Things Freshman Should Be Doing to Get Recruited – Part I

By: Chad Wilson
Owner GridironStuds.com

Few things in life having undergone more changes over the last three years than college football recruiting.  From NIL to transfer portal to early signing periods,  college football recruiting now resembles computer programming in the way that players and parents need to stay updated.  All of the changes have made it even more important for high school freshmen and their parents to be on point early on so that things can work out in their favor at the end.  In part I of this two part series,  I will layout five very important things that high school freshmen should do if they want to put themselves on course to get a college football scholarship.

Focus on Academics:

Maintaining strong academic performance is crucial for college recruitment. High grades and a solid GPA will demonstrate discipline, dedication, and the ability to balance academics with athletics. Student-athletes should prioritize their studies and aim for academic excellence throughout high school.  Don’t get fooled by guys who seem big time without doing their best in the classroom.  It catches up with them at some point.  Don’t follow that path.

Develop Football Skills:

Dedicate time to honing football skills through practice, training, and participation in organized football activities. Attend offseason camps, clinics, and combine events to showcase abilities and gain exposure to college coaches and recruiters. Seek guidance from experienced coaches and trainers who can provide valuable instruction.  As you progress through the levels,  your football skill will be the thing that moves you beyond the next man.

Join a Competitive High School Program:

Playing for a competitive high school football program can offer exposure and opportunities to compete against top talent. Seek out schools with successful football programs and coaches who can help develop skills and provide valuable guidance. Perform at a high level in games and practices to attract attention from college recruiters.  This tip won’t be popular with some high school coaches.  Those coaches will be the ones who aren’t dedicated to giving their players the best opportunity to play beyond high school.  For some coaches,  it’s just a paycheck and for others,  helping young student athletes reach their goals is a passion.  Find the passionate coaches and programs.

Create a Highlight Reel:

Compile a highlight reel showcasing the athlete’s best plays and skills. Include footage from games, practices, and showcases. The reel should be well-edited, highlight the athlete’s strengths, and demonstrate their potential as a college-level player. Share the highlight reel with college coaches and recruiters to showcase abilities and generate interest.  Show your best plays first and go in descending order.  When it comes to highlight tapes,  shorter is better.  Two to four minutes is all you need to entice a coach’s interest.  Besides,  you are better off having them watch your top 15 plays over and over than having them watch 30 plays for 8 minutes that include routine plays that bore them.

Attend College Camps and Combines:

Participate in college football camps and combines organized by colleges and universities. These events provide exposure to college coaches and allow athletes to showcase their skills directly in front of recruiters. Research and attend camps hosted by schools of interest to increase visibility and create opportunities for evaluations.  Use the Rivals and 247 type camps as practice for the college camps.  Don’t worry about trying to become the MVP of the Rivals camp.  Focus more on learning how to perform so that you can do that when you are actually in front of coaches who can offer you a scholarship.

These five things are a great way for you to get yourself on the right course.  As freshmen,  you have a hard time thinking about the future.  Often times,  at this age,  you live very much in the moment and find it difficult just to focus on the day you are living in.  Getting acclimated to high school and football as a 9th grader is challenging enough.  However,  scholarships for high school players are getting tougher to get.  If you want to give yourself an edge then you must have an eye to the future.  If you are a parent,  you must insert yourself here and be sure that your young man is doing these things.

In part two next week,  I will have more very useful tips for you to take advantage of.  There are over 1 million high school football players each year in the United States.  Most of these young athletes have an eye towards playing in college one day.  What you do as a freshman will increase your increasing slim odds of achieving that goal.

How to Get Recruited for College Football: A Playbook for High School Football Players 

By: Chad Wilson
Editor – GridironStuds Blog

For many high school football players, the dream of playing college football is one that’s cherished from a young age. The thought of wearing a college jersey, competing on a bigger stage, and receiving an education is incredibly enticing. However, the path to becoming a college football player is competitive and challenging. To help you get recruited and live your dream, here’s a playbook for high school football players and their parents.

