How to snag that scholarship: 5 expert tips to help student athletes

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- For many high school football players, suiting up at the collegiate level is dream they would love to achieve.  But according to recruiters, earning an athletic scholarship is not just about being a superstar on the gridiron.

Patrick Suddes, assistant athletics director for football recruiting at Arizona State University, talked about what athletes need to consider if they want to make it to the college ranks.

While he specializes in football recruitment for ASU, every young athlete can learn from his experience, no matter what sport(s) they play or where they hope to go to college.

1.  Get exposure
Players should attend camps where recruiters can see their skills firsthand.  Also, high school athletes with aspirations of playing in college should have a highlight reel. That video should be posted on the Internet on websites like hudl.com and youtube.com.   

2.  Grades
The "student" in student-athlete comes first. If a player does not make the grade, he/she does not hit the field.

"We want kids who excel in the classroom as well as on the field, so we're looking at grades as hard as anything else we look at," Suddes said.

3.  Be versatile
A player should be familiar with, know and be able to step into multiple positions. He or she needs to know the rules and understand the intricacies of the game.

4.  Extracurricular activities
Recruiters often like to see student athletes involved in other activities besides sports, both at school  and around the community. A college athlete is propelled into the public eye, and schools want to know a player will project a good image.

5.  Social media
Much like applying for a job, personal accounts on websites like Twitter or Facebook could affect a player’s chances of attaining a scholarship. Social media can work in both directions. Athletes can build their own reputations and project positive images. Alternatively, posts that show irresponsible behavior or character can hurt an athlete.

"It's an interview every time you get on social media," Suddes explained. "I think it's become huge for these kids to understand how to be on social media because everybody is reading what you put on there. And you can't take it back. For us, that tells a lot about the kid's character and needs to be monitored by parents and coaches, as well."

As for parents of really young athletes, Suddes said the most important thing is not a winning record, but rather that the kids learn the fundamentals of their sports and learn to be part of a team.

Suddes joined head coach Todd Graham's staff in February. Before that is was the director of player personnel at the University of Texas. Former UT head coach Mack Brown described Suddes as "a real star in the recruiting business."