The Deal with Transferring and Junior College

My sophomore year of college, I was 4th on the depth chart at the University of Oregon, and I knew I had to leave.

I believed I had more in the tank, that I was capable of being the starting catcher for a division one program. I was nervous about making the change, but I was willing to bet on myself for the chance of finding a school where I could thrive.

In the winter of 2014, I left the University of Oregon and enrolled myself at Orange Coast College, a junior college in southern California.

I had no idea what this meant. I didn’t know the risks, I didn’t know the implications…heck, I didn’t even know our school’s mascot.

All I knew was that I wanted to get back to the division one level.

I understood that it was going to be difficult, and I knew I had to be smart about how I went about the recruiting process, but I was confident we (my dad and I) could find a strategy that would work.

And we did.

We developed a calculated system that had my phone ringing off the hook. I couldn’t believe the interest I was getting. Didn’t these schools know that I hit .208 my freshman year at Oregon and that I was 4th on the depth chart going into my sophomore season?

It didn’t matter. Good coaches know that it only takes the right program and the right coaching to mold a player into a middle of the order guy.

I sifted through the offers, getting honest and real about what I wanted out of my college experience and what kind of program I wanted to play for.

Eventually, I narrowed it down and took visits to 3 schools:

  • The University of Connecticut — a strong academic school with a coach whom I trusted
  • Indiana University — A good blend of baseball and academics (with a coach whom I really liked)
  • Mississippi State University — A baseball powerhouse with an unmatched tradition (and another fantastic coach)

In the summer of 2015, I made my decision: I accepted a scholarship offer to Mississippi State University.

With the NCAA’s decision to give all players a year of eligibility back due to the cancelling of the 2020 season, more players than ever are going to end up transferring.

As a player who transferred, I think it’s my duty to inform you all of the path you are considering.

There are two possible routes you may take…

The first depends on the NCAA’s decision to approve a penalty-free transfer rule that would allow players to transfer from one division one school to another without having to sit out a year. A vote for this rule is expected sometime this summer.

The second route is that you choose to enroll in a junior college before jumping to another division one school.

I’ll address each of these.

For the first route, there isn’t a whole lot to say. If the decision gets approved and players can transfer without penalty, you won’t have to go the junior college route.

But, you’ll still be in a recruiting process. You’ll have to get in contact with prospective schools and prove that you can be valuable to them. You’ll need to market yourself effectively.

Now, let’s talk about the second route.

For those who are thinking of enrolling in a junior college, there’s a lot to know.

Here are 4 things I wish I had known before I made this decision:

  • Junior college is better than the reputation it has.

I remember thinking that going to junior college was a downgrade, that I wasn’t meant to go to a junior college. My elitist attitude almost kept me from one of my favorite seasons I’ve ever played.

I met kids who had a chip on their shoulder. I met guys who were serious about playing division one baseball, and put the time and effort in to accomplish their goals. I met grinders, guys who didn’t care about the free stuff…guys who just wanted to ball out.

I remember going to LA Fitness with two of my teammates at 11pm many nights because we were hungry to get better and we wanted to get back to division one baseball so badly. These are the types of guys you find at junior colleges.

I had a blast playing for some of my favorite coaches of all time. I learned a lot, and I grew to be a better player.

The talent level can be pretty good, depending on where you play. OCC was a consistent title contender. We played in a strong conference full of division one bounce backs (player who go from a division one school to a junior college). To give you some idea, I would say that the first 5 guys in our lineup were division one guys, and the top 4 pitchers on our team were division one guys. Obviously, these numbers vary based on the team…some have more, some have less.

And I must say that junior college reignited my career. My time at OCC led me to MSU, which led me to professional baseball. I owe much of my success in recent years to my junior college decision.

  • Going the junior college route is a big risk/reward decision.

I don’t want to downplay this…deciding to attend a JC with the hopes of getting a chance to play at another division one school is a huge risk.

If you don’t play well in a short period of time, your options will vanish. If you get hurt, your options will vanish. Your career can end much sooner than you anticipated. I don’t mean to scare you, but I do want to make sure you know the implications of the decision you are making.

