College recruiting is big business these days. According to the U.S. Department of Education, colleges spent almost $250 million on recruiting last year with over $160 million spent on men’s sports alone. The college recruiting process, however, is seemingly uncharted territory for high school athletes and their families.
Former Baltimore Orioles prospect Jake Luce experienced this uncharted territory when he prepared for the jump from Allen High School (Allen, TX) to college in the summer of 2007. Since then, Luce has been in professional baseball and in 2014, started one of the fastest-growing high school athlete consulting firms in the country aptly named The Luce Prospect Group.
“I started LPG because I was tired of watching parents and players getting taken advantage of at the high school level,” Luce said. “I’ve seen too many talented athletes fall through the cracks simply because of improper guidance and a lack of exposure to college coaches. As a player, I was in the majority. I was one of those athletes that needed help.”
Luce went to Allen High School, one of the biggest high schools in the country, and won various honors throughout his career including being named First-Team All-District his junior and senior years. He hit over .400 his senior year, and that still wasn’t enough for him to become a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school.
“I was 5’10 and weighed 175 pounds as a senior,” Luce said. “There’s such a thing called ‘projectability’ when evaluating athletes. Needless to say, my ‘projectability’ was, and has never really been, that high. I knew I could play. I knew I could help someone win. But instead, I had to rely on negotiating with college coaches myself. That’s tough to do when you’re 18 years old.”
Luce accepted a full-ride scholarship to Blinn College just two weeks before the first day of the semester.
“It was a stressful time,” Luce admits. “But I’m glad God took me to and through that process. I really learned a lot.”
An Idea Becomes a Reality
Luce founded The Luce Prospect Group in early 2014 with the intent of bridging the gap between college coaches and top-notch baseball prospects. After serving as the Director of Baseball for the Dallas area for a different company in 2013, Luce started LPG.
In just over one year of business, LPG has a 100 percent success rate of helping their prospects earn athletic and academic scholarships. How much, you might ask? Well, with the recent commitment of Luce Prospect Kylen Granson (Austin, TX) to Rice University, the overall scholarship dollar amount has surpassed $1.5 million.
The company’s success rate is something that is attracting attention from parents, prospects, and college coaches around the country.
“We really don’t advertise because we’re confident our parents and prospects will do that for us,” Luce said. “Our mission statement has always been to take care of those that we do have rather than worry about those that we don’t have. Because we focus on doing business the right way, parents and prospects tend to find us on their own.”
A Parent’s Take
Parents like Jason Welch whose son Graham was part of the inaugural class of Luce Prospects in 2015. Graham is currently at the University of Texas at Tyler on an academic scholarship and is slated to start in the outfield in 2016.
“Jake works fast. I made contact with Jake around Thanksgiving before my son’s senior year and he outlined exactly how he was going to help us,” Welch said. “There was one college coach that we were having some dialogue with and, while we were in our initial meeting, Jake picked up the phone and called that particular coach. Before we knew it, my son had received a personal invite to a private workout the following weekend. After that, I knew we had made the right choice with Jake and the Luce Prospect Group.”
That specific school didn’t end up being the best fit for Graham, but Welch said that he had faith in the process because of what he had witnessed in that initial meeting.
“Out of the gate Jake went to work to establish contact with college coaches we all felt would be possible fits. He engaged the coaches and Graham from the get-go and we saw positive results immediately.”
Welch said that he and Graham had both used other online recruiting websites in the past thinking that they’d get the help they needed. But ultimately, the Welch’s realized that nothing was getting accomplished. However, with Luce’s help, Graham ended up on UT Tyler’s radar immediately.
“UT Tyler was one of the schools that we had targeted from the beginning,” Welch said. “We were signed up to go to a camp in San Antonio where we knew one of their coaches would be. Having Jake reach out to that particular coach put Graham on the radar screen for them and the rest is history. My son ended up with a full-ride scholarship a few weeks later; none of it would’ve been possible without Jake and the team at the Luce Prospect Group.”
Luce said it’s one of his favorite parts of the job.
“Receiving that phone call from a Prospect who just accepted a scholarship brings joy to my heart,” Luce said. “Knowing that I have the opportunity to change a kid’s life every day is something I’ll always hold on to.”
Laura Ross is another parent that joined LPG with her son, Blake. She admits to being skeptical because she had seen other recruiting programs fail to achieve desired results for other parents and players.
“To be honest, I was not a believer in LPG at first,” Ross said. “However, I did believe Jake would do what he said he would. And, of course, he exceeded my expectations.”If any parent is on the fence about joining the Luce Prospect Group, trust me, it’s worth the money. Jake and LPG have saved us so much time, money, and stress. There are so many boys in the United States who want to play baseball in college; it’s extremely competitive. Getting on-board with Jake was one of the best decisions we ever made for our son.”
Her son Blake is also committed to UT Tyler on a scholarship and will be joining the team this fall. Even though Blake has already signed, Ross says Luce is still in contact on a regular basis.
“Jake stays in touch with all of the kids and their coaches even after they’ve signed,” Ross said. “And even if they’re in college, he calls them to make sure everything is going well. Jake’s just there for us. It’s truly a great feeling. He pushed for my son, and I know he’ll push for yours too.”
As for Luce, he said that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s not about the money for me,” Luce said. “Sure, everyone loves money, but our vision at LPG is to conduct business amicably and professionally at all times. If we do those things, the money will be there as a result of us treating people the right way.”
And by treating people the right way, Luce said families can focus on more important things like just being mom and dad.
“That’s why parents like Laura and Jason will vouch for us. Laura can just watch Blake play and just be a mom. Blake can enjoy his senior year and not have to worry about anything else. Jason gets to watch Graham grow and develop as a collegiate athlete and young man,” Luce said. “We’re successful not because of where I’ve been or where any of our staff has been. We’re successful simply because we keep our parents and prospects first.”