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Plant City Observer Thursday, Jun. 28, 2018 4 months ago

What’s on Kline’s Mind? What to do when a recruiter leaves you

Someone just sold you on their college sports program and left after you committed. Now what?
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

One of the coolest things about the CKB football camps that come to Plant City is the interaction with pro athletes who stop by to give back to the community. Solomon Patton was this year’s guest speaker/coach and, in his speech to the campers, he touched on something I think is important for anyone looking to play college sports.

In a nutshell, what do you do when the person who brings you into a program suddenly leaves?

Not every high school athlete in the recruiting process is going to have to deal with this, but there will definitely be some from the Plant City area that do. In Patton’s case, Florida Gators assistant coach Billy Gonzales recruited him and left for LSU shortly after Patton committed to UF. Patton talked about his thoughts and feelings in that moment and said it came as a shock, especially since he found out by watching TV. Fortunately for him, Urban Meyer still wanted him to be a Gator and kept in contact.

I’ve talked to many area athletes about the recruiting process and have known several who had coaches bail on them for one reason or another. It’s a sobering experience, but not something that has to knock you down a peg or two. You can still bounce back and play college sports if you keep your head up.

No matter what, the first thing that will happen after said recruiter leaves is the news break. You’ll either find out through the grapevine like Patton did or, if you’re lucky, someone from the school will contact you with the news. You may feel jilted hearing the person who just spent so much time convincing you to commit to their program decided to leave without warning you, but keep in mind that they’re doing their job in the business of college sports and, sometimes, new opportunities arise and people always want to be where their grass may be greener. You wouldn’t want to play at a program where the first thing the recruiter tells you is how their time is limited and you may never hear from that program again after they leave.

Focus on who’s left at the program instead. Did they give you a call, email, Twitter DM or visit to keep you in the loop and gauge your interest? If they did, read on. If they left you hanging, especially if you’ve tried reaching out to them, it’s probably time to de-commit and open up your options.

Say your program still wants you. Make an assessment of who is there and what situation you’re walking into. Did your recruiter leave because something is going on with the coaches and program that may lead to big changes or big trouble, or did they leave a stable program for an opportunity to grow as a coach? Did you agree to commit because your skills really make you a good fit for the program or because your recruiter talked you into it? You need to get in with a program where you like the opportunities available to you and feel like you could be a legitimate contributor when your time comes. If you like that program with or without your primary recruiter and the remaining staff likes you, that’s a good look. If you have concerns, it won’t hurt to open up your recruiting. If you’ve got the skills and the GPA, you will be wanted somewhere.

If a new recruiter steps in and decides they like another athlete at your position more than you, you’ve got a tough dilemma. Should you stay or should you go? If you’re dead set on playing for that team and think you have the chops to compete against anyone for that roster spot or playing time, go for it. Make sure your film’s good and show everyone you’re putting in work like no other. If you feel like you’re getting too much of a cold shoulder, move on. Maybe you end up at a smaller school, but you’re giving yourself a better shot at not only making it onto the field but also proving yourself to whoever you’re trying to impress. Pro team scouts? Bigger programs? Doesn’t matter — your odds of getting what you want are greater actually playing for a smaller program than keeping the benches warm forever at a larger one.

College sports can be the most fun you’ll ever have with the game, so don’t let some recruiter’s disappearing act ruin it all for you.

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013.

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