1. Start Early

Recruitment often starts well before your senior year. College coaches look for young talent, so make sure to impress early. Attend football camps and showcases during your sophomore and junior years to get noticed.  In your freshman season go to local camps or smaller camps just to get used to the atmosphere of how to compete in camps.  This will prep you for the bigger and more important camps that will come down the road. 

2. Maintain Good Grades

Academics play a crucial role in college football recruitment. Maintaining a strong GPA and taking challenging courses will make you a more appealing candidate to coaches. Many scholarships require a minimum GPA, so don’t let your grades slip. This advice typically gets skipped over by young players but not the parents.  Listen to your parents because this part is more important than you realize.  When things get competitive at the end of your recruitment,  typically your GPA is the deciding factor.  The less trouble it will take to get you into school,  the better a prospect you become.

3. Create a Highlight Reel

Film is essential for recruiters. Compile a highlight reel showcasing your best plays. Include a mix of your top tackles, interceptions, touchdowns, and crucial moments. Make sure it’s easily accessible on a platform like Hudl or YouTube.  I have a ton of info on how to best put your highlight video together on this website.  There is an art to it and how you put it together should not be taken for granted.  Coaches look at 100’s of highlight videos.  You have to take the steps to make yours stand out or they may skip it.

4. Reach Out to Coaches

Don’t wait for coaches to come to you. Take the initiative and reach out to college coaches. Send them your highlight reel, your statistics, and a well-crafted introductory email expressing your interest in their program.  The old adage of play well and they’ll find you does not apply anymore.  Coaches have access to 1,000’s of recruits now because of the Internet and social media.  Every year,  many talented high school football players worthy of scholarship opportunities go unnoticed and let their college football dreams die.  Don’t let that be you,  be proactive and reach out to coaches. 

5. Attend College Camps

Participate in college camps and combines. This is a great way to get in front of college coaches, receive hands-on instruction, and showcase your skills. Many players get noticed at these events.  By college camps,  I mean camps on college campuses.  These camps are where the actual offers get handed out.  The recruiting camps run by the recruiting websites are great but when it comes down to actually being seen by a college coach with the power to offer you,  college camps are the way to go.

6. Choose the Right Fit

It’s not just about the college football program; it’s about finding the right academic and social fit. Don’t overlook factors like location, campus culture, and your major when considering colleges. Remember, you’re not just committing to a team; you’re committing to an education.  It’s normal to get attached to a coach or persuaded by a recruiters words.  After all,  it’s their job to convince you.  However,  collect as much information as you can,  sit back and make a logical choice.  Though there is a transfer portal nowadays,  going through that process is not as easy as you may think it is.  Having to pick up and change schools because you made a choice is a waste of time and momentum.  If doesn’t work out most of the time for the guys who do it.

7. Network and Get Noticed

Build a network within the football community. Attend recruiting events, join local football organizations, and connect with current or former college players. The more people who know you’re looking to play at the next level, the better your chances of getting noticed.  This is the hardest part for young athletes.  Many are intimidated by and uncomfortable talking to adults.  Quite simply,  get over that.  We are talking about your future.  The truth is that may adults respect young student-athletes who are both willing and able to hold a conversation or take the initiative to secure their future.  Some of the best conversations you will have will be with adults who can give you insight into how to reach your recruiting goals.  It may be uncomfortable at first but the rewards are worth it. 

8. Be Patient and Persistent

Recruitment can be a long and sometimes frustrating process. You may receive rejection letters or not hear back from some colleges. Stay persistent, keep improving your skills, and don’t give up on your dream.  You may hit some roadblocks and that is to be expected.  In football not every play works,  not every defense call is successful and you don’t win every game.  The same way that you line up for the next play or the next game is the same way you stay on your path in recruiting.  Where there is not a way,  you find one.  Also,  your success most likely won’t be immediate so don’t lose your mind when it isn’t.  Others may get offers before you but that doesn’t mean that they will have better opportunities in the end.  Recruiting is a marathon,  not a sprint.

