What Col­lege Coach­es Are Real­ly Look­ing for in a High­light Video

Nebras­ka Direc­tor of Play­er Per­son­nel Ryan Gun­der­son breaks down how to craft the best high­light videos — and the snags to avoid.

What Col­lege Coach­es Are Real­ly Look­ing for in a High­light Video

Nebras­ka Direc­tor of Play­er Per­son­nel Ryan Gun­der­son breaks down how to craft the best high­light videos — and the snags to avoid.

From man­ag­ing his team and scout­ing oppo­nents, to per­form­ing video analy­sis and recruit­ing, a col­lege coach’s sched­ule is jam-packed. With so lit­tle free time, some­thing (or some­one) needs to be real­ly spe­cial to catch his attention.

That’s why it’s crit­i­cal for ath­letes to cre­ate quick, effec­tive high­light videos. Make one or two mis­takes and the coach is mov­ing on.

We enlist­ed the help of Ryan Gun­der­son, the Nebras­ka direc­tor of play­er per­son­nel and for­mer Ore­gon State quar­ter­back, to learn how coach­es watch high­light videos and find out what ath­letes should avoid doing in the process. 

Make It Brief but Impactful

Gun­der­son empha­sized the impor­tance of brevi­ty. Time is one of a coach’s most valu­able assets, and the staff doesn’t have the patience to watch every player’s 10-minute high­light reel. A recruit has a few pre­cious sec­onds to stand out.

Always put your best stuff first,” Gun­der­son said. Don’t save your best stuff for last. Put it up front. You may only get 30 sec­onds or a minute of somebody’s time and if that doesn’t impress them right away, they’re not going to turn your film back on.”

Coach­es rarely make it to the end of even the most impres­sive high­light videos. Gun­der­son said coach­es will typ­i­cal­ly watch a good video for two to three min­utes, then turn to game tape to see if the ath­lete is con­sis­tent­ly dom­i­nant or just has a few explo­sive plays.

Gun­der­son rec­om­mend­ed a lim­it of five min­utes for a high­light video, and added that elite prospects won’t need that much time to prove their worth.

Depend­ing on who the kid is, he may need to show only ten plays,” Gun­der­son said. Some guys just need a ten-clip­per or a five-clip­per. It’s five plays and it’s not even hard to tell the kid is a stud. If you can get 25 – 30 plays on a tape, that’s prob­a­bly plenty.”

Take Der­rion Grim for exam­ple. His high­light is long, but Grim starts it with six straight touch­downs, all of which show off dif­fer­ent strengths. A coach doesn’t need to wade through Grim’s entire video to see what he has to offer. It quick­ly becomes appar­ent why Rivals ranked him as the nation’s No. 37 ath­lete in the 2016 class.

Add Vari­ety to Your Highlight

Ath­letes should use dif­fer­ent types of plays to put their full array of skills on video. It’s a mis­take to include ones that high­light just one part of a player’s game. 

For instance, show­ing a series of 50-yard runs when a run­ning back bounced to the perime­ter shows off his speed. But to give a coach a full under­stand­ing of his skills, the back should include clips of him break­ing tack­les, juk­ing safeties and catch­ing passes.

It’s good to show­case your speed, your vari­ety, your change of direc­tion, all that type of stuff,” Gun­der­son said. You need to find the plays that high­light those things.”

Josh Rosen pro­vid­ed a good sam­ple of this in his senior video. He starts by dis­play­ing his arm strength with a cou­ple of deep throws, but also proves he can exe­cute seam, fade, cor­ner and slant routes, and he has abil­i­ty to move in the pock­et and make tough throws under pressure.

And show plays that fin­ish in the end zone, espe­cial­ly ear­ly in the high­light. Get­ting tack­led isn’t a way to impress prospec­tive recruiters.

Our wide receivers coach (Kei­th Williams) always says, I don’t want to see you get­ting tack­led at the begin­ning of your high­light film. I’m not impressed by you get­ting tack­led,’” Gun­der­son said.

Think About the Music Selection

Hudl gives users music options to cre­ate a unique high­light expe­ri­ence and wow friends and fam­i­ly. Accord­ing to Gun­der­son, that’s fine — for the most part. Just don’t expect it to get coach­es too hyped up. 

Gun­der­son typ­i­cal­ly watch­es high­lights on mute, so music doesn’t affect him one way or the oth­er. But he’s noticed a few times when recruits includ­ed tracks with vul­gar lyrics, a move that caused him to ques­tion their judgment.

You just think about it and you’re like, You know you’re send­ing this out to col­lege coach­es and they’re going to watch it,’” Gun­der­son said. “‘Are you dumb? Why would you do that?’’ ”

Quick Hits

Here are a few last tips from Gunderson.

  • Don’t inter­rupt a play to spot­light your­self. If you do use a spot­light, do it before the play begins. Paus­ing mid-play inter­rupts the video and makes it tough to judge flu­id­i­ty and athleticism.
  • If you play both sides of the ball, feel free to share clips from mul­ti­ple posi­tions. For exam­ple, if a line­backer prospect also plays run­ning back, Gun­der­son rec­om­mend­ed includ­ing some high­lights on offense. Those clips can show­case flex­i­bil­i­ty and catch a coach’s eye.
  • Con­struct high­lights before your senior sea­son. But if you aren’t get­ting the offers you want, Gun­der­son rec­om­mend­ed mak­ing anoth­er video from the first three or four games of your final year to try and gen­er­ate new interest.

Your high­light is often a coach’s first expo­sure to you as an ath­lete and can play a crit­i­cal role in the recruit­ing process. Now that you know what coach­es are look­ing for, it’s time to get start­ed on your video.