Commentary

How college coaches find the 'needle in the haystack' during recruiting  process

Updated: October 10, 2011, 10:31 PM ET
By Lem Satterfield

Jon Torpey, High PointHigh Point Sports Information/ESPNHSJon Torpey instructs players as part of one of High Point's first practices.
EDITORS NOTE: ESPNHS' Recruiting Road series features college coaches' answers to some of the most asked recruiting questions.

A lacrosse recruit's attributes aren't always readily apparent. He may not be the most flashy or athletic.

To that end, ESPNHS asked six college coaches their opinions on how they discover that needle in a haystack, or that player who, once a part of their program, displays the intangibles that allow him to blossom into more than what he initially appeared to be.

ESPNHS: How do coaches find the needle in the haystack?

John Paul, Michigan
"The key is to find the players who are the best fit for our team and our school. We're always looking and evaluating. Ultimately, it's up to our coaches to make the right decisions from the group that we've identified as the best candidates for us."

Bill Tierney, Denver
"The needle in the haystack can be found, especially if you look for the character traits alluded to in earlier questions. A young man with passion, desire to improve, and an endless need to work on his game will drastically improve. Many young men have burnt out by the time they are 18, so finding a guy who wants to be better will put him in position to pass the 'youth lacrosse star' in high school or college more times than you might think. Coaching is the most important part of this equation, and if a young man is willing to listen to his coaches, he can be that "where did he come from" story."

Charley Toomey, Loyola
"How hard is it to find that needle in the haystack? It's definitely becoming more difficult, however it can be done. Players develop physically at different times in their lives. If a young man hits a growth spurt and has the drive to be a great player, he can develop quickly in his junior or senior year or even early in his collegiate career. It is for this reason that we try not to finish our recruiting classes early. We are always looking for that late bloomer."

Jon Torpey, High Point
"Finding a needle in the haystack to me is really a three-part formula. One-part work, one-part luck and one-part development. I do believe that the first, second and third parts all go hand-in-hand. If you are willing to work and are dedicated to developing the athletes you bring in, and you find those special student-athletes who truly want to step outside their comfort zone, passionately work, want to be extraordinary and are coachable, then they will usually hit part one and three out of the park. If you work smart and hard enough, part two becomes a much more common occurrence."

Dave Webster, Dickinson College
"I think we all have some surprises every year. It has become increasingly hard to have a difference-maker somehow fall through the cracks. The opportunity for exposure at fall events, spring games, and summer tournaments has allowed most skilled players to be seen. The Internet and various websites have done a great deal to promote these players as well. However, we certainly still look for that special player who might have somehow been missed by others."