With the emergence of mega-tournaments that can feature hundreds of teams and thousands of players, one of the most challenging aspects of navigating today’s recruiting world is quickly identifying standout recruits. While most of the top talent is known and spoken for in terms of their collegiate commitment, it’s common that the general majority of college scouts wind up recruiting many of their players based on the first impressions they make during a game. Searching profiles for whether a player is committed on Twitter or Perfect Game and flipping through rosters while holding a radar gun and taking game notes can be challenging, after all.
Enter Wayne Woolsey, Founder and CEO of QR Recruiter, a company that has developed the concept of using a 3’ x 2’ banner with a large QR code linked to an electronic, updatable roster. Anyone with a smartphone can scan any team’s QR Roster code from long distances, in person or even during a livestream event. This gives immediate access to player profiles without fumbling through pages of rosters or running names through search engines. Player profiles on QR Recruiter can feature physical attributes, personal notes, video links, and much more.
Inside Pitch: What were your initial observations about the college baseball recruiting landscape?
Wayne Woolsey: We began going to showcases and college camps several years ago with our sons. While at the showcase events, I realized that no one knew who kids were. Every kid on the field paid money to play – to be on the field. There were a few scouts with a handful of papers, clipboards, radar guns and stopwatches. Kids were doing amazing things. One young man hit two bombs with a wood bat in one game, and not one person said a word.
The other issue was, when we would ask the organization why we are going to specific showcases, they said they were the best. As a parent, how do we know which showcases are the best and what defines best? I knew there had to be a way to find out if a showcase was worth going to and not be influenced by propaganda. Every baseball showcase and camp we experienced seemed to be the same. We also noticed that recruiters from smaller schools – primarily junior colleges, were never represented at these camps or showcases. Sadly, many of the kids could play at a junior college level. It appeared that the same guys were looking at these athletes, which limited the visibility student athletes can get.
IP: And your observations were the same when it came to camps?
WW: Even at the DI level, my boys’ sport-specific measurements were recorded incorrectly. One place actually copied everything backwards on their form and distributed those numbers. It just felt like we were part of their booster club and not actually accomplishing anything. It hurt my boys between the ears as much as anything, and after visiting with other players and their parents, they felt remarkably similar. I knew there had to be a more streamlined way to take measurements, analyze the data, keep historical data and simultaneously allow coaches to see more information about athletes during and even after the event.
IP: What are some other ways QR Recruiter will streamline the evaluation/recruiting process?
WW: Anyone can go to qrrecruiter.com, enter an athlete’s name and graduation year or dive in deeper with an “Advanced Search” for a combination of academic and/or sport specific measurements (i.e., graduation year, GPA, ACT/SAT score, 60-yard, arm velo (IF/OF), exit velo, pitchers details and catcher pop time). Once you type in your specific details, all athletes who are equal to or superior will appear so their Player Profile can be reviewed. Another feature is student athletes and their parents can see where they compare to their graduation class using “Where do I Rank?” Analytics of scans are also tracked for historical data. The Players Profile may be hyperlinked to any Team QR Roster Banner for maximum exposure.
IP: How did you become familiar with QR codes in general, and what was the “light bulb” moment when you made the connection with QR tech and baseball recruiting?
WW: I used QR codes (Quick Response) with some patents I developed many years ago, so I naturally had a good working knowledge of the technology. Initially, I was trying to figure out an inexpensive way to identify each player on the field and make it easier on the recruiters/scouts watching the games to find players. But then the idea continued to evolve.
Ultimately, I wanted something that would allow recruiters to learn more about athletes – including the ones they were not originally there to scout. Affordability was also critical to me; I wanted recruiters to access this data for free and I did not want money to be a barrier to entry for an athlete. The QR Roster banner has five advertising spots that teams/organizations may find parents or local businesses to sponsor. We charge $100 for each spot, but organizations can seek more funding per spot to help their teams raise more money. We also have a scholarship program for players and teams who need it the most.
As the idea grew, so did the opportunity to utilize more tech-based avenues to drive recruitment, not only for high school students, but also for athletes playing at junior colleges who are looking to move up to the next level. That step from junior college to a four-year college can be a tough one for student athletes.
I called a good friend who is a software developer and told him about my idea, and that Norm DeBriyn, former head coach at the University of Arkansas, wanted to see it so he could tell me if it was a good idea or not. We developed the software over a 30-day period, so Norm could scan with his phone and an athlete would appear with all of the information needed for a scout. I showed it to Norm, he said, “Wow, Wayne, I think you have something here,” even though he had no idea what a QR code was at the time! That is when the QR Recruiter journey began.
QR Recruiter ‘Draft-Tag’ jersey patches are $35 and come with 12 months of activation and an online player profile. Teams can also utilize a QR Roster Banner, which can be scanned to access the entirety of a team’s roster, thus eliminating the need for individual Draft-Tags.
QR Camp is another offering where stick-on patches create player profiles where measurements and notes can be recorded and a paperless evaluation can be sent to campers and reviewed by coaching staffs after each event.
For more information, visit qrrecruiter.com.