Super Bowl champ speaks with athletes

by CJ Amponin
Ramstein High School

Being stationed in Europe, many high school student athletes may believe their chances of being recruited are diminished because they don’t get visibility from college coaches. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.   

On Oct. 7, student athletes in the KMC and their parents were treated to seminar by former NFL Super Bowl champion Derrick Mayes at the Ramstein High School gymnasium. Approximately 250 people showed up for the National Collegiate Scouting Association seminar Mr. Mayes gave titled “College Recruiting Simplified.”
The seminar focused on the five things every recruit needs to understand about the recruiting process and the five things student athletes need to do to ace the recruiting process.

Mr. Mayes started by telling the audience, “You’re on the clock.” The recruitment process does not begin during the athlete’s junior or senior year. It can start as early as seventh or eighth grade. Athletes shouldn’t  wait for a college coach to contact them. They must initiate communication and convey an interest to be noticed. Mr. Mayes recommended contacting at least 30 to 50 schools to improve the chances.  

Second, college coaches don’t just discover talented athletes by visiting high schools and camps. They depend on verified information from reliable sources, including academic qualifications. 

Third, Mr. Mayes reiterated that the recruiting process today is not like it was when he was recruited to Notre Dame University in the early 1990s. Every college staff is in a budget crunch these days and almost all of them evaluate prospects online. There won’t be a section in the stands full of college coaches watching and trying to recruit students.

Many colleges may offer a scholarship to talented athletes they’ve never personally met. Creating a 30 second highlight video clip and posting it to an online profile makes it easier for college coaches to evaluate the athlete.

Fourth, most opportunities to play college athletics are not Division I programs. Student athletes and parents need to be realistic.

“Once they wrap their heads around the fact that there are over 1,700 U.S. colleges and universities that sponsor collegiate athletics and able to offer financial packages, and 80 percent of those opportunities fall outside of Division I, a whole new world opens up,” Mr. Mayes said.

Less than 1 percent of student athletes get full rides to Division I schools, he said.  
Finally, student athletes cannot rely on their high school coaches to connect them to college coaches. Most high school coaches do not have the time or resources to make sure their athletes are recruited, so it is up to the athlete and their families to reach out to the college coaches. Student athletes need to develop a game plan and get evaluated. Using a quote from his former Fighting Irish head coach, Lou Holtz, Mr. Mayes said a student’s college career “is not a four-year decision, it’s a 40 year decision.”

Recruits need a step by step plan in order to successfully navigate through the recruiting process. To do it right, it takes hard work, perseverance and team effort between the athlete, parents and credible inside recruiting experts. 

Mr. Mayes retired from the NFL after six years playing for the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He is currently the CEO and director of Executive Action Sports and Entertainment.

Additionally, he is an educational speaker for the National Collegiate Scouting Association, traveling around the world educating high school athletes and their parents on the college recruiting process. 

During the first week in October, Mr. Mayes presented the “College Recruiting Simplified” seminar at six different locations in Germany, reaching student athletes in Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Bamberg, Wiesbaden, Baumholder, and the KMC area. Mr. Mayes intends on visiting four to five Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Italy in the Spring and then be back to Germany in November 2011.