NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodDe Pere


Are they worth it? Recruiting websites and the online era of college sports recruiting

Posted at 7:58 PM, Jun 11, 2024

DE PERE (NBC 26) — Though a fraction of high school athletes ultimately play in the NCAA, the current era of recruiting provides athletes numerous avenues to make themselves visible to coaches. We examine which online strategies are most effective for recruits, in this edition of Beyond the Score.

  • We spoke with a college coach and three soon-to-be college athletes:
  • Personal emails and full game tapes are more attractive to coaches than highlight clips and emails from third-party recruiting websites, Gary Grzesk said
  • Posting highlights on personal social media channels is more effective than using recruiting websites, Baumgart and Corso agreed
  • Coaches monitor recruits' social media profiles to identify red flags
  • Video shows the perspective and tips from each athlete and coach

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

College coaches get a ton of emails daily from high schoolers trying to play at the next level.

So what makes certain recruits stand out? And do recruiting websites work?

We're talking with athletes and coaches about why recruiting is not an exact science.

"It kinda just gets you scared, wondering, 'Well, maybe I'm not going to. Maybe this sport isn't for me.'"

Former West De Pere three-sport standout Andrew Baumgart was intimidated by other athletes on social media.

"You're seeing all these other guys getting offers and offers and offers and you're like, 'Well, why am I not? Am I not doing the right thing?'" Baumgart said.

So he changed up his social profiles.

"My speed, for my size, so my 40 time," Baumgart said. "Putting that up there was definitely something that helped a lot."

Former Neenah basketball star Brady Corso says he also marketed himself everywhere, from social to highlight tapes and emails to coaches.

But he didn't pay the thousand dollars or more for a premium profile on a recruiting site.

"I just used the free one," Corso said. "But most of my highlights and videos and stuff, I would post on Twitter."

Baumgart tried the paid version of the same website — and wasn't impressed.

"Once I got through the [recruiting] journey, it was like, 'I don't need any help,'" he said. "I can kind of guide myself through it. I feel it's something that a lot of people don't need. Even though it might seem like the right thing, I don't think it's a good fit."

We reached out to a recruiting site, to ask about pricing and success, but didn't hear back by the deadline.

St. Norbert College men's basketball head coach Gary Grzesk says he sees emails from recruiting sites, but would rather hear from the athlete.

"Through a third party, it might just be a massive email that gets sent out to a number of different coaches," Grzesk said. "So certainly, the personal one directly is a little more important to me."

And he says better than video, or even a full game, is seeing it in person.

"To see that amount of kids in one space, in a gym, going live, is still better than getting a highlight film emailed to us," Grzesk said.

Grzesk says he also scans social media for red flags — something he taught his daughter, Gracie.

"Anything you post, it's out there for the world," Gracie Grzesk said. "That's always something I've talked to my parents about."

Gracie will play basketball for the Badgers in the fall. She says she focused on balance during her recruiting process.

"It definitely can be overwhelming and stressful, especially during the school year, with school and sports and everything," Grzesk said. "But it definitely is exciting, like knowing you're wanted by schools, getting the mail, getting the calls, getting the texts."

Despite their concerns, Corso and Baumgart will also play in college this fall: Corso at St. Leo University in Florida, and Baumgart at Lindenwood University.

"Stick with it, and continue, and wait, and be patient," Baumgart said.

Less than 8% of high school football players and around 4% of high school basketball players go on to play in the NCAA — so even with the best online presence, the odds are stacked against student-athletes.