Online social networks change recruiting landscape for high school athletes

Coaches, colleges, and conferences have used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to break the fourth wall with their desired audience, whether that means devoted fans or potential recruits — and now the same technology gives high school stars a new way to interact and publish their own messages, reports. In the past, virtually all news about top prospects came from recruiting web sites or traditional media reports. But players such as Devin Gardner, a highly touted quarterback who has committed to attending the University of Michigan, now can cut out the middleman. Gardner maintains an active Facebook page that includes his highlight videos and frequent status updates, and he routinely accepts “friend” requests from fans. Both Gardner and running back prospect Marcus Lattimore of Duncan, S.C., say they’ve used Facebook to talk with coaches. They’ve also connected with other recruits around the country, sharing notes about different colleges and talking about their futures. With recruits talking about everything from their recent visits to their general likes and dislikes on these sites, college coaches know they had better refresh those pages often…

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