Recruiting Tips #4: How To Properly Send Film To Colleges

by Taylor Barton

It’s been fun to share my “Recruiting Tips” to everyone. The previous 3 I’ve written have been received very positively, so I’ll keep putting them out as long as they’re relevant and helpful. The recruiting process is complex, difficult, and unique to every kid and family. These “Tips” don’t guarantee a scholarship offer, but if you follow them they’ll definitely help bring you closer to one.


I have kids and parents tell me all the time that they put a highlight tape together and sent it out to dozens of schools. They tell me how great the tape is, and all the schools they sent it to. They fully expect to get lots of responses, as well as positive feedback from the coaches that watch it. Then a few days pass, then a few weeks, then even a few months, and nothing happens. They don’t understand why, and question whether the schools received the film they sent. I laugh because I think back to my sophomore and junior years in high school. I did things the same way, had similar expectations, and eventually had the same non-results. I didn‘t understand why any of the schools I sent film to weren’t interested. I spent a lot of time putting those tapes together, and knew I was more talented than a lot of the starting quarterbacks they currently had. It took until I was a coach at OSU to really see how things worked behind the scenes, and understand where I went wrong. Through my recruiting process, I made mistakes and learned the hard way. I went through this process twice as a player, and spent a year on the OSU staff in recruiting meetings. Those experiences gave me an intimate knowledge of how this process really works. Learn from the mistakes I made and prevent making the same ones. As a result, you should have a successful and positive outcome.


First and foremost, it turns out the schools DID receive the film I sent. The problem is that the coaches on the staff didn’t know it was there, didn’t watch it, and didn’t really care. The 1st thing to know is that unless colleges request your tape, it’s pretty much guaranteed they’re not going to watch it. Imagine how many game and highlight tapes are sent to a school every day. When I coached at OSU, we received 25-50 game or highlight tapes at our offices every day! There was actually a room separate from our coaches offices where all the DVD‘s sent to us on a daily basis were stored. These were sent to us from kids, their coaches, or their parents from every corner of the country. Our coaches never knew they were there, so they never watched them. The only films they actually watched were the ones they personally requested, from either the recruit or their coach. There’s a great way to put together tape to send out to colleges. It shows them everything they want to see, and actually takes them less time to watch than most DVD’s. Some people send in a highlight tape, and some people send in game tape. I ask you this: How many kids have you seen look bad in a highlight film? Have you ever seen a QB throw an incompletion or interception in a highlight tape? Have you ever seen a RB fumble, or WR drop a pass in a highlight tape? Have you ever seen a LB miss a tackle, or a DL get pancake blocked in a highlight tape? The answer to all of the following is no. That’s because it’s a highlight tape and everyone is putting their best plays on it. I’ve never seen anyone look bad on a highlight tape. Some stand out more than others, but for the most part all of them look good. So it’s very difficult for a college coach watching a highlight tape to really distinguish between a kid who looks good and has some talent, versus a kid they decide they want to offer. If a full game tape is sent in, they might only be able to see the recruit make a few plays. They can’t see everything they want to. It might take them a while until the kid they are watching makes a play they want to see. We all know how busy college coaches are, and how limited they are with time. They will frequently get impatient and only watch a portion of the tape that was sent into them. As a result they end up missing plays, which might mean the difference in them liking a kid and offering him a scholarship or not.


So if that’s the case, what’s the proper way to send film? I deal with coaches on a yearly basis from every level, and believe I’ve found the most effective method. Instead of choosing between sending them either highlights or copies of full games, send them a combination of the two. But you shouldn’t send an entire highlight film. You also don‘t want to send them 4 full games. I tell kids and their families that they should pick out about 10-15 of the best highlight plays they have. If they’re a senior, it doesn’t have to be just senior film. They can use any varsity film from their freshmen, sophomore, junior, or senior years. Then they want to put the 1st or 2nd half of 3 separate games immediately after the 10-15 highlights. So when the final DVD is sent to the school, it consists of 10-15 highlight plays followed by 3 separate games, with only a half from each. Let me explain the method behind the madness.


If a college coach is going to watch your tape, you need to draw their attention right away. With highlights to start out, and your very best 10-15 plays at that, you’ve accomplished that goal. Once they see those highlights, they have a good idea of your ability. Anymore than that is saturating your own market. Now they are very interested, and want to see some game film. As I mentioned earlier, they know most kids are going to look good in a highlight tape. At that point, they get a chance to see the 1st or 2nd half from 3 separate games. If you only send them a full game, they probably won’t watch it all. Also, most anyone can have at least 1 really good game a year. By sending in 3 separate games, they see that you aren’t just a 1 hit wonder and consistently play well. Remember, no one looks bad in highlights. In one of the 1st or 2nd half games you put on the tape, you might have a few negative plays. They want to see that. I repeat, they want to see that. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t want to see a lot of negative plays. That would mean you’re not very good. The reason they want to see something negative happen is because they want to see how you respond. If you threw an interception last series, how do you come out the next series? Are you gun shy? If you don’t have a pass thrown your way the whole half as a WR, do you still put out great effort blocking on running plays? They understand that if you‘re playing for them in the future, you’re going to have to deal with some type of adversity. They want to know what kind of mental toughness you have. They want to see a kid make adjustments in a game, and fix something they’ve been struggling with. So obviously they want to see the great things the athlete they’re watching can do. They need to know he’s talented enough to play for them. But they also need to know that he can handle things when they go wrong. They want to know about a kid’s character, and that can only be seen in game tape, not all highlights.


I‘m going to quickly summarize what was just talked about. There’s a very effective way to put together a DVD to send to colleges. Put your very best 10-15 highlight plays on a disc followed by a 1st or 2nd half from 3 separate games. We draw the attention of the coach with highlights, without overdoing it. Once we’ve sparked their interest, we show them how you do it in a game setting. We don’t however, send in entire games. By showing them a half of 3 different games, they’ll watch all of them and be able to see your consistency. They know you didn’t just have 1 good game, as pretty much every kid does throughout the course of a full season. If you follow this advice, it doesn’t guarantee a scholarship. It doesn’t guarantee that a school will like or even recruit you. I assure you it will increase the odds that a coach watches the entire DVD you send. He’ll get a chance to see a little of everything you do, which will allow him to make a very accurate assessment. He will then make a decision of whether or not he wants to pursue you any further. And at the end of the day, that’s the best you can ask for.