• Rand Holdren

How to: Highlight Films for ALL positions. By UCLA Football Recruiting Analyst - Branden Jones

Updated: Oct 1

This is the first post of a three part series by UCLA Football Recruiting Analyst Branden Jones. As a coach who watches and evaluates film on a daily basis, he lends his knowledge to help aspiring college football players with their film.

How to for Highlight Films

Don’t talk about it, be about it! As a high school student-athlete with aspirations of playing college ball, your academic and athletic achievements are all compiled as a résumé of sorts. All the stats, awards, praise from coaches, and articles from recruiting services are great, but at the end of the day, your highlight film is the feature of the athletics portion of your résumé. Keep in mind that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other prospects at your position sending their film to the same coaches that you are. With this much film to sift through, priority number one is making sure the coach isn’t deterred by the presentation of your film. The following standards are applicable for all positions:

Opening Slides

· Keep slides to a minimum before the highlights

· Make sure your name, year, position, height, weight, and Twitter handle are in the first slide

· Since the film is available for anyone to view, it is your call to put your cell number in there

· Second slide can contain stats and academic information

· Don’t use music littered with explicit language

Spot Shadowing

· BEFORE the play begins

· Want to see movement skills from start to finish

· Make sure it is clear who the marker is pointing at

· Note for QB – no need to spot shadow as we know where you are

Film Selection

· Best plays first as coaches may not watch entire video

· Best plays > big moments in a game (scoop and score to win the game is great, but it may not best highlight your skills)

· Balance showing off multiple skill sets in the first couple clips with best plays

While quality over quantity is important, you can ideally put a variety of plays in the beginning that are of high quality. Watching quarterback throw 15 go routes in a row to open a highlight film gets real old, real fast. A running back running untouched without having to cut or work for it eight straight times is great, but what else can you bring the table? We get it, you are fast and there is great blocking for you, but there is more to your position that colleges are looking for. Let’s look at each position and what skill sets should be on display.


· Variety, early and often

· Velocity throws (outs, slants, digs)

· Arm strength throws (posts and go’s)

· Touch throws (corners, fades, screens)

· Out of pocket throws

· Movement in pocket

· Scrambling/running in the open field

Running Backs

· Homerun balls to see flat out speed

· Receptions to show off ball skills

· Runs that highlight cutting ability and physicality

· Pass protection or blocking in space

· Dynamic special teams plays

Wide Receivers

· Deep balls to highlight ball skills and speed

· Short routes to show off RAC (run after catch) ability

· 50/50 balls

· Blocking

· Dynamic special teams plays

Tight Ends

· Inline (hand in the ground) blocking

· Inline route running

· Flexed out blocking to show movement in space

· Flexed out route running

· Dynamic special teams plays

Offensive Line

· Mix best run, pass, and blocks in space

· For the run game, show a variety of base blocks, climbing to the second level, and pulling

· For pass pro, highlight your success against different techniques

· For blocks in space, use clips of you downfield on a screen or similar play

Defensive Line

· Unblocked sacks/TFL’s are nice, but let’s see you make plays being blocked as well

· Show success defeating run blocks/splitting double teams to make plays

· Show off multiple pass rush moves

· High motor/hustle plays where you chase the ball

Outside Linebacker

· Mix of pass rush and coverage clips

· Show pass rush, both lined up on the line of scrimmage or blitzing from depth

· Show zone drop to show ability to re-direct and run in space

· Show man coverage on tight ends, slot receivers, and/or running backs

· High motor/hustle plays where you chase the ball

· Dynamic special teams plays

Inside Linebacker

· Strength in the box defeating blocks and finishing tackles

· Change of direction and short area quickness

· Show zone drop to show ability to re-direct and run in space

· Show man coverage on tight ends, slot receivers, and/or running backs

· High motor/hustle plays where you chase the ball

· Dynamic special teams plays

Defensive Backs

· Interceptions are nice, but eight picks on bad balls isn’t all you have to offer

· Off man with backpedal and different transitions (turn and run, break on out routes, squeeze inside routes)

· Press man

· Zone techniques

· Physicality

· High motor/hustle plays where you chase the ball

· Dynamic special teams plays


· Variety is key as ten touchbacks or extra points in a row is overkill

· Leg strength on kickoffs

· Field goals that highlight range first and ball get up as well

· Punts for distance, hang time, and positional punts to pin deep

· Tackles to show physicality

· Any fakes to show athleticism

While these are desired clips colleges are looking for, don’t chunk 10 of each with a cover slide, making a coach either watch the whole thing or scan to see all of these. If they are good enough clips, blend them in and paint a full picture of you as a football player. Aside from QB, OL, and DL, you will notice the “dynamic special teams plays” on all the descriptions; your versatility could separate you from another prospect because you can contribute on special teams as well. For the defensive positions, one trait that is desired across the board is playing hard. While that seems elementary, consistently playing hard/willing to hustle on every play goes a long way.

COVID Edition

While your season may have been pushed to spring, you have certainly been working at your craft and improved since last fall. Put it on film! If it’s on your Hudl/Twitter, colleges can see it! Try to compile a Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 skill set highlights to showcase the variety that has been mentioned above.

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