Former Bears star on recruiting: Be realistic
Former Chicago Bear Doug Plank makes his way through the crowd as he is introduced. He spoke about college recruiting. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Numbers from Doug Plank
More than 1,800: colleges offering financial aid for athletes
1 in 50: high school athletes who end up playing a college sport
Less than 1 in 100: high school athletes who play in college at the Division I (top) level of the NCAA
Typical number of
Hinsdale Central: 30-40
Hinsdale South: 30-40
Lyons Township: 40-50
Note: most college athletic scholarships are partial; they do not cover all costs of attending college.
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:23AM
Darien — Being realistic is a major key for high school athletes hoping to be recruited by colleges.
That was one of a few tips given to student athletes at Hinsdale South by former Chicago Bears star safety Doug Plank during a sports kickoff program for the 2012-13 school year.
“It’s a lot easier to get opportunities for a scholarship if you focus on the right school,” Plank said.
He urged students to match up to a school that has the academics they want and be a place they can play.
“Everyone can play someplace, but when you are going to have the benefit of having someone else pay for your education, you don’t always have a choice of school,” he said. “Everyone has a favorite school they want to go to, but that school most often isn’t going to be a realistic choice if you’re trying to get recruited.”
Early contact with colleges a high school athlete is interested in attending also is important, Plank said.
“As athletes, you need to create some competition,” he said. “You want to get as many schools as possible interested in your skills because once somebody wants something, there’s competition.
“It’s also very important to be a good person. Your attitude can make the difference; always use respect when you talk to college coaches.”
Plank, who played at Ohio State University, said it’s very important for parents to be involved with their children who are involved in high school sports.
“It means so much to them to have your support,” he told parents at Hinsdale South. “Parents can be a huge help in getting the information needed to learn about recruiting.”
Getting familiar with the rules for recruiting, as set by the NCAA, which governs a good portion of college sports, is a great start, Plank said.
NCAA rules stipulate the who, when and conditions of the recruiting process. The rules seek, as much as possible, to control intrusions into the lives of student-athletes.
The NCAA defines recruiting as “any solicitation of prospective student-athletes or their parents by an institutional staff member or by a representative of the institution’s athletics interests for the purpose of securing a prospective student-athlete’s enrollment and ultimate participation in the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program.
“When you go to a school, it will have a major impact on your life,” Plank said. “It’s not a four-year impact on your life when you go to college, it’s a 40-year impact because so many things that come after college happen because of the four years you spend there.”
Hinsdale South senior Zach Guritz, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 280 pound offensive lineman, is being recruited a handful of colleges, including Brown and Cornell universities of the Ivy League.
“It’s very helpful to have (Plank) come in and talk about recruiting,” Guritz said. “It’s very important to know all the rules about recruiting, and you need to be honest about your skill set.”
At Hinsdale Central, Athletic Director Dan Jones said the school’s PTO sponsors an annual recruiting night in February, which features several guest speakers.
“The idea is to educate the parents and the students on how the process works and let them know about the resources we can provide,” Jones said.
At Lyons Township High School, a college recruiting night for student-athletes is conducted each year in late October/early November, said Athletic Director John Grundke.
“We also work hard to talk with our kids and find out who’s interested,” Grundke said. “And we encourage freshmen through seniors to attend the recruiting night with their parents.”