Stand out and get noticed. Lacrosse is growing at the youth and high school levels at a faster rate than at the collegiate level, resulting in a slightly more competitive landscape in the college recruiting process. All players should be determined and prepared to work hard to impress college coaches and show them why you belong on their roster.
We had the opportunity to speak with Coach Richard Carrington of Tusculum College about the college recruiting process, and he expressed the importance of standing out and getting noticed by coaches, not only of D2 schools but of all divisions.
1. What advice do you have for players interested in playing D2 lacrosse?
Student-Athletes interested in attending a NCAA D2 institution should start by speaking with coaches about the differences between the three NCAA divisions. D1 and D2 are the only divisions that can provide athletic scholarships, and they’re the only divisions that require student-athletes to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. However, D1 and D2 are not identical. D1 and D2 have different requirements for eligibility. There are more differences between the three divisions, but those are some of the more prominent differences. Regardless of the division a student-athlete gravitates to, it is important that he or she find the division that is both an academic and athletic fit.
2. What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?
Persistent communication is always the best way for recruits to get on our radar. In today’s recruiting landscape, coaches are being bombarded by emails from interested prospects. Recruits need to stand out by being persistent and personal when communicating with coaches. Research the school before you contact the coach. We do not offer engineering at Tusculum, so if a recruit emails me and states that he’s looking to major in engineering, that tells me that this recruit has not done any research and this email probably went to about 50 other college coaches. Also, include links to your game film in your emails to college coaches, and let coaches know where you’ll be playing in the fall and summer tournament season.
3. What areas of player development would you recommend players to focus on?
As boring as it sounds, all positions must focus on their stick skills. At our level, we really do not spend too much time teaching how to catch and throw. We put our student-athletes in drills and game-like situations to practice stick work at full speed and under pressure. If a student-athlete comes to us, and he cannot demonstrate that level of stick work, most of his practice will probably be spent hitting the wall.
4. What’s a question, specific to Tusculum College you wished players asked you more during the recruiting process?
I wish more prospects would ask about our very unique academic structure we offer at Tusculum, which we call the Block System. The Block System allows our students to take just one class for 18 days. The exam for that class is on the 18th day, and then you’re done with that class forever. We then have a four-day Block Break with no school, and when we return, students take a new class for 18 days. The Block System allows our students to focus on just one subject at a time. Our students do not have to skip around from math to English and then to science. Our students also do not have to cram for five exams at the end of the semester. Additionally, our students still have their weekends off and receive all the traditional breaks you’d find at most colleges (i.e. Fall Break, Winter Break, Spring Break, etc).
5. What type of player do you look for–raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?
At Tusculum we’re looking for prospects that standout in at least one area of skill or athletic attribute. Raw athletes typically lack in consistent stick skills and lacrosse IQ, so for us to recruit them, we need to see superior speed, agility, strength, or size. In more refined lacrosse players, we’re looking for prospects who excel in shooting, feeding, and demonstrating a general “slickness” in their game.
6. What is special about being a student-athlete at Tusculum?
Being a Tusculum Pioneer means that you’re accepting the challenge of building our second-year lacrosse program into a perennial contender in D2. At Tusculum, we feel that our students enjoy an educational setting that is conducive to being a student-athlete. We offer an academic system that fits the hectic training schedule of an athlete. We also feature some of the best athletic facilities in D2. Tusculum is one of the few schools in our region to have an indoor turf practice facility, which allows us to play box lacrosse or practice inside if there is inclement weather.
7. How has the accelerated recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting?
I am not an advocate of the accelerated recruiting landscape, but the negative effects of early recruiting haven’t really hurt D2 schools yet. When I started coaching collegiately ten years ago, there were still plenty of D1 prospects floating around in the fall of their senior year. Now, the D1 prospects are generally committed well before they begin their senior year of high school. This may make life easier for D2 and D3 coaches, but ultimately, I think it is bad for college lacrosse. Our transfer rates are at an all-time high, because prospects are rushing into decisions.
8. What are your do’s and don’ts, likes and dislikes of recruiting videos? If you have any.
We actually ask our recruits to include one or two of their best games along with a highlight film, because anyone can look good in a highlight film. At the D1 and D2 level most coaches won’t award athletic scholarship money based on a highlight film alone. When I watch recruit films, I like to see prospects playing against good competition. I also want to see them making some mistakes, because so much of our game is displaying the ability to respond from mistakes.
9. Some final thoughts from Coach Carrington
This is a great time to be a college lacrosse coach, because there are so many prospects out there. Our game is growing at the youth and high school level at a much faster rate than the collegiate level. You have to put in the work to become recruited. Develop the skills that will make you stand out on the field during summer tournaments. Play multiple sports in high school. Get some good game and tournament film. Be persistent when communicating with coaches. Coaches are on the road all summer looking for ideal prospects, and we’re going to find them, but it’s even better when a quality prospect finds us first.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Tusculum College or Richard Carrington.