Today marks my final official day as a daily member of the SportsRecruits team. Please, don’t cry. Fine, you can cry a little. Okay, that’s enough. Get a hold of yourself.

As my time comes to a close, I wanted to share some things I learned in the recruiting space the past three years.

To say the scene changed since I went through the process in 2004 would be a gross understatement. It would be like saying Veep is just an alright show (If you are not watching that program, I advise you to stop reading right now, go binge it, and then come back).

Club teams, showcases and specialization are the new norm. Enjoying a sport seems to have taken a back seat to using it as a means to an end. Too often, a dutiful responsibility permeated a game or event I witnessed, creating a vacuum that was often filled by negativity. Games I watched felt as though a dementor was presiding over everything, slowly sucking the life and joy out of the place.

Yes, that was a Harry Potter reference. No, I’m not sorry.

Let’s change that. At their best, sports bring us together. There is a reason we love going to games, becoming close with complete strangers for hours at a time. We are social beings, and we want to experience things together. Sports can do that for us.

My biggest piece of advice from what I have seen the past three years in the recruiting space: Get back to enjoying the game. Play for the reason you played when you first started. Watch games for the reasons you are a fan. Coach for the reasons you loved the game before. Let sports bring you together; not turn you into a fanatic parent, money hungry coach or showboating participant.

Below are five other things – a bit more practical than the Sermon on the Mount above – that I learned in the recruiting space that may help you on your journey.

Thanks for reading over the past few years, and if you remember one thing from my words in this space: Watch Veep. And also, follow me on Twitter. That too.

In the famous not last words of Michael Scott: Goodnight…and good luck.

5 Tips for a Better Recruitment

1. Focus on Academics

Too often, the “student” part of student-athlete is an afterthought. But face it; you’re going pro in something other than sports. You should be using sports as a vehicle to get you into the best school possible.

So challenge yourself in the classroom as much as you do on the field or court. Take AP classes. Take honors classes. Study. Not only will it make you a more well-rounded person, but more practically, it will open more doors for you to play in college.

Many coaches when seeing an athlete first have to ask, “but can they get into the school?” Be the student-athlete where that question is a mark for you; not against you.

2. Be Wary of Social Media

Things like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram et. al. are fun. They are great ways to stay in touch with friends and share experiences. However, they can also be a hindrance when it comes to recruiting.

While this may come as somewhat of a surprise, college coaches have this thing called “Google.” This means when they are recruiting you, they have the capability (and responsibility) to perform their due diligence.

If you have things on the Internet that can make a coach question your character, judgment or commitment, it will be a large red flag.

So, be cognizant of your social media accounts, because coaches can and likely will see your posts at some point. Do not put anything online that you would not want read by your parents, college coaches or teachers.

What you put on the Internet is a direct reflection on you. Avoid bad language or subjects that would be considered sensitive. Use your discretion. Remember, what’s written on the Internet is written in non-erasable ink. Deleting posts or editing them will not stop an earlier screenshot or some other database from capturing it in perpetuity.

If you would not say something to your parents, coaches or teachers in person, do not put it online. A quick laugh or throwaway joke is not worth the chance at your dream school.

3. Don’t Compare

“He already committed to a school!” “She is going on a visit this weekend!” The comparison game starts early, and can be crippling.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the recruiting complex that exists now. When this happens, pressure can begin to dictate choices – and often, the best decisions are not made in these conditions.

One major lesson I’ve learned over the past few years is that everyone’s recruiting process is different. Instead of looking around at what others are doing, focus instead on your college search.

It may be hard to block out the noise, but future you will thank you.

4. Get a Highlight Reel

Video has become such a major part of recruiting. While it’s not going to get you into a school, it will help get a coach interested in your game.

Our numbers indicate that you are 3X as likely to commit to a school if you have video. So, be sure you have a plan in place to get a highlight reel and game video. Yes, it’s a hassle. Yes, it’s annoying. No, on it’s own, it won’t get you recruited. But yes, it will help.

Shameless plug: SportsRecruits is hosting a video webinar next week. Sign up for it here. It’s free, and the education will assist your process.

5. Do the Small Things

Almost every college coach I’ve spoken with over the past three years told me they look for small things when recruiting. Things like hustling or congratulating teammates that may go unnoticed by the untrained eye will not go unnoticed by college coaches.

Be the best player you can, but remember to do the little things. You’d be surprised by how far they can take you.