On the flip side, the rewards can be extravagant. I went from being 4th on the depth chart at a Pac-12 school to being the starting catcher on an SEC championship team, all in a matter of a year and a half.

If you are dissatisfied with your current situation, then junior college may be the right move for you. But acknowledge the possible consequences of your decision…they can be very serious.

  • Junior college is a grind

There’s not a lot of money in the junior college baseball world. You’re not going to be taking nice buses, and you’re not going to be getting a bunch of gear. You may not even have a locker room…OCC didn’t. We changed in the dugouts or in our cars.

You’re not going to be playing in front of a ton of people, and the fields aren’t going to be that nice. Just accept it…JUCO is a grind.

Oh, by the way…

I loved it. I loved the grind. I loved the mentality. I loved the lack of entitlement. I loved everything about it. You just need to know that’s what you’re walking into.

  • D1 schools need junior college players

Division one programs use junior college players as “quick fixes.” When a team needs a role filled right away, and doesn’t want to wait for an incoming freshman to develop and fill the role, they recruit a junior college player to come in and dominate the role for a year or two.

This was my role at Mississippi State. They had a talented freshman catcher, but he wasn’t ready to be the everyday starter. They recruited me to fill the spot until he was ready.

Teams are looking for junior college players all the time…so yes, there’s a market for them.

————

Having said all of this, the decision really does depend on the player. Junior college is a great decision for some, and a terrible decision for others.

In the end, your ability to find your way to another division one school is based on two things: development and marketing.

You have to be good enough to provide value to division one schools, and you have to know how to help division one schools find your value.

If you want to know more about the system I used to gain the attention of dozens of schools after I hit .208 at Oregon and was 4th on the depth chart my sophomore year, join my email list. It’s free.

Navigating the Recruiting Process During COVID-19

Many people are wondering how to continue their recruiting process during the coronavirus quarantine. With seasons cancelled and the rest of the year uncertain, it’s easy to get anxious about the already difficult process.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the NCAA’s plans and what the landscape is going to look like for the next year, or more.

I’m going to share what I would do if I were in the recruiting process right now. Truthfully, there’s only so much you can do at this time to further your process. But there are things you can do right now that will benefit you in the long run and help you achieve success later on. Don’t get bored with slow progress. It’s essential to ultimate triumph. Learn from the guy who went through the process twice…play the long game.

Before we start…let’s get one thing straight: no, you’re not falling behind in the recruiting process during coronavirus. Everyone is quarantined; everyone’s season is cancelled. No one is secretly playing tournaments or having covert conversations with college coaches down by the docks like something out of Peaky Blinders. This really is a quiet period. Having said that, I do think this time can be used productively and that you can take a few small steps to gain some ground in the process.

Here’s how I would use my time if I were in the recruiting process during coronavirus:

  • I would double the number of schools on my list to email.

If you’ve read any of my stuff, whether on the site or from my emails, you know that I don’t advocate for sending out a bunch of random emails. This is hardly ever a good strategy. I have always strongly recommended finding schools that excite you, that fit your needs, and that have a need for your position. However, this takes a lot of time and research…and if you’re in high school, you already have a full day of school, baseball, family obligations, and a social life.

This means that you don’t have the time to research a ton of schools, find ones that fit your needs, target those schools for their needs, write your emails, put together your video, and send them off. You can do some, but not nearly as many as you can do now. If I were you, I would continue to find schools that meet my needs and target schools that need me, but I would do this in greater quantity.

Your list is a numbers game. Yes, a shorter list of filtered, targeted schools is more valuable than a longer list of unfiltered, random schools. But, what if you had a longer list of filtered, targeted schools? Your chances of getting multiple responses shoot through the roof if you increase the number of schools you reach out to. It’s simple mathematics…probability for the win!

Use this down time to add schools to your list. Don’t sacrifice quality, but increase the quantity.

  • I would create a stockpile of video (if possible).

Now, this one will not be possible for everyone. But, if you do have access to a cage or somewhere you can hit and get some defensive work in, then use this time to build an enormous stash of video. You can never have too much video.

