Committing to the process

Seniors+Josh+Payne-White%2C+Ky%27el+Hemby%2C+Damon+Lloyd%2C+Kurt+Rawlings%2C+and+Alex+Rasmussen+%28left+to+right%29+officially+ended+the+recruiting+process+with+help+of+varsity+football+head+coach+Keith+Rawlings+%28back+center%29+after+they+sign+their+National+Letters+of+Intent.+During+this+signing+period%2C+seven+student+athletes+committed+to+Division+I+and+Division+II+colleges.

Kishan Patel

Seniors Josh Payne-White, Ky'el Hemby, Damon Lloyd, Kurt Rawlings, and Alex Rasmussen (left to right) officially ended the recruiting process with help of varsity football head coach Keith Rawlings (back center) after they sign their National Letters of Intent. During this signing period, seven student athletes committed to Division I and Division II colleges.

With fellow football teammates having already committed to a college senior Josh Payne-White was the odd man out. He was struggling to make a commitment to a school, knowing the implications that go with deciding where he will spend the next four years of his life.

Payne-White finally ended up choosing Bowie State University Feb. 1, and with the weight off his back, signed his National Letter of Intent ending what he called, a “long and hectic” recruiting process.

He went to football camps and combines the summer before senior year trying to give himself as much exposure as possible.

“[Head] coach Keith [Rawlings] does a great job advertising us to college coaches. However, it was hard to get a feel for not only what school was the best fit for me, but how much the coaches wanted me,” Payne-White said.

According to Rawlings, “players should play hard all the time and let recruiting fall where it may. They should play for the school, parents, teammates, and themselves. Players try too hard around college coaches.”

For athletes like Payne-White the recruiting process is initiated in any number of ways. Some college coaches have scouts that go out and recruit specific types of players, but players have to put themselves out there as well.

For example, senior golfer Taylor Mezzatesta made a “swing video/resume” and sent it to colleges to get his name out there. Soon after, they came and watched Mezzatesta play in golf tournaments. He was later invited to play a practice round at Chestnut Hill College with the golf team. It was not long after that he was offered an athletic scholarship.

“I was really nervous waiting to hear because Chestnut Hill was my first choice. It had everything I was looking for in a school,” Mezzatesta said.

Another player who was recruited for college sports was senior Sam Carey for lacrosse.

“For lacrosse you have to email the coaches of the school you want to notice you. With Campbell I never emailed them. They got in touch with coach [Abigail] Swift, and then I contacted them soon after when they began to show interest in me,” Carey said.

Carey received an athletic scholarship from Campbell University, and recently signed her National Letter of Intent.

Recruiting happens all over the world for various sports and can take people to new places. Senior Mantvydas ‘Monty’ Urmilevicius came to JC from Lithuania to pursue his basketball career.

Men’s varsity basketball head coach Tony Martin organizes college showcases with Division I and II coaches to gain exposure for his players.

“At JC we go above and beyond to market and promote our student athletes by creating a database of contact information that includes the email addresses and phone numbers to every Division I, II, and III NAIA [National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics], and JUCO [Junior College] in the country,” Martin said.

This kind of exposure  gives players opportunities to get an athletic scholarship. “It is in this environment that our players are most comfortable and we can control showcasing their strengths and limiting their weaknesses,” Martin said.

Urmilevicius had interest from James Madison but from the college showcases caught the interest from Bryant University.

“Now that I have committed to Bryant University, it makes it that much more special knowing that coming to the United States gave me this opportunity to get a full athletic scholarship for college,” Urmilevicius said.

Recruiting isn’t limited to games or showcases. Athletes have to make an extreme time commitment to hone their craft and train, as well as keeping up with the academic side.

Katy Sharretts, class of ‘15, was recruited to play lacrosse at San Diego State University.

“You should have fun because it is the best time of your life. Also be adaptable to changes. The college coaches might do things differently and you have to go along with it.”

According to Martin, there are 18 former Patriots competing in men’s college basketball this season alone.

Mike Moxley is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.