Left to Right: Bobby Picardo, Pat Pinkman, Stan Exeter; Photo by Josh Belanger
December 20 - The NVTBL hosted its annual recruiting seminar last night, bringing together current college players and coaches to provide knowledge and insight on the recruiting process for the dozens of potential recruits in attendance at Westfield High School.
Jack Owens, the team-leader in hits for Virginia Tech this past season, and Kyle McKenzie of Case Western Reserve University, a Division III program in Cleveland, Ohio, began the seminar by answering questions on when the recruiting process began for them and reflecting on their decisions with the benefit of hindsight.
“I started to get involved in the recruiting process my junior year and that was a mistake,” McKenzie said. “If you are really serious about playing college baseball you have to start earlier in the summer before your junior year and you have to put yourself out there and attend individual showcases where you get to meet the coaches one-on-one.”
“I started playing travel ball early in the eighth grade but if you are not on a travel team or go to showcases by your sophomore year, it’s probably an issue,” Owens said.
“You want to pick a school where even if you don’t play baseball, you will still love to be there,” McKenzie said. “Baseball is a hard game and at anytime it can be taken away from you so I would target the schools where you will be happy at regardless of what happens and one that will challenge you to be a successful person.”
“I wish I committed to a school that, regardless of baseball, I would have loved and stayed at,” Owens added. “I didn’t do that and I wish I did looking back, but coaches come and go but the school will always be there, so it's more important to commit to the school.”
Owens originally committed to East Carolina University, however transferred to Virginia Tech after his freshman year.
Owens and McKenzie also shared the importance of time management and being on-time as well as preparing yourself mentally and physically for the rigors of being a student athlete at the college level.
Mike Gallagher, co-founder of the Metro Baseball Academy, continued the conversation with an introduction into the Premier Showcase League and how the league provides a more cost-efficient and competitive alternative to other travel and showcase programs. Gallagher also referenced the league's ability to put players in the right situations to get recruited by getting them in front of coaches and exposed to campuses.
“We work together to provide a community of coaches and community of connections to put guys in the right fit," Gallagher said. "We are all available to the players on each team and how we help each other really is what sets us apart.”
The seminar concluded with Joe Graziano from Headfirst Companies moderating a discussion with college coaches Bobby Picardo (Catholic University), Pat Pinkman (Seton Hall University) and Stan Exeter (Ursinus College).
Topics included how the recruiting process differs between Division I and Division III programs and the importance of academics at their schools as well as what they like to see from potential recruits.
Exeter: “The process has sped up since I started coaching in 1997, but we will start to ramp it up around your junior year and when you head into your senior year, that is when we will focus on you and get you to campus. It’s fantastic to have as much academic information on you as possible because that helps us with admissions and getting academic scholarships.”
Pinkman: “We are in a unique situation at Seton Hall where we are not pressured to recruit against schools like Pittsburgh and UVA, but we are also in an academic scenario where we don’t have to wait like an Ivy League school does. We can wait to get a kid a little bit later that has sprung late and has strong academics. Another reason why we might wait is because we may get an ACC or SEC caliber player in a 2018 recruiting class because the decision is coming earlier and more kids are decommiting because they didn’t find the right fit. Up until the fall of your senior year when you sign your letter of intent, we can withdraw our offer or you can decommit us so that is when the rubber hits road.”
Picardo: “What really speaks to us are guys that do research on our school and want to get in front of us. We want to see potential recruits show interest in our school. Finding and seeing good players is easy, it’s finding good players that want the challenge of going to a high academic institution in Washington, D.C.”
Here are some video highlights of their discussion:
Picardo talking about what he looks for in a college recruit.
Exeter on the role of academics in the recruiting process.
The recruiting difference between DI and DIII programs.
Creating communication with coaches and schools.