9. Prepare for the Interview

When a coach expresses interest, be prepared for an interview. They’ll want to know about your character, work ethic, and team spirit. Showcase your passion for the sport and your dedication to being a team player.  It will also help for you to know something about the school and the coach as well.  Impress them with your knowledge of that they do.  This goes a long way in giving them a good impression of you.  Remember,  recruiting is competitive so get an edge wherever you can.

10. Showcase Versatility

Versatility is a valuable trait. If you can play multiple positions or excel in various situations, make sure to highlight that in your recruitment materials. Coaches love players who can adapt to different game scenarios.  How you put your highlight video together will also go a long way in highlighting your versatility.  Show as much of what you can do in the first 60-90 seconds of your highlight video.  Don’t make them wait.  Lock in their interest from the start.

11. Stay in Shape

Stay in peak physical condition year-round. Coaches are more likely to take notice if you’re consistently in good shape and working on your strength, speed, and agility.  In fact,  I highly recommend that you play other sports.  Coaches are always looking for guys that are talented in other sports or have the discipline to do it.  All the data shows that athletes that excelled in multiple sports make the best players in the long run.

12. Keep a Positive Attitude

College coaches want players who are not only talented but also coachable and positive. Your attitude, work ethic, and willingness to learn can make a significant impact on your recruitment.  There’s nothing worse than trying to get a talented athlete to cooperate for the good of the team.  Coaches are humans and want to work with people that are easy to work with.  Being constantly difficult drains the energy out of those around you that could be used for something more related to winning.  At the end of the day,  it’s about wins and losses.  Having a bad attitude does not make a winner.

13. Consider All Opportunities

Don’t rule out smaller schools or programs. Sometimes, a smaller college or university can offer significant opportunities for playing time and scholarships. Keep your options open.  Everyone one wants to play the 3:30 pm game on Saturday on CBS or Fox or ESPN.  However,  not everyone will or should.  Sometimes a smaller program can provide you with a much better experience and opportunity.  Logically look at your choices and don’t just cast out a school because your ego won’t allow you to go there.  

14. Seek Guidance

Finally, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from your high school coaches, mentors, or recruiting experts. They can provide valuable insights and help you navigate the complex recruitment process.  Playing college football is a remarkable achievement that combines your passion for the game with higher education. Remember that while talent is crucial, the process requires dedication, hard work, and a strategic approach. Follow this playbook, stay focused on your goals, and never give up on your dreams of playing college football. It’s a journey that can change your life and create lasting memories on and off the field. Good luck!

All Buffed Up: Prime Showing in Texas and it’s Time for Gator Nation to Repent

I think we all know that this first week of college football had provided us with less impact matchups than year’s past so it was going to take a Herculean performance in some of these matchups to generate the kind of excitement that previous season debuts have provided.  Deion Sanders enters the chat….  

By 1 PM est. on Saturday on this first full week of college football,  Twitter was abuzz with the performance Colorado was putting on vs. TCU.  From the opening offensive series you could see that Coach Prime and the boys from Boulder were about to back up all the words they threw down from the day he stepped foot on campus.  If you watched me on the Footballville podcast or checked out the 2 Chumps Podcast this past weekend,  you know that I was not expecting an immediate turn around in Boulder.  Hell, I laid the points with TCU as one of my college football picks this week.  So I deserve a certain portion of the scorn Sanders was issuing in the postgame.  Not a great size of that portion but a portion nonetheless. I am 100% a believer in Coach Prime’s ability to turnaround the Colorado program.  I definitely support the moves he made with the roster despite not being a full supporter of the transfer portal combined with NIL.  If those are the weapons available to go to war then you have to use them.  No one wielded that sword with more vengeance than Sanders.  He sliced some heads off in game one. 

