By D. Mark Mitchell
I have witnessed many changes in high school/college football over my 36 year career in the sports field, but none bigger than the increasing interest/publicity in college football recruiting.
Many football fans follow their favorite team’s recruiting on a daily basis, looking online at “recruiting services” that have sprung up, almost like weeds, to service this interest.
Each of these sites features a “recruiting expert” who will give you the low-down of each player. The sites offer subscriptions in case you want to know the “real scoop” that is only available if you pay a fee to be a subscriber to the site.
The popularity of these “for-fee” sites has increased, which means that reporting about recruiting has turned into big business.
It starts when high school teams play their first game. The people who run the recruiting sites will stand on the sidelines during pre-game warm-ups, video taping players being recruited or players with a possibility of being recruited by various colleges.
The videos are quickly edited and uploaded to the recruiting websites for subscribers to see.
The “recruiting analysts” will find and post as much information on each student athlete as possible. This helps the credibility of the site.
It’s great exposure for the student/athlete and the high school.
Generally, every time someone looks at a recruit from Opelika, it’s a positive for our high school.
These recruiting analysts will call the recruit and ask numerous questions. Some are reasonable, some are not.
The sites will post information about the recruit and list his colleges choices. Many are responsible and respect the rights of the recruit and his family of at least a little privacy; unfortunately some are not.
The “analysts” will continue to call the recruit through out the year until signing day. Some recruits are forced to block calls, change phone numbers or refuse to talk to so-called “recruiting experts.”
ESPN jumped on the “Recruiting Band Wagon” several years ago. The mega sports television network will have television cameras all over the U.S. watching high school senior athletes, surrounded by family, announce where they are going to college.
At the end of the day, the student athlete is picking college to continue his education and play football. A scholarship is worth thousands of dollars and is supposed to allow the student athlete to achieve a college diploma.
Some use the spotlight to stage spectacles and attract attention on national TV.
My advice is this: Keep it simple, make a choice and announce it with class.
The Opelika City Schools returned from Christmas holidays this week. OMS and OHS athletic departments continue with winter sports while beginning preparations for spring sports.
The OMS basketball eighth grade team is 12-6 heading into the last month of the beseason. Coach Blake Smalley continues to improve his team.
The OHS girls (10-10, Area 1-0) and boys (5-10, Area 0-1) jump in the middle of Area play this week. Both teams can still win their Area championship and host the Area championship game.
Opelika will host Auburn High at the OHS Sports Arena January 18. The girls start at 4:30 and boys at 6 p.m.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.