Back in the day (as in 10 years ago), high school stars who were hoping to gain an athletic scholarship had to send colleges letters and an actual tape of their highlights. It was an elongated process that today’s technology has fixed and made absolutely obsolete. Colleges still send their basic letters of expressing interest or the letters in which they invite recruits to their private summer camps. But this is the last archaic aspect of college recruiting. Social media has taken the recruiting process by storm and now it is a lot easier to be noticed which can be either good or bad.
Positive Effects of Social Media
The introduction of Twitter and Facebook made college coaches reinvent the way they thought about recruiting. Coaches had to create Facebook and Twitter accounts to be more accessible to their top targets. Through these social media platforms, coaches could have contact with their top recruits 24/7. This aspect of recruiting is present now more than ever because Millennials always have their phone with them and have notifications pop up right on their phone. This is reflective of my behavior too so that whenever a recruit direct messages (dm) me, I see it right away and respond within the hour.
Twitter has become more of the recruiting platform than Facebook, so Twitter is where all the coaches and recruits interact. Twitter has become the major tool used to contact recruits for the first time. Talking with current 2017 recruits, they state that their first interactions with coaches are almost always on Twitter. The coaches will randomly direct message them and they continue to talk and get to know each other a bit.
The initial contact is crucial because this is the first step for these recruits toward receiving an offer. The recruits will send the recruiters their highlights, but the recruiters are also trying to feel out what kind of a person the recruit is. In many cases, coaches will talk to the recruit for months before ever offering. Then when the time comes coaches offer scholarships as 2017 safety Trajon Cotton explains, “Coach Neal…” Oregon’s secondary’s coach “and I have been talking for a little bit of time then he randomly DMed (direct messaged) me on Twitter and told me I had a full ride scholarship to Oregon!”
Announcing offers is common practice on Twitter, but recruits often list their top schools as well. It lets their followers know that they are actively involved in the process with these athletes. People from Maine can be up-to-date with athletes all the way to California or Washington. It brings recruiting fanatics together and gives them more indication of what is going on in the off-season.
Social media has impacted recruiting in so many positive ways. It allows athletes to easily contact coaches and for coaches to easily contact recruits. Coaches can offer these kids full ride scholarships which will secure their future and fans of their favorite teams can actively follow a prospect’s journey towards his college dream.
Negative Effects of Social Media
Focusing intently on the recruits, Twitter, along with the media, puts these recruits under a major spotlight. Dylan Moses, a top five recruit in the 2017 class, has over 13,000 followers, and the 2016 number one overall recruit, Rashan Gary, has over 20,000 followers. Twitter has given these types of recruits a great deal of attention. The fact that a sophomore marketing student is writing this very article referring to recruits that aren’t even remotely close to where he lives is testament to that. With all this fame, these recruits are scrutinized in everything they do or say.
Some kids have nasty and abusive tweets directed at them just because they chose to commit to a different school than the one favorited by the “super fan.” The recruits are badgered and inappropriate topics such as eligibility are discussed on Twitter and people don’t seem to think twice about it. Just a little bit ago one of the top quarterbacks in the nation decommited from Alabama to Georgia, his hometown school, and people were saying: “u nvr had a chance at Bama anyway. Enjoy coming in 2nd for the next 4 years Jake” or “have fun losing to Bama and never competing for a championship”. Clearly this can get ugly and out of hand. These adults are putting down a 17-year-old kid just because he chose to go to a different school. This is a major negative effect of social media recruiting.
The positives of social media clearly outweigh the negatives. There will always be those “super fans” who will criticize every action a recruit takes, but the easy access to coaches, the scholarship offers, the encouraging words from real fans, are what make the evolution of social media into one of the most extensive and important recruiting tool the best thing that has happened to college football recruiting in years.