There’s a long road ahead for Colorado in this 2023 season.  Their schedule is tough and now they have the added weight of expectation.  You can bet that the pendulum will make a full swing now in Colorado’s favor.  The oddsmakers,  the media and social media will firmly plant themselves in Colorado’s corner.  Never underestimate the flock’s desire to gather in the motion of the tide.  Colorado is hot and this wave will get ridden.  Colorado faces a huge task in gathering themselves after the hoopla of this win and readying themselves for a Nebraska team that had a good showing in week 1 vs. Minnesota.  What Colorado has in it’s corner is a more talented group of playmakers and a remarkable belief in what they can accomplish.  So many teams off of a 1-11 season would’ve folded at several tide turns in that TCU game.  Another benefit of white washing your roster via the transfer portal is that you don’t have the battle scared emotions of the previous regime.  Sanders has been able to download the mindset into his athletes without the obstruction of 2022’s PTSD.  

We can’t talk about Colorado’s achievement on Saturday afternoon without acknowledging the individual performances on the field.  Coach Prime’s initial press conference in Boulder was widely analyzed.  One remark during that conference that stuck with me was Prime saying “I’m bringing my luggage and it’s Louis.”  Well Louis made it through the rigors of the baggage loading and claim process to display it’s quality versus the Horned Frogs.  Most of the talk post game was on Travis Hunter and rightfully so.  Hunter finished the game with 11 receptions for 119 yards including two misfires on deep balls.  Defensively,  he had three pass break-ups and one amazing red zone interception to rob TCU and their faithful of some late game momentum.  However,  that was not the biggest stat for Hunter on the day.  In the eye of the sweltering Dallas September heat,  this “human being” lined up for 151 snaps for the Colorado Buffaloes.  This is unheard of.  At game’s end,  Hunter was not carried off the field ala Kellen Winslow in the 1982 playoff game vs. the Dolphins.  He was not connected to an IV drip like many others were around college football yesterday.  Hunter took a lap around the field high fiving Buff fans and could be seen dancing in the locker room during the Colorado celebration.  Hunter needs to be the subject of a Ted Talk.  

Despite all the astonishing numbers I just regurgitated in reference to Hunter,   I came away more impressed with Coach Prime’s offspring,  quarterback Shedeur Sanders.  I know far too well the scorn a coach can face when his son is a starter on the team you coach.  One other bone of contention in his intro team meeting in Boulder was Sanders naming Shedeur the starter without benefit of competition.  In Sanders’ mind,  there was no need to waste time.  If you doubted that,  not only were your silenced yesterday but your tongue hath been cut out.  From the first  series,  Sanders displayed the poise,  decision making and accuracy of a veteran.  Most must admit that they didn’t pay much attention to Jackson St. Shedeur.  So it was as if they were watching a freshman at quarterback for Colorado.  Well,  he’s no freshman.  Sanders’ final stat line was 38 of of 47 for 510 yards, 4 touchdowns and the all important 0 interception.  In a game that required the 21 point underdog Buffs to play clean,  Sanders was immaculate.  Being anything less than that in this game and the stories would’ve been so different.   A big shot out goes to Colorado offensive coordinator Sean Lewis.  Adding former head coaches to your coaching staff typically tend to be a good move if they are not angling for your job.  Sanders deserves kudos for this hire and for that of his entire staff.  What most may be willing to admit or not admit is that Colorado looked more organized and together than they expected.  For that,  Sanders’ entire staff deserves a hand.  

Who knows what the future holds in 2023 for Colorado but what we can be guaranteed are two things.  First,  is that it will be more than what most (including myself) were thinking and one way or another everyone will be watching. 