I recommend having video stored away just in case a coach asks for something specific. Oh, you want a video of me blocking a baseball? Here it is! Oh, you want a video of me fielding ground balls at shortstop? Here it is!

Create your stash now. Of course, you can’t get game video right now…but no one can! Use this time to bank video. You’ll almost certainly use it at some point.

  • PREVIOUSLY, I WROTE THIS: I would prepare all of my emails and save them as drafts.

UPDATE: With the NCAA’s decision to give all division one and two players a year of eligibility back, some of the fog has lifted (though, it’s still quite difficult for coaches to assess their needs and rosters). While coaches are still having a hard time figuring out which players are returning and not, they have a better idea now that the NCAA has made this decision.

Because coaches have a better idea of what their rosters *may* look like, I think it’s safe to send emails out to coaches during this COVID-19 quarantine.

Having said that…for those of you interested in emailing top baseball programs, you may want to wait on those schools. Programs with a hefty number of potential draft picks are going to have to wait and see what MLB decides to do with the draft. You can still send emails to these schools, but your response rate may be even lower than normal (even with the response rate from these schools already starting at a low percentage).

If you have any questions about this update, please email me.

ballerbuilder@gmail.com

  • I would use this time to gain strength and athleticism.

You may not have access to a cage. You may not have access to a field. But you have access to time, and you have access to your body.

There are so many workouts and activities you can do to get stronger and gain athleticism at home. Don’t believe me? Just google, “Workouts to do from home during coronavirus” and you will get hundreds of results. Also, there has never been a better time to go outside and be active. Hiking, swimming, playing in the yard, etc. are all “social distancing” activities. Take advantage of this time and keep your body ready.

I want to reiterate that you are not “falling behind” in the recruiting process during coronavirus. But, I do think these things will help you line up the dominoes so when opportunity arises, you aren’t trying to get your act together…you already have it together, and you’re ready to take advantage of it.

Do the hard work first…wait patiently in the tall grass…stay vigilant…and when opportunity arises, jump on it!

I remember having no idea what to put in an email, or even the subject line. I didn’t know how to make a recruitment video, and I struggled gaining attention from coaches. In junior college, we formed a calculated strategy that worked like magic. I earned a scholarship to Mississippi State after hitting .208 my freshman year at the University of Oregon.

Join my email list to learn more about how you can gain attention from college coaches and simplify your recruiting process. (And don’t worry, I only send 2-3 per week so it’s enough to chew on, but not enough to clog your inbox).

In addition, feel free to email me with any questions you have regarding your personal recruiting process.

ballerbuilder@gmail.com

How to make a compelling recruiting video for $0 with your iPhone — *everything* you need to know about video in the recruiting process

There have been hundreds of articles written and videos made on creating the “perfect recruitment video.” I’ve read and watched almost every single one of them. I’ve gone through the recruiting process twice. The first time, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plan, and it showed. I had very little interest from colleges and couldn’t get any traction from my emails, despite being a good player (I now play professional baseball). The second time, we devised a plan, my campaign grew like wildfire, and I earned a scholarship to Mississippi State, even though my statistical numbers from the previous year were unimpressive (I hit .208 with 1 homerun). Video was a huge part of my success. It’s essential, but contrary to public opinion, it doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Here are a couple things I know to be true about video in the recruiting process: 

  1. Most of the information being passed around about how to make a recruitment video is not good. Some of it is fine, but most of it is BS. 
  2. Very few of the articles explain EXACTLY what video to take, how to take it, how to edit it, and how to upload it. Many of them are vague and leave you with more questions than you had when you clicked on the article (trust me, I know. I went through it, too). 
  3. Video is essential in your recruiting process, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult thing. In fact, it’s relatively simple. I’ll show you how. 

Your Most Pressing Questions, Answered

Let’s start with your most pressing questions. Your questions are probably similar to the ones I had when I was first learning how to navigate the recruiting process. I’ll give a brief answer to each one to show you that it will be worth your time to read the rest of the article, and then I’ll dive deeper into each one and some other tips after the FAQs. 

Do I need professional video equipment? 

