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Turning to Tech: Younger generation of recruits is mastering virtual recruiting

Highlight reels, social media interaction high on prospects’ priority lists right now

Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com
Mead’s Elijah Knudsen, who is finishing out his sophomore year, already has his ears pinned back in his efforts to promote himself to college recruiters by utilizing various video platforms to post highlight reels and workout films.
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Editor’s note: This is the final part of a series from Brad Cochi and BoCoPreps.com on some of the ways technology is keeping those in the sports world busy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part one published March 31, part two was April 3. 

Elijah Knudsen didn’t expect to spend the spring of his sophomore year at Mead High in quarantine, but student-athletes like him and many others who hope to play collegiate sports are making the best of the current situation.

Still, when you’re a prep prospect trying to get your name out there, it becomes increasingly difficult to do that when coronavirus-mandated social distancing makes it impossible to practice with teams or play games and the NCAA extends its dead period through the end of May. That means no college coaches can have face-to-face contact with any recruit or watch players play at showcase tournaments, even if there were tournaments to available to play in.

So with traditional means being removed from the equation, how are recruits promoting themselves?

Knudsen is ahead of the curve in this regard, and is dedicating his time to creating highlight reels, training videos, staying active on social media and reaching out to college coaches through digital recruiting platforms like Next College Student Athlete. The recruiting game has changed and athletes like Knudsen are showing us all how to play.

“Right now, I’m just taking every day as it comes and working out at home,” Knudsen said. “I’m making new videos that I can use and emailing coaches, sending them some highlight videos, my GPA and academics and stuff like that. I’m just doing whatever I can to get my name out there.”

Brandon Knudsen, Elijah’s father, met his wife Camrin playing basketball in college and the Knudsen family truly lives in a basketball household. The owners of the Ziggi’s Coffee franchise built a half-court basketball gym in their home, and this is where Elijah trains and records his videos during quarantine.

Brandon Knudsen also coached boys basketball at Skyline High School from 2006 to 2010. Needless to say, things have changed quite a bit since he was a coach, a collegiate basketball player or even himself a high school prospect in the 1990s.

“Going all the way back to being a player, there really was no other way to get seen but to have someone watch you play,” Brandon Knudsen said. “There really wasn’t any film or any way to see other players or anything like that. We wouldn’t even see the stats from other places like you do now. And when I was a coach, it was incredibly hard to scout other teams because not every coach even called in the stats to the newspaper after their games. We used to have to drive all over to other high schools and exchange game film in person, things like that.”

Now, websites like MaxPreps.com make it easy for anyone to track high school players’ statistics and other digital platforms like Hudl.com make it easy for players to upload their film for anyone to see. Even parents, like Brandon Knudsen, are getting in on the action and helping their children produce highlight reels and other promotional material.

Many high school coaches also participate in virtual recruiting, or at the very least encourage their charges to do so.

“I feel like they already were and now they are more,” Centaurus boys basketball coach Travis Maron said. “Everybody just has to be kind of flexible and not get stuck in ‘Well, I wish I could do this.’ Many things are not possible so we all have to find new ways to stay active and continue to get better and find different ways to do what we do. So I would imagine that coaches and recruiters also have more time to look at things like highlight reels right now.”

It would seem that just about everyone has a little more time on their hands these days. The younger generation of student-athletes is making the most of that time and turning to virtual outlets in order to keep their athletic careers active and alive.