Video: 2017 7-on-7 Highlights
See Independence (Texas) junior Kevin Dick work during spring practice.
In some parts of the country, the club football 7-on-7 culture has taken over the offseason. Athletes are playing on multiple teams, even on the same weekend.
A high profile Southern California head coach recently held a team meeting because of issues he felt had overtaken the focus of the program, issues stemming from kids playing with a variety of different club teams.
Different NCAA head coaches have had things to say about recruiting 7-on-7 players from these clubs. Stanford's David Shaw of Stanford said 7-on-7 "means absolutely nothing to me as an evaluator. I will also never ever, ever have a recruiting conversation with a 7-on-7 coach. I talk to high school coaches, counselors and parents."
I wanted to ask a recruiting coordinator about this issue of recruiting from the 7-on-7 world.
So I reached out to Cherokee Valeria, the recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Eastern Washington University. He had some interesting things to say about the club football scene, including what worries him about some of those issues.
Valeria is responsible for finding student-athletes in two of the nation's hotbeds: Southern California and Houston. The 2017 recruiting class for EWU was ranked third in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision by 247 Sports. Coach Valeria started his coaching career at the high school level in Washington.
What are your thoughts about the current recruiting environment with the 7-on-7 clubs?
I feel it's another evaluation tool for us. Ultimately, we don't look at 7-on-7 film and stats; those mean nothing to college coaches. We need to see how athletes execute in a true 11-on-11 game environment.
However, a lot of hidden character traits can be judged through these club leagues. For instance, how does an athlete work within a new team/group. Does he turn into a "me" guy? Is he a competitor even though he may not be given the starting nod? Does he blame others if they don't win? This is a close resemblance to how they may interact when they join a college team.
One of the worst things I see after athletes compete together on a 7-on-7 team, is all of a sudden some of these athletes are trying to transfer to another high school. Most of the time it is a high school of someone who was on that 7-on-7 team with them.
This is one of the biggest red flags for me to see. It tells me as a recruiting coach that I have to dig deeper on a player's character.
I feel I need to answer questions such as: Why is he moving? Does he have a fear of losing? Is he finding the easy way out? Is he easily influenced by others? How strong is his upbringing? How loyal will he be when he gets on our campus? How hard will he work when he gets here and so forth?
It is usually never a good sign if an athlete has transferred to multiple schools in his high school career, especially if it occurs because of his involvement on a 7-on-7 team.Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.