Extra Points

Time for Gator fans to repent…

The painful tweets flowed like the tears of a 4th place finisher in a tough Olympic event on Thursday night.  2023 began as 2022 ended for the Florida Gators.  Yet another coach seems to be falling short of the lofty expectations of the Gator fanbase.  No doubt,  this was the worst thing that could’ve happened for Billy Napier and his staff.  Now he finds himself standing firmly in the same spot the previous three Gator head coaches have found them standing in but at a sooner point than any of them.  Through two athletic directors and four coaching staffs,  the unrelenting Gator’s fanbase has continued to be a menacing force.  They are oblivious to their contributing force in the demise of the program. Their undue pressure and impatience has led to a new face of the program virtually every 2.8 years.   What’s worse,  this wrong and strong fanbase has continued with this charade of blaming their most recent demise on Marco Wilson and a shoe toss.  Perhaps some of these bellowing this misguided folktale actually watched the game against LSU that night but I am of the belief that most of them didn’t.  Why should they have watched?  It was a team angling for a SEC playoff taking on a 3-5 LSU team in steep decline.  For those who watched,  they have sensationalized the shoe toss and made Wilson the scape goat for their menacing destruction as a fanbase.  On that night,  Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Kyle Trask was off.  He threw a pick 6 to Eli Ricks and fumbled deep in Gator territory on another drive resulting in a LSU touchdown.  Those two plays directly contributed to 14 points to LSU in a game that was tied up in the waning moments leading up to the shoe toss.  What Wilson’ toss amounted to outside of coming at an unfortunate moment in the game was a 15 yard penalty and 3 points.  Those 3 points could have been recouped when Florida’s kicker Evan McPherson missed a field goal 7 yards shorter than the one successfully converted by the LSU kicker moments earlier.  So many things went wrong on that foggy and fateful night.  Perhaps all of it could’ve been overcome had Florida’s head coach Dan Mullen put aside his arrogance and played a healthy Kyle Pitts in the game.  He was only the best player on the team.  They say that God does not like ugly.   Perhaps the good faithful of Gainesville,  a town firmly planted in Florida’s Bible Belt,  should fall on a knee and repent for their two + year irrational slander against Marco Wilson.  Perhaps they should see that LSU game for what it was,  a team loss for a team that was built on a house of cards.  Just a thought and one I fully expect to be ignored.  Slander on Gator Nation and enjoy the pain that comes with it.

How to Prepare for Success at Football Camps

Football camps are a big part of the recruiting process.  With thousands upon thousands of prospects attending these camps looking to improve their recruiting chances,  it is important that you have a sound plan for how you will achieve at camp.  In this article,  I will give you nine surefire ways to make your camp experience a success.  Follow these steps and watch yourself move closer towards your goal of earning the college football scholarships that you desire.

Set Clear Goals

Define your goals for the camp, whether it’s improving specific skills, showcasing your abilities, or earning a spot on a team. Setting clear and realistic goals will provide you with a sense of purpose and motivation.  Goals are like maps,  they provide a sense of direction.  This makes everything that you do during the camp meaningful.  When you are heading to a destination,  you don’t just drive on any street or make any turn.  Every turn and street has a purpose and that is to get you to your destination.  This is the same with goals.

Visualize Success

Spend time visualizing yourself performing well at the camp. Imagine yourself making key plays, executing techniques flawlessly, and displaying confidence. Visualizations help build mental confidence and familiarize yourself with success scenarios. Another thing that visualization does is giving you the sense of having done this before.  When you have played something out in your mind so often,  when the moment comes it feels natural.  It’s almost like you get a sense of “this is supposed to happen.”  Sometimes,  without that element,  the moment feels awkward and your mind can sabotage the moment because it is not ready for it.  Visualization is prepping your mind for success so that it does not reject it.

Develop a Positive Mindset

Cultivate a positive mindset by focusing on your strengths and past successes. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and maintain a can-do attitude. Surround yourself with positive influences and teammates who uplift and support you.  This is a key element that a lot of camp goers fail to embrace.  95% of the time you will experience some kind of failure at camp.  Keeping a positive mindset keeps the failure from taking over and ruining the whole event.  You will get beat in a 1-on-1s,  you will slip in a drill,  you might turn the wrong way.  Delete that and get positive about the next rep.  A big part of what is being evaluated at camps are the mental attitude of the players.  Coaches know that this is a big factor in a player’s success as they move to the next level.

Manage Pre-Camp Nerves

It’s normal to feel nervous before a football camp, but learning to manage those nerves is essential. Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to calm your mind and body. Focus on positive self-talk to alleviate anxiety.  One other big thing to do is realize that nerves are normal.  Don’t feel like you are the only one who’s nervous.  Embrace the nerves and trick your mind into believing that you love the nerves.  Eventually,  you will truly begin to love it.  Many people get nervous going on a roller coaster.  Once they are off,  they are thrilled and off to the next ride in the park.  A famous American President by the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”  Recognize that you won’t die at camp,  so no matter what happens,  you will be stronger after the camp.

