LaDarius Owens: Recruits should follow their hearts

Feb. 4, 2014


Auburn defensive end LaDarius Owens has some advice for prospects who will sign Wednesday (Todd Van Emst photo)

LaDarius Owens is a senior Auburn defensive end and a communications major. He was a 4-star recruit out of Jess Lanier High School in Bessemer. He shares some of his thoughts about the recruiting process.

By LaDarius Owens

National signing day is here again, the biggest “holiday” of the winter for high school football players and college football coaches.

Signing day has evolved tremendously from the days of a kid just going to his or her favorite college to play ball. These days, high school football players sign letters of intent to go play for schools they may or may not have grown up watching, or even know much about.

Kids are now getting more exposure than ever with so many different Internet and social media outlets today that track and focus on recruiting. High school football players are not just recruits anymore; they are high school football stars because of the amount of attention they now receive. And with this type of fame comes positives and negatives. Yes, these kids deserve whatever accolades come from their success on the football field, but some of the attention can turn into pressure and be overwhelming for some of these 17- and 18-year-old young men.

During the college recruiting process, these young men get the opportunity to travel and see different universities and campuses while also experiencing some great college football games. These kids show up to a campus and fans already know who they are because the recruiting scene is so public nowadays. I remember taking visits and people recognizing me and telling me how much they wanted me to come to their team and how great of a player I was. That type of attention can make anyone feel good about themselves and is well deserved for excelling in a sport. However, some kids tend to get caught up in all that hype and lose focus, ultimately making the wrong decision on signing day.

Another thing I remember about the recruiting process -- the constant phone calls from coaches and reporters as signing day approached. This was a really stressful and frustrating aspect of recruiting to me, because while you are trying to make a decision that will ultimately shape the rest of your life, there are people calling to cloud or make you question that decision. It is hard enough for a 17- or 18-year-old young man to make this type of decision without others trying to tug and pull him in different directions.

I believe the most challenging part of making the decision on which school to attend and where to play football has to be deciphering between which coaches have been honest with you and which have not. You have to realize that these coaches are professionals at what they do, and they understand the psychology behind persuading recruits. Therefore, as a recruit, you have to rely on your instincts and talk your family to figure out what is real and what is not.

Finally, as signing day comes, the pressure you have felt building from the beginning of the recruiting process will subside. As a recruit, the night before signing day, you already have that relieved feeling because you should know where you are going. When that time comes on signing day that you sit in front of your family, friends and classmates, the right decision will make you feel like a huge boulder is lifted off your shoulders. I remember putting on my Auburn snapback cap and the gym erupting. At that moment it finally hit me that it was all over and that I had made the right decision for me and not for anyone else. That’s a great feeling.

The recruiting process is fun and exciting, but it can also be very distracting and stressful. So my advice to the guys signing on Wednesday is to make whatever choice will make you happy, and don’t make that decision for anyone else.