If you’re a football player or fan, you’ve heard of Tom Brady, the unheralded, sixth-round draft pick who became a legendary NFL quarterback with six Super Bowl rings (so far). And you may also know about Brady’s freshman season at the University of Michigan, where he was the seventh QB on the depth chart. And, you might have heard the story of how, even after he was named Michigan’s starting QB his junior year, Brady still had to overcome doubters. But, the story you may not know is that, even though he landed a scholarship at Michigan, Brady was barely recruited until his senior season in high school.

While ultimately successful, Brady’s recruiting process certainly wasn’t typical. As he was recruited in 1995, the college football recruiting at that time was, comparatively, still in the dark ages. However, regardless of where you are in the recruiting process or what sport you play, there are still a few things you can learn from Tom Brady.

The Value Of Starting Early

While a few West Coast schools had shown interest in him, it wasn’t until the summer before his senior season, when his father sent his tape to several other big-name schools that Brady’s stock began to rise. That’s right, I said “tape.” Remember, this was 1995 when only 14% of all Americans were online, there was no YouTube or social media, no text messaging, no smart phones, and no online top recruit lists. So, given all that, Brady’s late start may not have been so unusual back then. 

Though things are drastically different today, the lesson we can take from Brady here is, start your recruiting process early. While it’s certainly not unheard of to get recruited only during your senior year, given all the tools (email, YouTube, social media, text messaging, smartphones, etc) at your disposal now, starting the ball rolling as early as your freshman year is a snap. Put together a profile, use your real name consistently across all your social media accounts, and start looking into schools and reaching out to coaches.

Regardless of where you stand athletically, you have one thing Tom Brady didn’t have; the power of the Internet. Use it early and often!

Remember To Sell Yourself

Prior to his senior season, Brady had some interest from recruiters, but no scholarship offers. To get his son seen by more coaches, that’s when his Dad decided to mail his tape to a number of bigger programs. 

The old saying is “you catch more fish with a bigger net.” And thanks to the Internet, you have a bigger net than Tom Brady had. Be proactive. Reach out to the coaches and programs you’re interested in. This is especially important if you’re not “on the recruiting radar” for your sport. 

In Brady’s day, coaches had to look near and far to find recruits. Today, however, they can see thousands of recruits with just a few clicks. Make sure you market yourself so that coaches not only find you but that you stand out when they do.

Pivot To Video

The tape sent by his Dad to several big-name programs across the country is ultimately what got Tom Brady noticed. While making your own highlight video is a thousand times easier today, getting it in front of coaches is still key. So, no matter where you are in the recruiting process, if you haven’t done so already, compile a highlight reel and post it to an easily accessible site, such as YouTube. 

Coaches might see hundreds of videos a week, so yours doesn’t have to be too long. Just make sure it clearly shows off your abilities and highlights. Keep it current and update as you go so that a coach can always get a clear picture of your capabilities. That’s the best way to stand out while at the same time demonstrating what you might have to offer.

While it certainly had a happy ending, there’s no telling how things might have turned out for Tom Brady had his tape not been sent out or seen by Michigan’s coaching staff. And, while you may not have Brady’s game, or you just play a different game, it’s easier than ever to put yourself ahead in the recruiting game. Just start early, get your name out there and sell yourself, and make sure you have a highlight video that shows what you have to offer. And remember, it only takes one coach to like your game for your story to have a happy ending, too!

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