Hard work yields high rewards


A hello is a nationally recognized greeting, but anything more than that, between a college coach and a high school player, is defined by the the NCAA as a “contact,” the first step of the chaotic process called recruitment. Senior football players Joe Dineen and Fred Wyatt got quite a few steps past a hello, and are now approaching the pen-to-paper-step as they are preparing to sign to Division 1 schools.

Dineen accepted a full ride scholarship to play the safety position at Kansas University, but will be watched as a potential quarterback as well. Wyatt has also accepted a full ride scholarship, but to play defensive tackle at Northwestern University. The guys have some room to relax now that their next four years are planned out, but they didn’t get to this point overnight.

“The recruitment process really takes place your junior year,” Dineen said. “Schools pretty much have their recruiting classes wrapped up by the time we are seniors.”

The first initiative is to get noticed. Wyatt sent a highlight tape to a long list of schools at the end of his sophomore year, while Dineen said that being a “fast, six foot two inch white boy” worked in his favor.

Both Dineen and Wyatt agreed that their dreams were becoming more realistic when they started to receive mail from various schools.

“It’s very hectic…as soon as you start getting recruited, you start getting letters,” Wyatt said. “I pretty much got mail almost every day.”

These letters are different from the mass produced flyers from colleges endorsing special online quizzes and college guides. The letters Dineen and Wyatt received included invitations visit the schools, talk to the coaches, and at some point, receive scholarships.

Once scholarships are offered, persuasion techniques are dropkicked into motion. The mutual goal is get the desired player to sign, but different schools use different approaches.

“Schools try to play to their strengths so you just have to find what you want in a school,” Wyatt said.

A school will display strengths typically related to one of two things: the facilities or the atmosphere. According to Wyatt, schools with more money in their program flaunt their newer, high quality facilities. Other schools focus more on showing the quality of their atmosphere, by describing how they have a “family” rather than a “team.”

“Really, all the coaches I met were really cool,” Dineen said. “Some were more laid back and funny, while some were more intense, but for the most part all of them were really great to me.”

Aside from bragging rights, Division 1 recruitment comes with some other perks. Dineen and Wyatt were offered free tickets to games, including a few extra for friends or family, sideline passes, access to closed practices and tours of all the campuses and facilities.

The college visits then get an upgrade during senior year. Now, colleges will pay for players like Dineen and Wyatt to visit.

“They pay for the meals, they pay for a place to stay, you get to hangout with the players for the night…[you] get to enjoy college life for a couple days,” Wyatt said.

But beyond the college talk, Dineen and Wyatt can’t forget about their last season of high school football. Although Wyatt is out due to a torn ACL, he’ll cheer on the sidelines in the hopes that he and Dineen can end their high school football career on a good note.

“I guess there’s a little pressure off of me, … but I still feel plenty of pressure because I want to have a really good senior season, and I want to win state,” Dineen said.