Review the Playbook

If you have access to the camp playbook or any relevant information, review it thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with the terminology, formations, and concepts that may be used during the camp. Having a solid understanding of the playbook will boost your confidence and help you make quick decisions on the field.  Sometimes playbooks are a part of longer more involved camps.  Other camps like recruiting camps don’t have playbooks typically.  However,  they do have drills and instruction.  The drills and instruction can all be found online at places like YouTube.  Familiarize yourself with the different drills that are run at the camps.  Formulate a plan on how you will perform at your best in those drills.  This gives you a leg up on the next camper that hasn’t done this and will be figuring things out as they are happening.  Preparation is key.

Visualize Adaptability

Football camps often involve working with new coaches, teammates, and systems. Visualize yourself adapting quickly to new coaching instructions, adjusting to different schemes, and building rapport with teammates. Mentally prepare yourself for the potential challenges of adapting to new environments.  This is another element that coaches are evaluating especially at college camps.  Coaches notice how you take instruction and communicate with them as well as with other camp goers.  This gives them insight into what kind of teammate you will be.  If all other things are equal between you and another prospect,  your ability to show adaptability may result in you getting the offer or MVP over him.

Embrace the Learning Process

Football camps are great learning opportunities. Approach the camp with a growth mindset, embracing the chance to absorb new knowledge, refine your skills, and receive feedback from coaches. Adopting a mindset of continuous improvement will help you stay motivated and open to learning.  This is the best thing that you get out of any camp that you go to.  While many evaluate the camp by whether or not they made the all camp team,  got invited to the super event or received an offer,  those who evaluate a camp by how much they learned tend to do better in the long run.  The NFL is littered with guys who did not get MVP at camps or weren’t invited to All Star Games after participating in a showcase.  Development is power and you should seek that first.

Focus on Effort and Attitude

Rather than fixating solely on outcomes, prioritize effort and attitude. Give your best effort in every drill and practice session, and maintain a positive and coachable attitude. Coaches value players who demonstrate a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn.  Effort and attitude = dog.  Guys who refuse to give up impress coaches the most.  A coach knows that you will often find yourself down in a game.  Having as many guys on the roster that refuse to fold means that you have a real chance to come back in a game or during a season when thing aren’t going well.  Furthermore,  scouts at a recruiting event know that these type of players tend to succeed too.  Guys with effort and a positive attitude often figure out ways to win in any situation.  You can’t put a price on that.

Stay Mentally and Physically Prepared

Ensure you get enough rest before the camp to maintain mental and physical freshness. Eat nutritious meals, hydrate properly, and engage in light physical activities to keep your body primed. Being physically prepared contributes to your mental readiness.  It would be a shame to do all of the things above and fail because your body did not hold up.  Fuel your body the right way so you can complete the mission.  If you don’t have enough gas and water in your car for your trip,  you’re never going to get there.  Make sure you are in good shape before the camp and that you have provided your body with the nutrients needed for the intense level of competition.  Some camp goers will crap out because they didn’t eat,  ate wrong or failed to drink enough water both before and during the event.  That sucks for them but is great for you.  Move ahead when they can no longer carry on.

Remember, mental preparation is an ongoing process, so continue to reinforce these strategies throughout the camp. By focusing on mental readiness, you’ll be better equipped to perform at your best and make the most of the opportunities presented during the football camp. Most often,  the little things have more of a meaning than camp goers think.  Remember that you are performing in front of experienced individuals who have seen what it takes to reach where you want to go.  Sometimes what you don’t think is important ends up being super important to the people running the camp.  Follow all of these steps and take nothing for granted.  You never know who’s watching and what they are looking for.  Excellence in all things should be your motto.

How to Win as a Walk-On: A Guide to Surviving the Process

Being a walk-on player in a college football program presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. While it may seem daunting, with determination, resilience, and a strategic approach, walk-ons can not only survive but also thrive in their college football journey. In this article, I’ll provide a comprehensive guide to help walk-on players navigate the competitive landscape of college football programs successfully. By following these strategies and embracing the walk-on mindset, you can make the most of your experience and carve out a significant role within the team.

