Jason Montanez of Houston-based Catapult Leadership speaks at the 2019 Personnel Symposium as part of Inside the League's contingent which provided tips on how to get a job in NFL scouting.
Typically, the beginning of August means a return to practices and the ramp-up to the kickoff of a new season for college football professionals. However, for the second year, it meant something more: the return of the
Nashville gathering for members of the growing personnel and evaluation community in college football.
This year's event brought together more than 300 attendees from all over the college football map, with several schools 7-8 members of their recruiting staff to learn, meet and grow at the two-day event. Taking the stage were experts on event production and networking; panels made up of seasoned member of college football staffs; and some of the brighter lights in the football media.
Participants we spoke to were united in their excitement with the level of organization and quality of speakers in Nashville.
"I thought it was an excellent event that was very well-organized and run," said Price Burton, who's a recruiting quality control assistant at Toledo. "I learned a tremendous amount from (NFL Network's)
Daniel Jeremiah and (The Athletic's)
Michael Lombardi about non-negotiable traits and skills you need to build a roster. Great networking event as well; met a lot of great minds in the personnel business in (college football)."
Even some of the, ahem, lesser-known presenters drew kudos. "Neil and his staff's presentation was one of the more informative presentations at the symposium," said Will Christopherson, Director of Player Personnel Operations at Maryland. "His discussion included topics of identifying what traits it takes to make it, how to build your network, and provided tips from professionals on what to and not to do. For anyone trying to break into the business, Neil has a blueprint to help you be successful."
With more than 300 personnel professionals from across the country involved, you couldn't help but leave with a fistful of business cards. Bryan Ault, who publishes
and who's served at Ball State as well as with National Preps, said he made a lot of new friendships.
"The symposium was a great event and a heck of a networking opportunity," he said. "I wish I had it when I was a student in college. I would have gone all four years. Everyone involved in football personnel should attend, and that's including NFL scouts too, if they are able. It should grow. You can tell colleges work extremely hard at what they do."
Meanwhile, Justin Perez, Assistant Director of Player Personnel at Ohio State, came away with a new outlook on evaluation. "I learned that building a good football program is less about finding and more about eliminating players that don't fit your designated list of non-negotiables for each position group," he said.
With so many football-minded professionals on hand, it's no surprise the event was a favorite for vendors.
Eleven companies were counted among the event's sponsors
, and representatives ringed the back of the room, chatting with recruiting coordinators, graphic designers, event organizers and personnel professionals of every stripe.
"This event continues to impress," said Luke Pitcher, founder of
. "It's an unbelievable opportunity to get the brightest minds in college football recruiting together for a few days to share ideas and network." Also, "the networking and customer input is unparalleled," according to Aaron Hunter, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of
Tracking Football LLC
. Added Cory Nicol, Director of Customer Success at
, "the symposium gives you a well-rounded view of what it takes to make it in the recruiting/scouting/personnel business. . . It's a great event for anyone in the business."
Interested in learning more about this week's symposium? We had highlights from a handful of the presentations as well as even more feedback from those who attended in
today's post on our weekly blog, Succeed in Football
. Make sure to check out Jeremiah's 'origin story,' Beddingfield's illustration of how to walk the fine line between being persistent and stalking, and more
in today's post
. We also hope to have our entire presentation, including all three speakers, on
our YouTube channel
within a week, two at most. Meanwhile, here's a look at what else we heard, saw, read or said in the world of college and pro football this week.
The 2019 NFLPA Contract Advisor Class by registration year:
for the first time since 2013
, we took
an extended look at the makeup of the NFL agent community
. Unlike our feature six years ago, this time, we simply broke down the certification year for the nearly 800 player reps certified as of Thursday. It's a good time to look at the class a couple months before the new agent class is certified and fees are due for the '19-'20 term. Here are a few things we found out.
- Almost a third of the agent class (about 31 percent) is woefully inexperienced. In fact, given the difficulty in getting traction in the business, nearly a third of all reps will not only be new, but will have no one on NFL rosters come September.
- On the other hand, seasoned agents are becoming more and more rare. As we pointed out on Twitter, only about 20 percent of the agent community got certified before 2000. In most walks of life, two decades of experience is when a person really gets established in a business. When it comes to being an NFL agent, however, few last that long.
- More inexperience: Two-thirds of all agents have gotten certified since 2009. After '09, only one agent class has more than 20 contract advisors left (24 from '05).
- Things were especially bleak for the class of 2015, which has only 31 survivors remaining. This is primarily because 2015 was the year when the NFLPA put the hammer down on its annual exam, significantly increasing its difficulty. We counted 176 agents certified in 2014; that number dropped to just 75 in '15, of which less than half are still cooking. Totals rebounded to around 100-plus for subsequent classes, explaining why '15 has been hammered. Given that the three-year rule is sure to take out some of its members, we could see the class decrease even more by October.
We'll have more dissection of the agent class next week. In the meantime, draw your own conclusions by clicking
2020 ITL 250/2021 ITL 100:
Before this year, we revised our list of the top 250 seniors and top 100 underclassmen prospects in the draft every 6-7 weeks, making revisions of 10-12 players each time. This year, we're taking a new approach. As we move through our daily
, we're reviewing our picks and making changes. Next week, for instance, we'll be adding Northwestern's
(how did we miss him?) to
the ITL 100
and omitting someone from the list. We haven't made the subtraction yet, but we will next week. Make sure you're keeping up with
our ITL 250
and 100 to get a list of the latest additions (
) and removals (listed on each page), and we'll highlight each change in our
. Many of these changes will come as a result of our
ITL Team Scouting Reports
our guys had Fisher rated as a first-rounder in '21
). We hope this new policy means we'll have better, more updated lists that more accurately reflect the players who'll be invited to the combine this winter. Got any questions? Player suggestions? Let us know.
2019 Personnel Symposium
is over. We're at a stopping point on our
2020 Contacts List,
at least for now. Report requests for the
ITL Scouting Department
have slowed as we await new film from the '20 season. That means it's time, once and for all, to get caught up on a few long-overdue items. First order of business will be our
Agent Changes reports
; we're three reports behind and about two weeks away from being four behind. We'll bear down. We'll also have two more
ITL Team Scouting Reports
, in our series; we're up to 16 so far after
we published Northwestern on Thursday
. As for our
, we'll have Ohio and Ohio State, of course, along with
as well as
. We'll also be back with another post on our weekly blog,
Succeed in Football
; we'll have something of interest and assistance to anyone who studies the game and wants to make it not a hobby but a profession. We'll also have the reports we're known for, our
, though our schedule might be limited depending on how well we get caught up on our Agent Changes. As for our newsletters, we'll have Week 3 of the
ITL Newsletter on the NFL Draft Process
. After looking at combine prep this week, we'll focus more on the "meat" of the process, including how to gauge a player's interest to NFL teams, how the agent community is broken up (and which agencies are most likely to recruit the varying classes of prospects) and plenty of other hot topics (and remember, if you just gotta have more on these subjects,
this might be of interest
). And if your interests extend beyond football, or you want them to, we're still seeking candidates for the WWE's tryout camp in Orlando next monthand we've got
a pretty solid practice exam
for everyone taking the MLB agent exam later this month in New York City. If you want football, we got it.
Let us show you.