COVINGTON, Ga. — Throughout the past few years, there has seemingly been a substantial increase in the number of student-athletes being recruited by colleges. As a matter of fact, 36 area athletes across numerous sports signed scholarships to begin their college careers.
So far in 2022, already over 20 area student-athletes have penned their national letters of intent to play at the next level.
At the forefront of that increase for Newton High School has been football recruiting coordinator Josh Skelton.
Skelton is a graduate from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain and played college football at Jacksonville State University.
Now, in his position at Newton High School, Skelton uses his own experience and technique to assist student-athletes, particularly football players, with their recruitment procedure. And, according to Skelton, the wheels start turning right away.
“When a kid gets to ninth grade, I try to get that process going as soon as I can,” Skelton said.
Throughout that process are three main areas Skelton said he likes to focus on.
First and foremost, Skelton said he places a huge emphasis on a student-athlete’s academics. That helps with the grade point average (GPA) requirements for colleges.
Skelton also stresses for each of his players to not earn any C’s in their classes — only B’s or higher.
Next in the process is the weight room and skill work.
Skelton highlighted how physically difficult it is for high school athletes to adjust to college athletics. However, Skelton said that he tries to get players as prepared as possible for the next level.
And, most of the time, work in the weight room helps student-athletes pass what Skelton calls the “eyeball” test.
“When I take them on campus, they look a lot older, physically, than what their age may say,” Skelton said.
The final step is getting the player on the field to start getting tape of their play. Hudl is a platform Skelton uses to share clips of highlight plays for each player.
When Skelton uploads the film to players’ accounts, he then shares it across social media.
Once all those steps are complete, Skelton said he starts working with the student on which opportunities are more plausible compared to others.
“We start to sell that kid on what his future could look like at a school,” Skelton said.
Even though Skelton said Twitter — and all forms of social media — were a crucial tool he used to help student-athletes get exposure, he stressed how nothing replaces face-to-face interactions with coaches.
And, by taking more student-athletes on more visits in recent years, those interactions have happened more frequently.
“Over the years, taking these kids to a lot of schools, I began to develop a lot of relationships,” Skelton said. “I may develop a relationship with a coach and get to know him and follow him where he goes. So, if that coach changes jobs, my relationship is still tight with him where he’ll recruit [regardless of the] school he goes to.”
Skelton admitted there are some challenges that present themselves with each student-athlete’s recruitment. However, working with a student-athlete one-on-one to help get them to realize their dream is what makes his job easy.
Skelton said that getting a student in position to be successful is what it’s all about for him.
“I don’t try to sell a kid anything. I inherit what their dreams and goals are and try to help them as best I can,” Skelton said. “I want to make sure they have some sort of path and expectations for themselves to know exactly what they got to do. It feels great to be able to help these guys, and it’s one of my main motivations as a coach. I just try to be a Swiss Army Knife for whatever they need.”