College Recruiting During COVID-19

Ryan Egan pitching

College Recruiting has been affected by COVID-19 and the global pandemic. Athletes, coaches, and varsity sports programs have had to adapt across the United States.

In college recruiting, there are different time periods and phases. These different phases restrict and determine when coaches can meet with athletes and evaluate them at the recruit’s high school. The four periods on the recruiting calendar are contact, evaluation, quiet, and dead. During a contact period, a college coach can have face-to-face contact and can watch athletes compete at their high school. Whereas, during an evaluation period, the college coach cannot have face-to-face contact but can watch them compete at their high school. During a quiet period, the college coach cannot watch them compete or have face-to-face contact. They can only write to the college-bound student-athlete and have a telephone call. During a dead period, the college coach cannot write to the student-athlete or make a telephone call. These periods are put into place so it ensures fairness among schools.

There are many Morgan student-athletes that are in the college recruiting process. Some of these students are Senior Robert Zirlis and Senior Caitlyn Donadio. Also, former Morgan Student Ryan Egan, who re-classed at The Taft School in Watertown, CT in 2019 has been actively involved in the college recruiting process.

Senior Caitlyn Donadio Morgan basketball (Kimberly Inglis)

Caitlyn Donadio started her college recruiting process for basketball the summer going into her junior year before the recent pandemic. She said, “Before, when I was talking to coaches, it was easy to meet with them on campus and get to know the team, but now with the restrictions at the colleges, some of my top schools I cannot get out of the car and step on campus.”

Senior Caitlyn Donadio Morgan basketball (Kimberly Inglis)

However, Caitlyn, fortunately, was able to meet all the coaches in person except for one. The postponing of the winter sports season has not affected Caitlyn a lot because she was able to play on club teams over the summer and still has been able to become a better basketball player. Caitlyn said, “I have simple weights in my basement that I have been using and making sure I am staying in shape, touching a basketball, and play basketball.” Besides working on becoming a better athlete Caitlyn has been emailing the coaches and texting them consistently, staying in contact. Caitlyn shared, “A tip for any future Morgan recruits, make sure you promote yourself and send emails out to coaches whether they show interest or not, follow them with updates and stay in touch with them.” Caitlyn often communicated with college coaches once or twice a week.

Senior Robert Zirlis playing basketball (Kimberly Inglis)

Robert Zirlis started his college recruiting process in early June this year in the midst of the global pandemic and recently committed to Mitchell College in September. Originally Robbie had an interest in playing basketball in college during his junior year, but it wasn’t until after the pandemic that he decided to pursue baseball. Robbie said, “When we had to quarantine, I started working out with baseball and in the gym, and I started seeing progression through baseball, making tremendous progress and then baseball coaches started to reach out, so I figured baseball was the way to go.” Besides baseball, Robbie is also going to play basketball at Mitchell College because of an unexpected occurrence. He said, “I was talking to the baseball coach, and while I was talking to him the basketball coach saw me, and I talked to him a little and offered me a try out after seeing a clip of me playing basketball.” For Robbie, it was hard to talk to the coach in person, and Robbie only texted him, but his baseball pitching coach helped him out with contacting the coaches.

Senior Robert Zirlis shooting a foul shot (Kimberly Inglis)

Eventually, it worked out, and Robbie committed to Mitchell College. He chose Mitchell College because, “their baseball program is really good, and I think I would be a good fit with the program, and second, it is close to home, only thirty minutes away.” For many athletes, the cancellations of the spring sports season affected them negatively, but for Robbie, it benefited him. Robbie said, “I was excited to play baseball and finish basketball, but it showed how much work I put in. I could have done nothing and sit home, but during quarantine is when I started to take baseball and basketball seriously, in the gym, on the mound, on the field and court.” What helped Robbie was the club team he played for over the summer. It gave Robbie the opportunity to present the growth and skills he worked hard for.

Former Morgan Student Ryan Egan who currently is a junior at The Taft School committed to Division I Fordham University at the end of the summer. Ryan started the recruiting process roughly two years ago. He explained that he started by “talking to coaches and seeing what kind of schools I can see myself at and taking the initiative to reach out to those schools.” Ryan has always had aspirations of playing Division I baseball. Although COVID-19 did change a lot of things, it did not stop him from making his dreams become reality. He said, “Before COVID-19 it was a lot easier to be seen. Coaches were a lot more active, but then the NCAA implemented the dead period where it made it a lot more challenging for colleges to go out there and see you. There were a lot of videotapes of my performance and sending it to them.” Ryan said, “they never got to see me play in person.” Ryan never met the coaches in person at Fordham and was strictly on phone and Zoom calls.

Ryan Egan at Fordham University’s Baseball Facility (Sara Egan)

Ryan said he chose Fordham because “I love the coaching staff. They really know how to get guys to the next level. They are so caring about their players.” Ryan thought the campus was beautiful. He said, “When people hear Fordham they know exactly what they are talking about, and I wanted that. It seemed the best of all worlds.”
Ryan took the time when he was at home to get serious about the weight room and nutrition. Ryan focused on using this time to develop as a player and was planning on committing next summer and not this summer. Besides the grind and training, his parents and certain advisors helped him through the recruiting process.

Ryan Egan at Fordham University (Sara Egan)

Academically, Ryan plans on pursuing a political science degree or a major in business. Ryan shared advice for future college-bound athletes: “keep grinding, the development I had in a short period of time, I credit that to hard work.” Ryan believes that more athletes would benefit by following this advice. He said, “Take it upon yourself. If you truly want to play college sports, you need to take it upon yourself. Make sure you are reaching out to coaches, and make sure there is something that you have or do that makes you stand out to those coaches.”

Ryan Egan pitching (Sara Egan)

I wish the best to Caitlyn, Robbie, Ryan, and any Morgan student-athletes that are currently or will be going through the college recruiting process during these difficult times.