One of a coach’s toughest jobs during the recruiting process is to evaluate the risk vs. reward with players.
All coaches in America ask themselves: “Will I sign a more talented player with off-the-field issues or mistakes in their past… or will I sign a less talented player who has no off-the-field issues?”
Every situation is different and every coaching staff is different – ultimately it’s up to the head coach if they want to take a chance on a player with legal or attitude issues. I’ve worked with coaches who will take anyone, coaches who want nothing to do with a player with a past and then some in-between.
Head coaches evaluate these situations on a case-by-case basis. Was it an isolated issue? Did you have family issues going on? Have you gotten away from bad influences? Have you learned, changed, matured? Can you be trusted? Many coaches don’t want to bring in a bad apple to their lockerroom if they trust their team, they don’t want to disrupt the chemistry in the lockerroom.
In many, not all cases, a players past is a prediction of the issues they will bring with them to college. If you have a particular attitude or issues within your circle, you will likely bring those issues and negative influences with you to college. Some coaches think you’ll never change and other coaches will give you the opportunity to grow up.
If you are talented enough athletically, coaches will look into your issues/mistakes and evaluate. In some cases, they must get approval from the Athletic Director of University President if there is a legal record. Coaches won’t just want your side of the story, they will ask as many people with direct knowledge as possible to get a clearer view of the situation and you as a person.
To many coaches, they would rather take a player with no off-field issues because at the end of the day, winning is based on trust. If your coaches can’t trust you, you won’t win together. And if you are a great athletic talent who keeps finding yourself in trouble, coaches know that if they begin to let you get away with more than the other players on the team, and that is the beginning of the end for a head coach. When players aren’t accountable, it’s only a matter of time before the coaches are fired.
Honestly, I’ve seen players with negative pasts change. They normally have detours and a couple years of earning trust back, but it is possible. Your attitude is one of the few things you’ll ever be able to control.