Dick Harmon: New service makes NFL pros available to evaluate your kid

Published: Monday, Jan. 21 2013 5:35 p.m. MST

It’s a think-tank kind of thing that just might work.

Business plans come and go all the time. But this one might find a track.

It’s called Coached by Pros, and it is a locally based national service for young football talent who seek improvement and opportunities to use their abilities and play college ball.

The concept is simple. An athlete chooses a professional player to evaluate his film, analyze his strengths and weaknesses and provide a detailed report where he can improve; if he qualifies as a major college prospect, he is referred to college recruiters.

It's an idea hatched by former BYU linebackers Jadon Wagner and Jordan Pendleton.

The business would certainly fail if it didn't have two things: first, an Internet vehicle and, second, actual professional football players available to work on the plan. This past week, the website went live after months of current and former NFL players signing contracts to go to work on this patented idea.

"This is the first and only process of its kind that gathers professional football players to take a look at young talent and directly provide this kind of information," said Wagner.

I was skeptical until I saw the names on contracts of some of the NFL stars: players like Garrison Hearst, Cornelius Bennett and Chris Calloway, to mention a few. In the mix are local collegians who are currently playing or have retired from NFL rosters, like Ty Detmer, Andre Dyson, Daniel Coats, David Nixon, Fahu Tahi, Junior Ioane, Kevin Dyson and Chris Hoke.

"The pro you choose will personally watch your film and coach you up, provide assistance, tips and criticism as part of your evaluation," said Wagner.

"The pros will provide a rating, from one to five stars. If you qualify higher than 3.6 stars in your evaluation, it means your pro has determined you have the ability and skills to play college football," said Wagner. "We have built a network among college recruiters and we will pass your evaluation along to universities.

"We do not guarantee a scholarship, but this evaluation can be considered an endorsement by somebody who knows the game, a professional, and that certainly can't hurt in getting recruited and the attention deserved."

The idea's success, of course, will be determined by the quick and accurate response time by the professionals. Wagner says those NFL personalities who have signed to participate are enthusiastic and committed to be involved in the process.

Why might this work? It fills a vacuum.

Let's face it. All kinds of "services" have cropped up, promising to get athletes some level of recognition. Some work, some do not. Primarily, if a kid is talented, he is going to be discovered and recruited. Talent rises to the top. Look no further than BYU's Ziggy Ansah, who was not recruited and had to walk on. But by the time he ended his senior year at the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, he was atop many NFL mock drafts as a first-round pick.

It is true, some businesses or systems can help, not only in development, but in getting recognition. More than ever, the Internet has become a key tool in blasting out information about football and basketball talent. Accurate or not, the most cited services are Scout.com and Rivals.com. These subscription "news" services have sought to be more information providers than development pathways through databases and are affiliated with very popular combine summer camps that do get recruits noticed.

In the recruiting process, myriad services have cropped up over the years. Some of them just take money and shuffle papers and forms and may not amount to much for parents and their sons.

This one is unique in that it uses credible eyes, professionals who have spent careers in film rooms breaking down opponents, plays, systems and schemes. The response does carry some validity and credibility. If Hearst says you can play at a high level, people believe it.

Coached by Pros says it can deliver an evaluation in about seven to 10 days once the proper steps are followed to sign up, submit a profile and upload two very specific kinds of videos.

Is this a legitimate way to find exposure for your kid? Well, the cost is manageable, a little over a hundred bucks.

This price is a pittance compared to what I've seen parents pay for kids to attend camps, hire personal quarterback coaches and the like. I know a dozen high school quarterbacks over the years who have paid thousands of dollars for these services to see their sons receive elite instruction.

In the end, they did improve and were offered college scholarships, but it cost them a ton of time and coin.

Bottom line: There are many gateways out there for your kid. This is a new one. Pick and spend your money wisely, but your kid still has to perform. And your genes might be the best factor in all of this.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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