Photo Credit: Life University Athletics
During a coaches’ panel a couple of years ago, I proposed this question to the esteemed group, and they all had the same answer: specialization in one position in the high school years will NOT increase your value as a recruit. As most pointed out, the position you play in high school often will not be the position you play in college. In high school games, the most talented and athletic players often tend to be placed in positions where they have the most touches on the ball (e.g., 8-man, scrumhalf, flyhalf). These players must be flexible, coachable, and able to move to a variety of positions (e.g., moving a High School flyhalf to wing or fullback). One of the coaches shared that the more coachable you can slot in anywhere on the field, your value increases exponentially. The coach pointed out that they were hit with some unfortunate injuries in a recent national playoff match. A new player who had spent most of their time in the backs was asked to step up as a flanker. Without hesitation, this player went into the game and was a critical reason they won that match. That type of player is the kind every coach said they wanted.
I recommend that if you are currently spending most of your time only training in one position to talk to your club or high school coach about trying out other positions. A good time to approach your coach is after practice and simply ask, “Do you think if we have a game where we are up by a lot, I could try Flanker? I would love to learn more about other positions on the field.” Most recruit questionnaires ask prospects for your primary position and alternate positions. You are a much more valuable recruit if you can say Primary: Flanker, Alternate: Hooker, Flyhalf and Inside Center.
Especially for teams that value both 15’s and 7s skilled players, being able to simply be athletic and take coaching are the top skills they are all looking for.