Embrace the Underdog Mindset

This is A #1 in your survival. As a walk-on, it’s crucial to adopt an underdog mindset. Recognize that you will face additional hurdles compared to scholarship players and use this as motivation. Embrace the challenges, embrace the opportunity to prove yourself, and develop an unwavering belief in your abilities. Maintain a positive attitude, work ethic, and relentless drive, which will set you apart and gain the respect of coaches and teammates. Keep in mind that for you this will be about endurance.  Most of the scholarship players are going to be in a sprint to get on the field, make plays and try to move on to the next level.  You will start off with a more long term mindset.  You will encounter hurdle after hurdle but this will build up your mental toughness.  This will only serve you better in the long run.

Be a Student of the Game 

To survive as a walk-on, immerse yourself in the sport both on and off the field. Study game film, learn the playbook inside out, and understand the strategies and nuances of your position. Take advantage of any resources provided by the coaching staff, such as film sessions or extra study sessions. Being knowledgeable about the game will give you a competitive edge and demonstrate your commitment to improvement.  I totally understand that you must also juggle an academic workload that will be heavier than that of the scholarship players.  However,  time management is a major key to overall college success.  You will be learning that lesson in a most rigid way.  Cut out the time to educate yourself on the game.  Smart players are the ones that build up trust over time with coaches.  Once you establish that,  you are setting yourself up for bigger things. 

Seek Mentorship and Build Relationships 

Establishing relationships with teammates, coaches, and support staff is crucial for survival as a walk-on. Seek mentorship from experienced players who can guide you through the program and provide valuable advice. Cultivate positive relationships with coaches by displaying a strong work ethic, demonstrating coachability, and seeking feedback. Additionally, connect with academic advisors, strength and conditioning coaches, and other staff members who can offer support and guidance throughout your college football journey. It’s about making connections just like the rest of college and you never know how a connection made can serve you later.  Don’t do the hoodie,  don’t bother me thing in the building.  Be cheerful and engaging with everyone in the athletic facility.  It pays off. 

Maximize Your Opportunities 

As a walk-on, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Whether it’s during practice, scrimmages, or special teams, showcase your skills, work ethic, and versatility. Approach each opportunity with a high level of intensity and demonstrate your willingness to contribute in any capacity. Additionally, take advantage of offseason training programs, camps, and showcases to improve your skills and gain exposure to coaches from other programs. If you want a scholarship,  act like a scholarship player when it comes to attendance.  Don’t take the opportunity to miss activities because it’s not required of you as walk-on.  Show your face and the right people will eventually take notice.  Furthermore,  opportunities can be few and far in-between as a walk-on especially in the beginning.  Always be ready for them when they come.  Coming through in the clutch when there are injuries,  suspensions, etc. and there’s a good chance you get yourself a scholarship.

Excel in Academics 

Academic success is crucial for walk-on players. Maintain a strong focus on your studies and prioritize your responsibilities as a student-athlete. Develop effective time management skills to balance your football commitments with academic requirements. Seek support from academic advisors and utilize available resources to excel in your coursework. Strong academic performance not only ensures your eligibility but also enhances your overall value to the team and demonstrates your commitment to personal growth.  Let’s face it,  some walk-ons help boost the team’s overall GPA.  If you aren’t yet ready to contribute on the field,  at least server a purpose by running the GPA numbers up. 

Stay Physically and Mentally Prepared

To survive the demands of a college football program, you must prioritize physical and mental preparation. Maintain a consistent workout regimen to stay in peak physical condition and improve your performance. Work closely with strength and conditioning coaches to enhance your strength, speed, and agility. In addition, practice mental resilience techniques such as visualization, mindfulness, and goal setting to develop mental toughness and stay focused amidst challenges and competition.  Nothing builds and maintains confidence like preparation.  When it comes to football,  being physically prepared is a huge element.  It goes without saying that football is a physical sport.  Making sure you are on point in the weight room will give you a strong mindset.  It will also connect you with the strength and conditioning coach.  In most programs,  that coach holds a lot of weight in meetings.  If you create an ally in him,  there’s no telling what he may be will to do to help you.