Absolutely not. I’m going to go as far as to say that if you’re using professional video equipment, you’re doing it wrong. I’ll show you how to do it with an iphone. 

How do I edit the video?

This is one of the reasons we use the iphone…it makes editing and uploading the video easy. In less than 5 minutes, you can remove the unwanted beginning and end of your video to make it cleaner and more concise. I’ll show you how to do this below as well. 

What exactly do I show in the video? What do college coaches want to see?

College coaches want to see if you have good enough movement patterns to be developed into a college baseball player. They are not expecting you to be college-ready right away. They’re looking for a swing or windup or a fielding position that they can work with and develop. Fill your video with as much valuable movement as possible. Don’t send wasted swings or defensive reps. More on this later.

How long should my initial recruitment video be?

A maximum of 30 seconds per skill (hitting, defense, pitching). Each of these skills should be an individual video. (i.e. 30 second hitting video, 30 second defense video). 

Should it be game footage or is practice footage okay? 

If you have valuable game footage (footage you believe BEST showcases your skills), and the footage is clear and visible, feel free to use that. If you don’t have game video that shows your best skill, then using practice footage for your initial recruiting video is completely fine. In fact, it may even be advantageous since the coach will be able to see more swings than a one-swing game video. This is not a make or break question. Don’t lose sleep over it. We’ll cover this more in a little. 

What should the caption of the initial video be? 

List your name, the skill you are showing, (if it’s game footage) the team you’re playing on and the team you’re playing against, and the date. 

ex. “Jack Kruger Hitting | OCC vs. Cyprus | 4/21/2015 (<— If it was game footage)

ex. “Jack Kruger Defense | 4/21/2015 (<— If it was practice footage)

The Power of Video

In order to make your video effective, you have to understand why video is important in the first place. You need to know what the pain points of college coaches are and then you need to address them. You want to make this as easy on them as possible. The easier the process is for them, the more likely they are to view your video or follow up. So you must ask: what is the purpose of video?

At the most elementary level, college coaches need video because they can’t be everywhere at once. They don’t get the opportunity to watch every player live, right in front of their eyes. It’s not financially feasible, and they don’t have the time. So, video is the next best thing. It simulates watching a player live. This means that your video should closely resemble the experience of a college coach seeing you play live. Everything they want to see when they come to watch you play live is everything you should include in your video (don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging. We’re going to talk about what coaches want to see in your video). 

You may think that great stats are going to carry the weight, but the truth is that stats only go so far. High school stats don’t necessarily translate to success in college, and college coaches know this. In future emails, I’ll talk about stats and which ones you should include in your emails. But for now, I want to focus on video. Coaches are more interested in the movements you make when you hit and field a ground ball because they want to know if they can develop you into a reliable college baseball player. 

College baseball is focused on two things: development and winning. You may have been able to hit high school pitching with your current swing, but that swing may not translate to hitting college pitching. Video is important because coaches will be able to determine in just a few seconds whether you are either ready for college baseball or can be developed to be ready for it in a couple years. This is why video is important: it’s a better indicator of your college baseball performance than high school statistics.

Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty.

Who should take the video? 

You don’t need to hire someone to take your recruitment video. If it’s part of some package that a showcase or tournament offers, then that’s fine. But, you shouldn’t be hiring a freelance videographer to take your video. There’s no need for that. Your mom, dad, sister, brother, friend, girlfriend, teammate, or even coach can take the video. My dad took almost every single video I posted. The others were taken by teammates or assistant coaches when he couldn’t be at a game. 

I’m going to suggest that you take your video with your iphone or android phone (it’s very easy to edit and upload the video from an iphone). This is convenient for the person taking the video because they most likely will already have their phone on them. If your mom or dad isn’t at the game, maybe your friend can fill in for them. If your friend can’t make it, ask one of your teammates to take the video. 

If I were you, I would ask your coach if it’s okay to have a teammate use a phone to take video of you during the game. If they say no for some reason (which they might), I’m going to propose something radical… have your teammates do it secretly. I wouldn’t normally endorse something like this, but video is necessary to the success of your recruiting campaign. The coach almost certainly won’t notice, anyway. 

What gear is required to take the video?

