A recruiter for the lesser-known guys

Bob Presley wants to help prep athletes extend their playing days into college, but coaches and administrators are mixed about his plan.

New York-based Northeast College Prospects, which opened in 1994, has expanded to the West Coast and recently opened a one-man office in Silverdale.

Presley’s job is to guide less sought-after high school athletes through the recruiting process.

“We don’t gear toward the Marvin Williamses of the world. They know what they’re looking for,” Presley said. “But what about all those other guys? The little lesser-known guys that these big recruiters aren’t looking at. That’s where we come in.”

The process begins with a meeting between the student-athlete, the athlete’s legal guardian and Presley, who puts together a complimentary “recruiting” evaluation based on the student-athlete’s GPA, extracurricular activities and stats, among others.

Once the evaluation is complete, the student-athlete and guardian choose from one of four recruiting packages, ranging from the $895 basic program to the $1,995 premium package. All packages are one-time fees.

Presley then assembles a player profile, sending it out to between 150 and 450 schools, depending on the package.

The program is designed to facilitate a foot-in-the-door process between student-athletes and college coaches, and he’s quick to say he isn’t guaranteeing student-athletes a scholarship.

“We’re there to connect the coach and the athlete,” Presley said. “It’s up to the coach to make that offer. We don’t promise anything.”

College Prospects has helped more than 3,000 high-school athletes extend their playing days into college, Presley said, and it boasts a 97 percent success rate.

That rate, however, is based on participants receiving interviews with college coaches, not earning scholarships, and about 80 percent of those athletes were recruited on the East Coast.

But Presley is confident there is a niche in his new territory, which includes Western Washington and Western Oregon. The company also has offices in Yakima and Spokane.

“I absolutely see a need,” he said of Kitsap. “If just a handful —10 athletes a year from the schools — want to go some place, and they have no idea how to do it, that’s where we come in.”

Most College Prospects clients are not blue-chip recruits, Presley said, because blue-chippers — like the Atlanta Hawks’ Marvin Williams, who grew up in Bremerton — don’t need the service.

Instead, the program targets student-athletes who may be worthy of a roster spot on a college team, but aren’t being recruited or need help getting started.

Whether the former football coach and sports writer can find success in the area remains to be seen.

Central Kitsap High School Athletic Director Bill Baxter called it an “interesting concept,” but questioned the costs and pointed to a potential misconception — that parents may think their child will land a scholarship through the program, when in reality, it’s no guarantee.

“It’s sort of a neat deal in one way,” he said. “But in another way, it’s a lot of money.”

Money is a concern for others, too.

Nate Andrews, athletic director at Olympic High School, pointed to the demographics of his school, wondering if parents would prefer to spend their money elsewhere.

“I look at the students at Olympic High School and I don’t see it appealing to very many of the families,” he said. “A lot of them can’t afford it.”

On the flip side, however, Andrews said the program could be a helpful service to those who are willing to spend.

Central Kitsap fastpitch coach Bruce Welling, who coached the select Diamond Dusters for 23 seasons, questioned whether the program is a worthwhile investment for parents.

Welling has produced about 15 recruiting tapes —free of charge — for Central Kitsap fastpitch players who went on to play college ball.

Additionally, he believes coaches are more credible than recruiters because coaches see their athletes on a consistent basis and know their reputations would suffer if they embellish an athlete’s talents.

“All the coaches in the area know more than they do,” Welling said of recruiters. “If someone told you about me, as a coach, and you didn’t know him from Adam, would you listen to him?”

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