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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
What college coaches look for out of players

By Lem Satterfield

Loyola, Mens Lacrosse, NCAA
Loyola men's lacrosse is defended by a Duke lacrosse players.
EDITORS NOTE: On Tuesday's, ESPNHS release a new lacrosse story in the Recruiting Road series  featuring college coaches' answers to some of the most asked recruiting questions.

Last week's installment addressed the importance of head coaches versus assistants or other school representatives scouting at summer camps, which can offer an out-of-season assessment of a players' talents independent of the team atmosphere.

The camp events are often the chance for coaches to get first-hand and longer-term views of a players' capabilities than might otherwise be possible.

But the coveted playing styles vary from program-to-program, so ESPN High School asked six college coaches their opinions on what they look for in players' abilities.

ESPN RISE: How important is a recruit's playing style at a camp?

John Paul, Michigan
"Summer lacrosse can be such a grind with kids playing so much now. Many times, the ones who stand out are able to keep playing at a high intensity level through the summer. We're always looking for players who have a great motor. We want to see them approach the game with passion and energy, no matter the situation."

Dave Pietramala, Johns Hopkins
"The first two things that stand out when watching a kid at camp are very obvious: the athleticism and the skill level. These are two very tangible ways to evaluate a player. In order to be successful at the highest level of Division I lacrosse, a student-athlete must be strong in at least one of these areas and hopefully both. Additionally, we are also looking some intangible qualities in a player. Character, how hard they play or how competitive they are become very important qualities for the young men we recruit to possess."

Bill Tierney, Denver
"It is easy to observe the goal scorer, the big save, or the dominant face-off specialist. I look for a young man's reaction to situations. Does he congratulate teammates when they do well, even if he doesn't really know them? Does he hustle after a mistake or put his head down and palms up? Obviously looking for the most aware players with a good 'lacrosse IQ' goes hand-in-hand with skill, speed, and size. We look for consistency, not kids that are trying to make a big play every time they touch the ball. We look for defensemen who play good defense, not necessarily have fancy stick skills. We like goalies who make the saves they should make, not ones that make a spectacular save, then let three easy ones go by. Can a midfielder make a good decision with the ball on whether to shoot or pass under pressure? Do they throw hard passes? These are just some of the many things we look for."

Charley Toomey, Loyola
"We are looking for athletes. We are looking for kids that stand out with size and strength. Next, we look for skills and quickness. These are probably the most noticeable attributes right away. We will look for a player's intelligence too. Does he know how to play off ball both defensively and offensively?"

Jon Torpey, High Point
"The first things that catches my eye at a recruiting event are the obvious physical attributes -- things like, size, speed, lateral quickness, balance, playmaking ability, toughness and a solid foundation of fundamentals. Being on the road from the day your season ends -- hopefully in late May -- until the first of August in most cases, most coaches develop a very keen eye regarding what they look for in players that will fit their systems. It is the work that you put in after the initial assessment that will ultimately be the determining factor in whether or not this is a student-athlete you want to bring into your locker room."

Dave Webster, Dickinson College
"We look for athletes who play our distinctive style. That is, we look for fit athletes who make good decisions while playing fast and up-tempo. Each team has a particular style, and coaches and players should assess if that is a good fit. When it is a good fit, the young man will be able to fully grow and realize his potential. When it is a bad fit, the player could be stifled and not allowed to flourish."

Next week: How do coaches view a recruit's ability to play other sports besides lacrosse?

Also upcoming: How do coaches find the needle in the haystack?