An iphone or android phone. 

That’s it. That’s literally it. 

You don’t need special equipment or a nice camera or a laptop or fancy editing program. You only need your phone. I’ll show you.

3 Tenets for the Initial Recruitment Video

The 30 Second Rule

Your recruitment video shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds. A college coach isn’t going to watch more than 30 seconds of a video. If you want to send a hitting video and a defense video, make each one of them 30 seconds long (or shorter if you don’t think you need the full 30 seconds). I had some videos that were 10 or 15 seconds long. 

There are more advanced techniques to video that allow you to send longer videos (like full at-bats), but I’m not going to dive into that now. This article is specifically about the first video you send to colleges to see if they have interest in you. And this video shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds.

No music/creative editing

This one is self-explanatory. Don’t put music over your video. Don’t put creative editing or colors on top of your video. Send the most plain, easily visible video you possibly can. Keep it barebones. 

Provide value

That sounds scammy and vague, but it’s the truth. Your video should showcase the value you have as a player. Every part of your video should emphasize your strengths. Send the best swings you took that day. Send your best defensive play. Show the college coach how you can provide value to his program. That’s what recruiting is. He has a job to do, a position to fill. He wants to know if you can fill that role. Show him you can with your video. 

Taking the Video: The Angle

Your video is supposed to mimic a college coach watching you play live, right? This means that you should take the video from an angle where a coach would stand to watch you play. Now, every coach is different. They all have unique preferences of where they like to watch a game. But, it’s universally understood that you want to see hitting video from the open side view angle (If you’re a right handed hitter, the first base side. If you’re a left handed hitter, the third base side.). This is the optimal angle to review and dissect hitting mechanics when the video is slowed down. 

Multiple angles is always best, but make sure the optimal angle (that we just discussed) gets the most time in your video. 

There isn’t a rule of thumb for taking video of defense, though. Simply be sure to give the coach a clear view of the play being made, including the throw across the field. 

If it’s a pitching video, then it should be filmed similarly to a hitting video…film from the open side of the pitcher (Right handed pitcher, third base side. Left handed pitcher, first base side). In addition, you should take video from behind the mound so the coach can see the movement of each pitch.

Taking the Video: The Content

Your video needs to show how you can provide value to a college program. Fill the screen with your very best skills. If you’re using game video, it’s not necessary to include the entire at-bat where you swing and miss a couple times or complain about a call in the middle of the at-bat. If the at-bat is two pitches and the video is under 30 seconds, it’s fine to use that as your initial recruitment video. But coaches are really only looking for the swing. They’re not super interested in watching you run down to first base UNLESS you’re really fast. Then, you should definitely include it in your video because it’s one of your marketable skills.

I used to use videos of line outs, but I would cut the video almost immediately after the swing. This way, the coach saw the swing and saw that the result was a line drive, but didn’t see the outcome. He doesn’t need to see the outcome. It’s not important to him. He wants to see the swing. 

If you’re using practice video, give them a few swings to look at. Remember to keep the video under 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting front toss, BP, or off a machine in the video. You should be filming from the side, anyway. The coach won’t be able to tell, and honestly, he doesn’t care. He’s only looking at your mechanics. Your cage bombs won’t impress him. Good movement patterns will. 

Let’s talk about game film. There are a few advantages to using game film. The first is that it’s real. It’s not a controlled environment. There are several variable factors that you have to account for when you perform in a game, and this can be valuable information for a coach. The second is that game film allows a coach to see your general feel and comfort for the game. Are you comfortable in the box? Are you confident on the mound? How is your body language? What do you look like in comparison to the rest of the field? 

The third is that certain positions can better showcase skills in a game. This is true of catchers. So often in practice, catchers will cheat on their throws to second base. This can be misleading for a college coach and make it difficult to properly evaluate the skill of a catcher. However, if you send video of an in-game throw, it will give the coach an accurate reading of your ability to throw as a catcher. 

Keep in mind that certain positions should be highlighting important skills in practice videos. For instance, outfielders should showcase their arm. Middle infielders should showcase double play feeds and turns. Catchers should show receiving, blocking, and throwing. If you’re a pitcher who throws out of both the windup and the stretch, include both in your video. 

