and coach visits might be somewhat the case. But for most high school athletes, in any sport, the process of getting recruited can be a challenging and a time consuming process.
Due to the Internet and email, coaches at all collegiate levels can have information at their finger tips to potentially attract players from all over the world.
Because of the access to so much information about athletes, John Green, former Frank Phillips College Athletic Director and current Clarendon College Athletic Director, said potential recruits and their parents need to understand all that is involved in the recruiting process, saying, “The old school process of waiting to hear is gone. Many players get lost in a bad season or not being in a larger district or whatever the reason. So today’s athlete must be able to to learn how to sell yourself.”
Green has served in a variety of roles in collegiate sports including coach, Supervisor of Officials and Umpires, WJCAC Conference Commissioner and NJCAA Region Director. Due to his involvement, Green has used his experience in order to see the changes that have taken place in the recruiting process firsthand and tries to use his connections and his experience to help local athletes have the opportunity to live out their athletic dreams at the collegiate level.
One of the athletes Green has worked with recently is Borger High School senior Miles McKinney.
McKinney is a three-year letterman for the Borger Bulldogs football team where he played linebacker and tight end.
Since the end of his junior season Miles and his parents, Kelly and Tamara McKinney, have learned firsthand how important it is for athletes and their families to take the time to try to sell themselves in order to have an opportunity at playing a sport in college.
After talking to Miles and his father Kelly, you learn quickly that they have spent a lot of time working out in front of coaches and contacting schools around the country looking to find the right place for Miles to play football at the next level.
Over the past two years, McKinney established himself as one of the best linebackers in the Texas Panhandle, earning First Team All-District honors his junior and senior year and was named as a Pre-Season All-State selection by theOldCoach.com going into the 2011 season.
After a great junior season, M. McKinney spent a lot of time taking part in a variety of football camps around the country, which helped the linebacker become a better player but also helped him get an understanding on what it will take to be a good football player in college.
According to M.McKinney, the experience in the camps was well worth it, with him saying, “Taking part in the camps allowed me to work with some of the best coaches in the country and learn a lot of the terminology that is used at the college level. It also gave me the opportunity to work out with and against some of the best players in the country and know that I have the ability to play at a high level.”
Miles’ father, Kelly, has been there to watch his son at the different camps and said the experience allowed his son to really develop as a player beyond what he could’ve got from just working out at the high school. K.McKinney went on to say that the camps allowed Miles to get some good exposure in front of many different coaches and to be mentioned in various recruiting websites including Rivals.com and being listed on ESPN’s recruiting database.
As a result, M.McKinney drew interest from a couple of division one schools, but at this time none of them have stepped out and offered Miles a scholarship.
The McKinney family has done a lot of the recruiting ground work themselves instead of hiring a recruiting service, which is something Green said isn’t needed.
On why he doesn’t put a lot of faith in recruiting services, Green said, “My first advice to a high school athlete and their family is do not pay for a recruiting services to promote the athlete. You can make a better impression yourself. The process of waiting for a college to come to you is outdated. Athletes from all around the globe are eager to play collegiate sports and get an American education. Many countries do not have collegiate sports, so they are focused on getting an opportunity in the United States.”
Both Green and K.McKinney added that athletes in the Texas Panhandle have to understand that recruiters aren’t going to spend a lot of time looking at athletes in this area, compared to areas like the Dallas-Ft.Worth or Austin/San Antonio areas, because of the lack of competition.
Both Green and McKinney are quick to point out there are several good athletes in the Texas Panhandle and in Borger. But the level of competition local athletes see competing at the 1A-3A levels is not the same as athletes coming out of areas with a lot of bigger schools, so recruiters are not going to spend a lot of time watching games at the small school level.
Green said, “Athletes and their families have to become very honest and realize that an award-winning very successful high school athlete may never make the starting lineup in college. It all starts again with bigger and better competition competing for a spot on the squad. The effort required to compete at the next level is tremendous.”
As far as what he recommends for athletes in this area, the first thing Green suggests athletes and their families do is prepare a good resume to present to college coaches.