Surviving as a walk-on in a college football program requires dedication, perseverance, and a strategic approach. Embrace the underdog mindset, immerse yourself in the game, seek mentorship, maximize opportunities, excel academically, and stay physically and mentally prepared. Remember that your journey as a walk-on can be greatly rewarding, and with hard work and the right amount of preparation you can have an amazing experience.  You can also establish strong connections that serve you well for years beyond the football field. 

Remember Him? Dorial Green-Beckham | #1 Recruit in Class of 2012

Dorial Green-Beckham, once hailed as the top-rated college football recruit in the 2012 class, experienced a career filled with ups and downs. Known for his incredible athleticism and towering stature, Green-Beckham’s journey in the football world took several unexpected turns.

Born on April 12, 1993, in St. Louis, Missouri, Green-Beckham grew up in a challenging environment. Raised in a low-income neighborhood, he faced numerous hardships during his formative years. However, his exceptional athleticism and football skills provided an outlet and an opportunity for a brighter future.

Green-Beckham would eventually attend Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Missouri.  There he developed  a rare combination of size, speed, and athleticism that set him apart from his peers. Standing at 6’6″ and weighing around 220 pounds, also ran a 4.4 forty.  He possessed the physical attributes that every college football program coveted.

Throughout his high school career, Green-Beckham shattered numerous records and established himself as a dominant force on the football field. His speed and agility allowed him to blow past defenders, while his size made him a formidable red-zone threat. His performances garnered attention from college coaches across the nation, with many of the top programs vying for his commitment.

During the recruitment process, Green-Beckham received scholarship offers from prestigious college football powerhouses, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, among others. Coaches and recruiters were captivated by his potential to make an immediate impact at the college level and to become a future NFL star.

Ultimately, Green-Beckham announced his commitment to the University of Missouri on February 1, 2012, during a highly publicized ceremony. His decision to stay in-state and represent the Missouri Tigers brought joy to the Tigers’ fanbase. The commitment was seen as a major coup for the Missouri football program, elevating their national profile and signaling their ability to attract top-tier talent.

After committing to the University of Missouri, expectations were sky-high for Green-Beckham. He made an immediate impact as a freshman, recording over 800 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. However, off-field issues plagued his collegiate career. Incidents involving marijuana and allegations of domestic violence marred his reputation and led to his dismissal from the Missouri football program.

Undeterred by these setbacks, Green-Beckham sought a fresh start and transferred to the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, due to NCAA transfer rules, he was required to sit out the 2014 season. Despite the year-long absence, he displayed glimpses of his immense talent during the 2015 season, contributing significantly to the Sooners’ offense. During his lone season with the Sooners, he showcased flashes of brilliance, accumulating 487 receiving yards and four touchdowns. However, inconsistencies in his play and concerns about his discipline and commitment persisted.

Despite the question marks surrounding his character, Green-Beckham declared for the 2015 NFL Draft. He was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the second round, offering him an opportunity to prove himself at the professional level. Unfortunately, his time in the NFL was marked by inconsistency and an inability to establish himself as a reliable target. He struggled to grasp the complexities of the game and faced challenges adjusting to the demands of the professional ranks.

Green-Beckham had brief stints with the Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, and Carolina Panthers, but failed to find a long-term role in any of those organizations. Ultimately, concerns about his work ethic, discipline, and overall commitment to the sport overshadowed his immense physical gifts.

Since 2016, Green-Beckham has been out of the NFL and has not played a regular-season game. His once-promising football career has been derailed by off-field issues and an inability to capitalize on his natural talents.

Despite the disappointments and setbacks, it’s important to recognize that Green-Beckham’s story serves as a cautionary tale. It highlights the significance of character, dedication, and discipline in an athlete’s journey. While his football career may not have reached the heights projected during his high school days, there is always the possibility for personal growth, redemption, and new opportunities in the future.