Saturday, April 17, 2021

Tom Lemming, recruiter of college-bound athletes


Chicago native Tom Lemming has taken the recruiting of high school athletes to a new level, says WLS-TV (ABC affiliate in Chicago), and every year, he releases the Prep Football Report, considered “The Bible” of college football recruiting in America.

The book, available in limited supply from Mr Lemming’s website, profiles more than 1,200 of the top high school football athletes. It’s said to be very popular among college and high school coaches, athletes, and fans.

Writing about prep sports for USA Today and ESPN, Mr Lemming has made quite a name for himself among college coaches. He currently moderates “The Lemming Report” on CBS Sports Network and was recognized by Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, as the “only national football scout in America.”

WLS-TV was covering the announcement of his organization’s all-area team, where University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke said, “Being a guy who kind of grew up with Tom Lemming and watching him, with his passion for kids and the great game of football, and how that’s expanded and how he just keeps going further and further, I think it’s really something special that he’s done for a lot of kids throughout the country.”

His NCSA also promotes good grades by college athletes. “College is not easy, even for students who are able to devote the bulk of their time to classes and studying,” wrote one blogger on NCSA’s site. “For a student who is also spending a great deal of time playing sports, good study habits and a committed work ethic are non-negotiable. Work hard play-hard mentality!”

On national coverage of high school sports

Most coverage of high school sports is extremely local. Stories in newspapers don’t get read outside a very limited coverage beat.

But what is needed is good stories from around the country or even around the state, as we do with our Illinois football coverage. It is most unfortunate that the Illinois High School Association, which regulates coverage of its state series, doesn’t really accommodate national or statewide coverage. Upon registering, it’s necessary to declare which schools you’ll be interested in covering.

I have, for the last 10 years, wanted to declare “entire state,” but that’s not an option by this governing organization for media.

Yet that’s what’s needed in high school sports coverage. There are great athletes everywhere in the state, perhaps more so in other states than Illinois, but when the IHSA discourages exploration of these stories by the media, kids in areas with papers of more limited circulation have a tougher time promoting themselves to colleges.

That’s where Mr Lemming’s organization can fill in the gaps—and has been doing it for several decades. It was reported he used to sleep in his car because he couldn’t afford a hotel room near a school with a top college recruit. Been there.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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