Green said, “Get your resume together. Label yourself in a manner that the people (coaches) just may pick you up and buy you. Resumes are the way to get a coach to stop for a moment and consider the product and what is inside.”
Below is an example of what Green and the McKinney family put together for Miles.
“He is a versatile athlete playing linebacker, tight end and even deep snaps. He has a hudl website and the link is below. http://www.hudl.com/athlete/552711/miles-mckinney
He has outstanding grades and is at the top of his class. Again he is driven and needs an opportunity. I am certain his grades would help in getting an academic scholarship as he scores a 24 on the ACT.
Two Years Football Team Captain            
2 years State Qualifier in Wrestling
State Qualifier in Powerlifting
O-D Camp Defensive MVP
K.McKinney said that the resume and addition of the good video footage of at www.hudl.com has already paid off with several coaches reaching out to him and Miles to find out more information about him.
Green echoed McKinney’s comments by saying, “The McKinney family has worked with me to provide the information and I was able to organize it to help sell Miles as a good investment for a college coach. We have gone from not attracting any attention in a month to having Miles recruited at all levels from NJCAA to DI colleges. Miles’s parents Kelly and Tamara worked to get me the information that I knew would spark the interest of these coaches. The use of a recruiting website HUDL also assisted me in advertising Miles as a student athlete. The information inputted by the McKinneys made it a nice neat package to include in our efforts.”
The McKinney family and Green also say that athletes and parents can never underestimate the importance of having a student-athlete perform well in the classroom.
K.McKinney said, “Several of the coaches we have talked to have been impressed with Miles’s academic record. Since he has done well in the classroom and ACT’s there have been a couple of coaches who have said they could offer academic scholarship money to bring Miles in, even if an athletic scholarship isn’t available.”
Green also stressed the importance of being able to do well academically saying, “The demands to be competitive and bring recognition to the college have turned the heat up on coaches and grades are extremely important. You can be the greatest player. However, without the grades you could be considered at risk for the coach to sign. Coaches’ jobs are on the line to be successful and bring the media spotlight to the college. Every coach has to access how much risk he or she is willing to take. So not just passing but excelling in the classroom is a huge plus and it brings with it larger scholarship packages. The athletes I have had in the past have advanced to the next level many times due to their academic and athletic success. Academic honors are worth their weight in gold you might say. Being involved in activities and organizations bring to light the individual’s commitment to the school and community in which they are in.”
Green also added that athletes don’t need to overlook opportunities available to them at the JUCO level.
Playing at the JUCO level can provide athletes the opportunities to be able to compete in their sport immediately and have opportunities open up for them even at the division one level.
For Miles, if the opportunity for a scholarship at a division one school doesn’t become available now, the JUCO ranks are something the linebacker is considering along with offers at division two or smaller schools.
K.McKinney commented, “There are several good JUCO football programs in Texas, Kansas, and California that several major football programs recruit from each year. So there is a good opportunity for Miles to go somewhere and have a good fall and doors open up for him at the division one level.”
When Miles is asked where he would like to play, the senior says he is open to playing anywhere he would be given the opportunity. But before he would commit, Miles will make sure it is good situation where he could benefit on the field and in the classroom.
As of Monday, K.McKinney said contact has been made with at least 100 coaches from around the country, since the family has started the recruiting process. He feels confident the right opportunity will come open.
Miles is expected to travel to East Texas to visit Kilgore College later this month.
For local athletes that would like assistance in the recruiting process, Green is willing to work with any local athlete and their families try to achieve their dream. Green said, “I am thrilled to try and help anyone in Borger who is going through this process or lost as to why their son or daughter is not being recruited. It is a way for me to give back to this incredible community I have enjoyed being a part of for 25 years and all that it has done for me and my family. However, if anyone wants to donate as a result of my assistance, the Clarendon College General Booster Club Account would greatly be appreciated. I am at home on many weekends and would be glad to sit down and visit with a family and share any knowledge I have on how to attract attention and allow their son or daughter to play the sport at the collegiate level or I can be reached by phone.”

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