Friday, October 7, 2022

Q&A with Larry Hart




Larry Hart is the author of the book The Recruit's Playbook: A 4-Year Guide to College Football Recruitment for High School Athletes. He is a Division 1 college football coach and defensive consultant at the University of Houston, and a former All American college athlete. He lives in Houston.


Q: What inspired you to write The Recruit's Playbook?


A: A good friend of mine actually inspired me to write The Recruit’s Playbook while having dinner at his home. I was coaching his son at the time. He made the comment that, “if someone were to write a book on how to handle the recruiting process, they would help so many.”


The Recruit's Playbook informs the young student athlete about the recruiting process and what will be expected of them both in the classroom and on the field.


It's random, but I’ve always loved journaling and dreamed of one day writing a book. That moment sparked something in me to finally pursue this goal.


As a college football coach, I come across so many students and parents that are uncertain about how to handle the football recruitment process, and The Recruit’s Playbook is a great tool to assist student athletes and the adults that support them in their football journey.


It’s especially helpful to low socioeconomic students with limited resources. I've always believed that knowledge/education is a great equalizer. 


Q: How do you think recruitment of high school football players has changed over the years? 


A: The fundamentals of recruiting hasn’t really changed since its structured start by way of the NCAA in the early 1900s. You have to build relationships with athletes, coaches, and families. This consists of being honest and upfront with those involved in the process.


However, social media has had a huge impact on recruiting. Players want to visit colleges and take pictures, dressed fully in a football uniform and post them. They want graphics sent to them so that they can retweet them on their social networks.


Recruitment is a lot flashier now than it’s ever been because kids love gear, jerseys, etc., to be able to, quite frankly, show off. Coaches now have to think of creative ways to be “cool” or do something fun to garner the attention of prospects. 


At the end of the day, the recruitment process is really all about building relationships which hasn’t changed since its inception. It’s recruiting as its core. 


Q: Of the various pieces of advice you give in the book, which would you say are the most important?


A: Become a problem solver and be an overcomer. In The Recruit’s Playbook, I discuss how everyone will not be able to play at the University of Alabama or at a big time Power 5 school (top tier program).


I talk about many different recruiting scenarios in the book, and about every kid’s journey being different. Some players will have 25-30 offers, and some won’t have any. Some kids will have to go the junior college route due to academics as I did. Others will go to lower level schools due to size.


I discuss in my book exactly what schools are looking for in potential recruits, such as height, weight, and certain attributes on their Hudl film. This will allow kids to get a good feel for where they stand in the recruiting tiers.


I also encourage student athletes to remember that the most important point of their recruitment is the opportunity to earn a free education. Getting a full ride scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas is more valuable than walking on and taking on debt at the University of Alabama. It’s chess, not checkers! 


Q: What would you say to people who are concerned about safety issues in football? 


A: As with any sport, everyone that decides to play football should understand that there’s risk involved in playing. It’s a very physical game, no doubt. If the decision to play is made, the mentality shouldn’t be concerned about getting injured, as that mindset will take away from the athlete's play and productivity on the field. 


That being said, and thankfully, there are increased measures being taken to make football safer. 


Helmets now are being designed to limit and disperse impact when taking hits to minimize concussions. 


Officials have made rule changes to eliminate tackling around the head and neck area. Defenders are taught to tackle in the “strike zone” which is shoulder to knee. 


Strength coaches across the country know that football is a physical sport and their main focus is injury prevention. They design workouts and conditioning drills to help players stay as healthy as possible. 


Lastly, and in my completely biased opinion— all risks considered, football is the ultimate team sport and has more upside than down. It teaches young men discipline, toughness, problem-solving skills, and the art of working with people from diverse backgrounds. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently working on my next book entitled 4 to 40. This book picks up where The Recruit's Playbook ends and talks about NIL [name, image, and likeness], and what college athletes need to do to dominate both on and off the field, and become well-rounded people once they’ve secured their scholarship.


Those four years of your life in college will typically set you up for the next 40, and we'll walk through that in my next book. 


In college, students practice "adulting" and should start becoming a "professional" in the way they handle adversity, find balance and manage time, communicate and network, and the overall ability to grow as a football player and person as a young adult after high school.


As this is the first time away from the "comfort of home" for many, it’s a very critical (and often very stressful) period of time.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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