Editing the Video

Luckily, the iphone makes editing video very easy. I don’t have an android phone, so I won’t be able to speak directly to the editing on that phone. But there are a million videos on youtube of how to edit a video on an android. I’m sure it’s just as easy on an android phone as an iphone.

I’m going to spell it out for you, just for those of us who are a little more technically challenged. I’m technically challenged, and this is so easy that even I can do it. 

Once you have taken your video, find the “edit” button.

It will then show you a screen of your video and a timeline of your video at the bottom with an arrow at the beginning and end of that video. If you press on the arrows one at a time, you can drag the video to have it begin and end where you want it to. Do this for the beginning and the end of the video, removing any footage you don’t want (someone walking in the frame, a bad pitch, a bad swing, to cut the time to 30 seconds, etc). 

Once you have your video edited as you want it, click the “Done” button in the bottom right corner. 

 

It’s going to ask you how you want to save it (as the original video or as a new clip). I usually save it as a new clip so I can always go back and change the editing of the original video if I want to.  

Boom. You have your edited video. It really is that easy. 

Uploading the video

Now we need to upload your video to Youtube. 

I will be showing you how to do this on an iphone, not an android. (Again, there are hundreds of videos on youtube of how to take video on an android. It’s similar to an iphone). 

After you’ve signed into the Youtube account you want to upload it to, click your account profile in the top right corner. 

There will be a big red button with an arrow pointing up (for upload). Click that button. 


It will redirect you to an upload page where you will need to click on “Select files to upload.”  

It will then ask you where you want to find those files. More than likely, your edited video will be in your “Photo Library.”

Choose the video you want use and select “Choose.” Youtube will then process your video. When it’s done processing, you will then write the title and description for the video.  

For the initial video, a description is not necessary. Don’t feel compelled to write something if you don’t have anything you feel is vitally important to know when watching the video. I recommend leaving it blank and letting the video speak for itself. 

Finally, click “Publish.” It’s most likely in the top right corner of your screen. Your button will be blue when the video is done processing (mine is gray in this case because I took the screenshot before it was done processing). 

Boom. Done. Simply copy and paste the URL of the video in your emails to coaches. It’s that easy. The editing and uploading of the video should take you no longer than 15 minutes or so. Modern technology is a wonderful tool. Use it.

Examples and Last Thoughts

You now know everything you need to make a great initial recruiting video. If you have a question that wasn’t answered, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you. 

In future emails, I will be talking about other ways of using video to enhance your recruiting campaign.

In addition, all of the video I created and used for my recruiting process is on Youtube. Search “Jack Kruger Hitting” and go to my Youtube channel, “Jack Kruger,” to see every recruiting video I’ve made. See the note below before you do that. 

***NOTE: My sister played Division 1 softball at the University of Pittsburgh. She used the SAME SYSTEM and it worked well for her. This works in both the baseball and softball world. So, keep in mind that she has lots of recruiting videos on there as well. You may have to dig a little to find my videos as hers are more recent.***

 Most of my videos are from junior college when I learned how to market myself properly. Notice, some of my videos break the 30 second rule. There are even some other tricks I use in those videos. These are more advanced techniques and strategies that I have not discussed with you yet. Don’t follow suit. Stick to the 30 second rule for your initial recruiting video. 

Last thought…focus on the details. A scholarship is a business deal. Every move you make in your marketing campaign makes a difference, either positively or negatively. Every detail matters. Get the very best footage of your very best movements and show the college coach exactly how valuable to him you can be. And then, in return, test his value and make sure that his college program is valuable to YOU. Recruiting is a two way street, even if it doesn’t feel like it. College coaches need you as much as you need them. But more on this in future emails. 

If you want to learn how I earned interest from over 30 schools and landed a scholarship to Mississippi State after hitting .208 with 1 home run, join my email list. It’s free. 

VERY IMPORTANT: When you sign up, I’m gonna send you an email to say hi. If you don’t see that email in your inbox, check your spam/junk/promotions folder and dig it outta there!