High school football recruits must first make the grade

- National signing day is the one of the biggest highlights for a high school football player. It's huge payoff for four years of hard work, but not everyone that plays the game is going to be rewarded for playing the game.

"There's actually one football player in every 32 high schools in America that gets a scholarship in year," said Plant High School head football coach Robert Weiner.

It's all about getting noticed.  A Division I scholarship is estimated to be worth a half-million dollars -- which is why they're not easy to get. For most players, the requirements start in the classroom, but the key player is the high school head coach.

"Kids will not be recruited without the head coach's original recommendation," explained Weiner. "If a recruiting service is promoting somebody and that kid wasn't even on the head coach's recruiting spreadsheet that he gives to the guy, there is not going to be a school that will recruit him."

USF head coach Charlie Strong relies heavily on relationships he has with high school coaches.

"When you have that relationship with those coaches and when you walk into those schools, you know when you sit down with them. When you talk about the athlete, then they are going to give you the truth about them."

This is what a student-athlete's grade means for their chances. This higher the GPA the more doors that will be open. A 4.0 will makes a student eligible for 91 percent of colleges in the country. Get a 2.0 and your choices are drastically reduced to just 8 percent.

"I have that in my phone and we show that to our players," said Hillsborough head football coach Earl Garcia. "That's the academic emphasis and rightly so."

"The first question for the smaller schools is the academics," said Weiner. "The first question for the bigger schools is the football, but it's quickly followed by the academics."

Watching others put pen to paper on signing day can be tough to accept for a player and parents. Coach Garcia shares the question he gets often from concerned parents.

"'Well, Signing Day is Wednesday, is he going to sign?' Are you kidding," quipped Garcia. "He didn't start for Hillsborough; how's he going to play for Florida or South Florida?"

"They don't get it a lot of times," he added. "There has to be a villain and I'm the guy."

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