We live in a copycat world. I follow a lot of football recruiting analysts (shoutout to Mike “The Godfather” Farrell of Rivals.com for the main inspiration) that do weekly mailbags to answer questions from their followers. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I tried it years ago when I was at Inside Lacrosse and now that I’m into Year 4 of Recruiting Rundown, I figured it would be an awesome way to interact with people and provide helpful information. The first mailbag in late September well enough that I mustered up the courage to open up my DM’s on Twitter to allow for questions, though you can still e-mail me questions if that’s easier. Feel free to remain anonymous, I get it, you don’t want your son embarrassed that you asked a silly question for the world to see.
What are your thoughts on poaching? It seems like there’s a ton of it going on lately and it’s so controversial so I would love to hear what you have to say! -Kevin in Long Island
That’s a loaded question! I don’t have a problem with poaching because, in reality, it’s really correcting some of the downfalls of early recruiting (RIP), right? I’ll do my best to explain.
College decisions are not meant to be made during freshman or sophomore year – kids aren’t developed enough in just about every way. It’s a time to figure things out, mature, make mistakes and learn from them….. not a time to visit and choose some of the top lacrosse schools in the country. I say all of this because what’s interesting is that many of the Class of 2018 standouts that have switched commitments in the last few weeks were among the first few players to commit in the class back when they were freshmen. There are many different situations – some de-commit with the hopes of “trading up” academically or lacrosse-wise, while others were pursued rigorously by competitors that noticed a dramatic on-field improvement.
To me, there’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s not a bigger decision in a kid’s life than what college they select, besides maybe deciding on the woman they eventually choose to marry. These kids owe it to themselves to find the very best fit possible, even if that means ruffling some feathers along the way, I suppose.
Here’s where I do, however, have a problem with poaching and looking around: dishonesty. I’ve heard so many instances of recruits not being honest with the schools they have verbally committed to. I know it’s an incredibly difficult situation to handle, but there’s a way to do it with class. If you’re going to look around on your own or entertain the so-called poachers out there, tell the coaches at the school you’re currently set to go to. All of these top college coaches talk to each other way more than you realize, so even if you’re lying or keeping something from them, they’ll almost certainly find out quickly. If you feel like you want to be 100 percent confident in your decision, consult the people you’re closest to and then go from there: take visits, do research, take advice from your club/HS coaches, etc. Just be honest with all parties involved and things should work out.
All in all, the trend of poaching is something I’m completely fine with. I think it’s a process that many schools may not like, but it’s a perfectly healthy byproduct within early recruiting. So many schools rolled the dice on kids that were stalwarts as freshmen. Some of those recruits are still the cream of the crop, some aren’t. Poaching corrects some of those “mistakes” and, as I mentioned earlier, allows colleges and kids the opportunity to find a better fit at a time where they’re more confident and closer to a player’s college career.
My last thought: do not assume that all switches that I tweet out are poaches. I tend not to publicize de-commitments, so maybe that makes things tricky, along with the wording (I try to use “flipped” when it’s a poach, but sometimes I have a brain fart and still put “switched”) on the tweets. Again, there are different scenarios. Some players are rejected by admissions. Others are dropped. Some may want to be closer to home to be near a sick parent or sibling.
If a player de-commits from a school then finds a better fit a month or so later, that’s not a poach! I realize that tons of people can’t stand the word “poaching” because of the negative connotation that comes with it, so if anybody has a better word to use then I’m all ears!
What are the positives of taking a postgrad year, and how does that affect recruiting? -Will in North Carolina
There are tons of advantages to taking a PG year and I’m certainly a big advocate of them. The proof is definitely in the pudding with players like Rob Pannell, Billy Bitter, Christian Walsh, Myles Jones, Michael Quinn and Matt Kavanagh benefitting tremendously from taking one before college.
I see many situations where taking a PG year is hugely advantageous in the long run whether you’re super young for your class, in need of better structure or a top non-hotbed recruit that wants to play with and against the best before college. It all begins with the academics though. The classes you take at top prep schools, especially the known commodities in New England, will absolutely get you ready for college and life.
The process of deciding whether a postgrad year is right for you or not is a process that should be well thought out and carefully handled. Within early recruiting, many kids committed to schools that required them to do a PG year before enrolling. That’s not always the best route, considering it’s hard to know as a freshman or sophomore whether you need one. Even if you put that aside, I think taking a PG year is a great way to challenge yourself no matter the situation.
Just heavily weigh the pros and cons and see what comes out on top. Well, you should be doing that with every major decision…
Is it too late for me, an uncommitted 2020 player, to get looked at by a good D1 school or do I still have time? -Anonymous
Absolutely not. Back in April when the rules changed, I really felt like these new regulations would be huge for the players that shared this sentiment. I get it, it was hard to see all of these 2020’s committing and wonder when your time was gonna come, but things are different now.
Around 150 members of the Class of 2020 have committed. Several of the top players will end up switching decisions, likely helped by improved grades. Others may get dropped. Of course, several of the top schools like Duke, Notre Dame and Yale haven’t publicly taken a ’20 yet.
There are hundreds and hundreds of Division I spots left – get to work and realize that college coaches are always looking to fill spots, even if that’s rising senior summer. The door never really closes. Right now, put the work in across the board to get recruited when 9/1/2018 hits.