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.