Andy Hilton (L) and Clash of the Titans Overall MVP Tevin White (Photo: Antowyne Shaw/recruit757)
This hiatus could be temporary or permanent. We’ll see where the road takes us.
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Now that the 2021 season is done, I’m sharing news that’s been in the works for months. Challenges have mounted since March 2020. The impact of COVID has hit a lot of businesses that we love and recruit757 is one of them.
I am putting recruit757, recruit804, recruitNoVA, and ultimaterecruit.com on hiatus.
2020 was a huge disruption in the way we do business, and I’ve always operated as lean and mean as possible so that we could squeeze as much benefit as we could out of it. I have pledged to always offer value to the athletes, parents, coaches, sponsors, and fans, and I think we’ve done that over the past 11+ years. The business has been fueled financially by sponsorships, college scouting service revenue, and camp events. No parent or athlete has paid a dime unless it was to participate in something that we had a hard cost for.
College scouting service decisions are typically made in the spring with contracts running July through June. In 2020, college scouting service contracts were cut by schools looking to trim expenses and by schools that had no fall football season. It’s tough for college athletics right now. There was always a percentage of schools who reaped the benefit of the free information we publish rather than spending a little money for a service contract. We’ve had a great group of college clients, but it should have been bigger.
Advertising sponsorships were cut to zero for a number of months and still haven’t rebounded anything like what was there before.
Many of our sponsor partners had to close temporarily last March and some still haven’t recovered. Onelife Fitness has been fantastic. Buffalo Wild Wings has been a long-time sponsor, but still can’t fill their restaurants due to COVID restrictions. The revenue isn’t there yet for them. Some seasonal businesses like the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater/Live Nation still haven’t come back. A lot of businesses have had to change the way they operate and marketing dollars have taken a hit.
Our football camps, another source of revenue, were shut down until August of last year. We thank God that we were able to do the three camps that we did in late 2020. That has “kept the lights on” for months. Division I football camps start back up in June, and I’ve always pledged that we would not compete with that. College football one-day camps are the most direct way to receive college interest and offers. No independent company should interfere with that.
The virtual-only school year and the postponement of high school sports hurt recruit757 as well. We’ve been able to support the football community with coverage of the spring season, but the revenue to cover operating expenses isn’t there. The interest from the general public also hasn’t been there. A spring football season doesn’t generate the excitement that a fall season does, especially when fans can’t attend the games.
Doing the work of recruit757 is a labor of love, so it’s painful to complain about money and revenue.
The members of the recruit757 team either work on a contract basis or volunteer their time. They truly understand the mission of recruit757. Without the help and support of a lot of others, recruit757 wouldn’t have gotten where it is. Joe Barnes, Byron Jones, Jim McGrath, Antowyne Shaw, Lance Hinton, Danny Haymond, Thomas Matzke, Marc Goldstein, Sheridan King, Sarah Murphy, David Porter, and others from years past including Jay Parchman, James Benn, Brandon Mitchell, John Harvey, Mary Ann Magnant, Brian Knight, Sam Mizelle, Keith Chisolm, Chris Hopkins, Jon Fritz, and others I may have forgotten here (forgive me), have helped immensely over the years.
It is not viable to keep recruit757 running under the current circumstances. This is a full-time job and I do it 52 weeks a year. When the full-time job brings in less than half of what it used to, something has to change. The mortgage, the electric bill, and the other expenses don’t stop coming.
For over 11 years, recruit757 has been the work I have chosen to do. It has fed my heart and soul, and it has given me the opportunity to see thousands of young people go on to become prosperous adults. It’s always been about showing young people that they can choose a bright future. Giving back feels good. I hope that spirit continues with the athletes of Virginia as they become adults. Our community needs people to give back and help young people to see all of the great things that lay ahead of them if they choose a good path.
I am going to move on full-time with my work in marketing consulting. I managed the sales efforts of several local television stations before creating recruit757, and I’ve run my own marketing consulting business for 11 years as a compliment to advising and advocating for young athletes.
The website and social media will continue to run for a while at least. There may be a transition to a different concept. We’re not going to instantly go dark.
Thank you again to everyone for your support. We have worked with a lot of wonderful people. My circle of friends has grown immensely over the past 11 years. I treasure those relationships. I created my own dream job, and it’s been a fantastic ride. If there’s an opportunity to have the recruit757 brand continue to work for the community, I’ll pursue it.
– Andy Hilton