The recruiting process can quickly grow tiresome for blue-chip prospects.
Nonstop phone calls, text messages and letters filled with promises of what will happen if you attend a certain school can be fun at first, but the attention can be overwhelming if not handled the right way.
Shelby High linebacker Dax Hollifield received his first offer as a ninth-grader and has heard it all from college coaches for the past three years, but he believes he has an advantage over others in his position.
Hollifield’s dad, Aubrey Hollifield, played defensive tackle at Wake Forest and has been there for Dax throughout this journey.
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As a former recruit, Division I athlete and current assistant coach at Shelby, one of the top programs in North Carolina, Aubrey is mentoring Dax as the younger Hollifield prepares to make one of the most important decisions of his life.
“My dad, he’s the one that helps me out. He writes everything down and shows it all to me and tries to figure out where the best place is for me and lets me make my decision,” Dax recently told The State. “He knows all about it. He tells me what I should look for and how it’s going to be in college. He knows what to look for and when people are telling lies and stuff like that.”
Aubrey has been around the game long enough and dealt with so many college coaching staffs that he believes he has a firm grasp of what to look for on visits and in dealings with coaches.
Instead of focusing only on the positives at schools, Aubrey makes sure his son looks at the negative aspects as well.
“I know it’s not nearly as big time as what he’s getting recruited by, but I’ve been through it,” Aubrey said. “I try to say, ‘These are some things you need to look at,’ because everything’s not always shiny. There’s some things that are nice to have that you don’t always see.”
Aubrey shared some examples of what he has seen that he likes and doesn’t like on trips he has taken with Dax.
“When we went to Stanford, the school’s awesome, eating is not as good. Their dining facilities and stuff like that are not nearly as nice as the other places. We went to South Carolina and they have great living facilities, unbelievable,” Aubrey said. “Those are the things I try to point out. I try to point out the good things, and I try to point out the bad things. Everybody’s got good things and bad things about them. I don’t want him to get enamored with all the shiny stuff out there.”
Dax, who is rated as a four-star recruit and the No. 104 overall player in the country by the 247Sports Composite rankings, is down to a final five of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Stanford and Florida State. He is planning to take all of his official visits before making a decision.
Aubrey was against that route at first, but while he is helping Dax out during this process he is also learning himself.
“Originally I thought it would be a good idea for him to go ahead and get it over with so he could play his season, but he’s a pretty level-headed kid and he can handle going here and taking a visit during the season and still playing football. I don’t think it will affect him a bit,” Aubrey said. “I think he needs to take all of his official visits. He doesn’t need to drag it out until signing day, but he needs to get probably through the season anyway.”
Dax will be paying close attention to all of his finalists throughout the college football season. In addition to a strong education, Dax wants to go to a school where he can play early and to a place where he will have a chance to win big.
He is hoping South Carolina will show that it can offer both of those aspects this season.
“I want to see if they’re going to be good when I get there. All the teams that have been recruiting me have been doing pretty good except South Carolina, but I think Coach (Will) Muschamp, this is going to be their second year and they’re going to be doing a lot better,” Dax said. “Winning is a big part. I’d love to see them come in second this year in the SEC or first. I want to see them beat Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, something like that and show that they can win the SEC.”