For prep athletes, strategies for school search

Benefits, need for using recruiting services is a matter of debate

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Skyview senior Jabari Marshall plans to sign his national letter of intent this morning to play football for Northern Arizona University.

Signing Day is a culmination of years of work for athletes such as Marshall. Practice. Weight training. Clinics. And, of course, excellence on the field.

Marshall also got some help in the recruiting process.

His family paid a fee to NCSA Athletic Recruiting, a service that helps athletes in all sports. NCSA got Marshall's name out to colleges and helped educate the Marshall family with the do's and don'ts associated with recruiting.

"It was awesome," said Dennis Marshall, Jabari's father. "I didn't have a good understanding of the process. It was a Godsend."

This is a success story for the Marshall family and the recruiting service. But some area high school coaches say parents should be careful. While some services might work, none can guarantee a college scholarship.

Also, while exposure is rarely a bad thing in terms of recruiting, families do not need to go into debt to get that exposure.

"Anyone that is telling you that you need to market your son, you might as well just give them the money. They're going to steal from you," Camas coach Jon Eagle said. "They're preying on the hopes and dreams of families."

Dennis Marshall said the folks at NCSA never guaranteed a scholarship, just exposure for Jabari.

"I had heard of a lot of places taking money and walking away, but these guys really delivered," Dennis Marshall said.

The key, Eagle was saying, is that it is not needed.

Every college football program that offers scholarship money has access to any high school football video as long as the high school is using Hudl, the video analysis software that has become popular in recent years. High school coaches use Hudl to show the their players proper technique or to prepare for an opponent. Those same videos can be viewed by the college coaches for recruiting, Eagle said.

"We have people who want to do anything for their kids," Eagle said. "If you want to do anything to help your kids, make sure your kids' teams are on Hudl. Or you can mail video highlights to any college in America. You can mail it to them."

Union coach Cale Piland agrees.

"If the college coach has interest in athletes of ours, it is very easy to get the video directly to the colleges," Piland said.

Still, the NSCA did more than just send video of Marshall to Northern Arizona. Dennis Marshall said the family viewed webinars, read the Q&A section and used the phone services to talk to a recruiting specialist.

Dennis and Jabari also could see which coaches looked up Jabari's recruiting page. That way they knew who was interested, and they could send more information to that specific program.

Dennis Marshall said he paid around $900 for the service, which included information for Jabari's older brother, Avery, who is attending Clark College now and hopes to return to football one day.

"I don't think it can hurt," Skyview coach Steve Kizer said. "You don't have to do it, but it sure can't hurt."

Union football has had more than a half-dozen players earn football scholarships in recent years.

"My experience with our guys who have been scholarship kids, the recruiting services really didn't play a role," Piland said. "For other kids, that might not be the case."

Some families, such as the Marshalls, appreciated the education they received, as well as the exposure for Jabari.

That's what every athlete, every parent wants in the recruiting game. Exposure.

The Marshall family is "absolutely satisfied" with their experience, Dennis Marshall said.

Yet high school coaches just want parents to know to be careful. Not everybody has had the same result as the Marshall family.