Nation's Elite Prepare for National Signing Day; Other Prep Athletes follow New Trend in Search for Athletic Scholarships

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February 4 is National Signing Day for college football and several other NCAA sports. High school athletes are using online resources such as beRecruited.com to help identify opportunities to compete at the collegiate level.

The recruiting process is one of the most discussed and debated aspects in sports today, particularly around National Signing Day for football

As the nation's elite high school football players prepare for next week's National Signing Day, thousands of other prep athletes have turned to a social-networking service in hopes of connecting with college coaches to play their chosen sport and earn a scholarship. beRecruited.com, a free service, has helped to facilitate thousands of collegiate athletic scholarships for student-athletes across the nation by providing an online networking platform to connect coaches with student-athletes. The service, which experienced record growth in 2008, has more than 400,000 registered users, including more than 365,000 student-athletes, 14,000 college coaches, 12,500 high school coaches and 9,500 parents.

"The recruiting process is one of the most discussed and debated aspects in sports today, particularly around National Signing Day for football," said Jeff Cravens, president of beRecruited.com. "While Feb. 4 is a big day for college football and several other sports, it is just the initial signing day and thousands of aspiring college athletes will commit to a school over the next few months."

By creating a profile with beRecruited.com, high school athletes can instantly connect with registered college coaches across America. Athletes update their profiles with recent statistics, videos and photos, and college coaches can view the profiles that fit their programs and connect with the athletes. Coaches are alerted via email when an athlete fits their parameters.

"beRecruited allows us to branch out and be a national recruiter, without the high costs associated with travel and time," said Jason Challeen, assistant football coach at Jamestown College. "Last year I signed 16 recruits to scholarships from the service and will sign more this year. beRecruited has definitely become part of our recruiting process and an extremely useful resource that we will continue to use."

Since Oct. 1, the site has added 324 registered college football coaches, representing a 46% increase from the total registered football coaches all time. Additionally, more than 2,500 new coaches overall have joined the site since Oct. 1.

"I've had more than 30 coaches contact me since joining, and I am entertaining several offers," said Kirsten Bladek, a volleyball player from the Denver area. "I recently visited New Mexico Highlands University, where they offered me a scholarship. It's very exciting, but I'm still considering all my options. The key is to keep your profile updated with photos and information, especially videos. The service is easy and the way my generation likes to communicate, social networking. I'd definitely recommend the service to anyone who wants to play and earn a scholarship."

Tough economic times, emergence of technology, and the upcoming recruiting season have collectively contributed to beRecruited's record growth numbers, company executives said, as parents look to off-set the rising costs of education and colleges look to recruit more efficiently and effectively.

"In these challenging economic times, high school athletes, their parents, and college coaches are utilizing beRecruited's platform," Cravens said. "Our platform helps athletes identify schools that meet their academic and athletic interests, and their profiles provide college coaches the information necessary to efficiently find athletes that are qualified and have an interest in their program, saving hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars out of shrinking travel budgets."

The company's service is free, maintaining the founders' principle of providing a free resource for athletes. For a one-time fee of $39.99 athletes can enhance their profiles by becoming a deluxe-user. Founded in 2000 by Ryan Spoon, a collegiate swimmer for Duke University, it was first created exclusively for NCAA swimming and diving and now serves athletes and coaches from 18 different sports. For more information, visit http://www.berecruited.com.

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