With its characteristically mild-year-round weather, it’s no wonder that Florida has earned a reputation for churning out some of the most talented athletes in football.
Each year, college coaches scour the rosters of Sunshine State high schools in search of their future MVPs, and are often successful in finding them here. Especially for players in Ponte Vedra – which is home to not just one, but two high schools known for producing exceptional football talent – the pressures involved in the recruiting process can be tough. According to Tim Krause, head coach of the Nease High School football team, however, a little preparation can help to alleviate some of that stress.
“When someone expresses interest in playing football at the college level, we have an individual meeting with them,” Krause said. “Usually we start with trying to narrow down what their dream school is and what they’re looking for in a place of further education. Then we give them a list of places that might fit their talent level – or ability level – and places that fit their academics, and then try to guide them towards what they’re looking for.”
Krause, who is now in his fourth season as head coach at Nease, said that students are often unaware as to what is required of them off the field to obtain offers from the schools they like.
“I don’t think kids really understand the impact, sometimes, of what they say or how they say it,” he explained. “In the recruitment process, it’s really like a job interview in that you have to show that you’re excited, that you have a passion for football, that you have a passion for academics and that you’re willing to work hard. We just try to coach them through that process, and our athletic director and our guidance department do a great job of helping along the way with talks about academics as well, just so they know the NCAA guidelines and eligibility requirements.”
According to Krause, college football coaches will usually start visiting schools in either December or January to compile their lists of prospective players for the upcoming year. In the spring, the NCAA allows the coaches to attend practices, and that is when most of the evaluation takes place.
“They usually follow up with the [high school] coaches and say, ‘Here’s the kids that we’re going to offer a scholarship to,’” Krause said. “Then also, there’s a large number of kids that they really want to see in camp. I think that’s the biggest change in the last 20 years in college—they really want to see kids come to camp, be on their campus, work out and run around so they can evaluate them a bit closer.”
Krause advised that maintaining the balance between athletics, academics and their personal lives can be difficult for some kids.
“Especially for the kids that are being recruited really heavily to major schools, it is a challenge,” he said. “At some point you have to be honest with schools and say, ‘You know what, there’s a good chance I’m not going to go to your school. Thank you for your interest.’
“I think that’s the toughest part for kids—saying no…so just talking to them about being honest and understanding what they want and what they’re looking for, I think, really helps.”
For players who are being courted by several schools, the choice of which one to attend can be stressful and difficult. Krause offered some advice for those struggling to determine the best fit.
“I think the big thing when you’re making a college decision is that you’re picking a place that you want to go to, regardless of if football were there,” he said. “You want to try to find a college where you want to spend four years, and once you’re there, it’s a place that you can embrace and enjoy and really buy into.
“I think, sometimes, kids get sucked into the football atmosphere of it, and the facilities and the things that maybe the coaches want you to see, when really, you should look at the school community [and ask]: ‘Who am I going to be going to school with every day? Is this a place my parents can come watch me play? Is this a place I can travel home from? Is this a place that I want to be for four years?’ That’s the biggest thing I tell kids to look for.”