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The lacrosse recruiting landscape looks a lot different than it did when I was in school. I’m sure most of you are aware of the recent rule changes that prevent coaches from recruiting players until September 1st of their junior year of high school. It used to be that kids weren’t committing until senior year, after visiting up to 5 schools to get a sense of where they wanted to spend four years.
I won’t pretend to think that these rules are perfect. Though kids can’t commit technically until senior year, there are still backdoors and loopholes that I think will be almost impossible to mitigate, like college coaches talking to their club coach friends. Lars Tiffany, the Virginia coach, had a good point: if a kid commits the day after September 1st, you know he or she has been talking to that coach. If they take some time, you can safely assume they started being approached after September 1st.. The new rules will help regulate this early recruiting somewhat, but there will always be the backdoor.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the current environment is awesome insofar as it means that there are no more excuses- no matter where you’re from, you’re visible to coaches. Social media, YouTube, and platforms alike mean that anybody can be seen anywhere. Lacrosse is an expensive sport and your ability to be recruited being contingent on how much money you can shell out to attend tournaments and camps places severe restrictions on many families. Now, you don’t have to break the bank or travel anywhere to get noticed. This is a good thing for the growth of the sport and the players. Colleges can advertise on a variety of platforms and reach out to players instead of players coming to them. This healthy exchange between coaches and players promotes communication and will hopefully lead to players being able to choose the school that will be best for their educational and athletic development.
I think some kids will be disappointed that they can’t officially commit or be approached before their junior year. It’s definitely an ego boost for a kid to be able to say as a freshman that he’s already committed to Syracuse. For kids who have their heads on their shoulders, I think they’ll view the rule change as a good thing. If I was in high school now and grew and developed at the same rate, I’d be excited about the rule. I was too small and never would have been recruited freshman year.
It will be interesting to see how the balance between top-tier programs and mid to lower-tier is altered. In the past, lots of the best programs that were recruiting early were bad at picking the best players. Those who may have been good their freshman or sophomore years often plateaued. What you found was a lot of coaches running mid to lower-tier programs who loved the old rules (or lack thereof). They got the leftover kids, who were often a lot better. Lars Tiffany said that many of the lower tier D1 coaches voted against the new recruiting rules because they were getting such good players who were just developing later when programs like Johns Hopkins were already filled up. It helped the game in a kind of weird way, where non-traditional programs could see success.
One last thing to note about all this recruiting hoopla- how to get recruited and what camps/tournaments to go to causes a lot of confusion. A lot of people get hung up on club teams. A lot are great, but at the end of the day you can play for the greatest club team or go to the best tournament and if you’re not any good it won’t matter. Kids should be investing time and energy into training and getting good instead of focusing on going to all these tournaments. Go to some, what you can afford, but don’t break the bank. Again, YouTube, Hudl, and other outlets are great resources to display your capabilities. People should take a step back and think deeply about what gets someone recruited- and that’s being good. So go out and train and get great, and coaches will find you.