Ratliff Family On Working With Dave

Bill and Elijah Ratliff
Father Bill Ratliff with son Elijah Ratliff

What I Learned About The Football Recruiting Process Working With Dave Berk

By: Bill Ratliff

My son is Elijah Ratliff, a 2018 graduate of Reynoldsburg (Ohio) High School.

I want to take this time to thank a pivotal person in my sons recruiting, Dave Berk.

Dave played a major role in helping our family understand the truth about the recruiting process.

The recruiting process is different for every kid who has the desire to play at the college level. While everyone believes the process is full of fun and games, it’s exhausting, frustrating, and honestly, there is too much knowledge to take in at any one moment.

During our journey, we faced several obstacles with the biggest having been that Elijah had never been recruited before. All he had, was a desire to play college football at any level and the support of my wife and myself, along with a few coaches and the people that believed in him from our community.

Despite having already spent a lot of money on a platinum recruiting package from a “National Recruiting Service” when Elijah was in Junior High. We soon learned this would be the biggest mistake of our recruiting journey.

No Twitter, no knowledge, and not sure about how the process worked. It was pretty much us throwing mud at the wall concerning our son playing at the next level.

When we started the process, Elijah was all 5-foot-11, 220-pounds and playing middle linebacker. With a goal of playing varsity, Elijah was willing to do anything to see the field and was given the chance as a sophomore to play varsity as an offensive guard.

I realized then, my son was not going to become an offensive lineman at the college level.

Having received an invitation to compete in a big man camp in Detroit. We were excited to see Elijah get an opportunity to show his skills as a defensive end as he showed a great first step. While at that time he didn’t fit the stereotype of a future college player. He strapped on his helmet and took on the biggest and baddest dudes at the camp winning every rep.

Towards the end of the camp, coaches were looking for the top guys to advance to the finals. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like Elijah was going to be one of them despite his success that day.

Walking away with his head down, a man approached him and told him he might be undersized, but they were impressed with his grit and placed him in the finals. In the end, Elijah never lost a rep during the one-on-ones beating guys ranked as Four-Star prospects by the recruiting media. Little did I know this was about to change the recruiting process completely.

It was also at this time I met with Dave and we developed a great relationship with him. Dave had been a recruiting analyst with Scout.com but had opened his own consulting business specializing in football recruiting.

As I stated, we’d already paid big money for a big-name national service. We quickly learned they virtually did nothing for us in the recruiting world.

Dave was brutally honest about where we stood in Elijah’s recruiting process. 

Based on his evaluation, he stressed that Elijah would need to add weight while keeping his speed and quickness along with hoping he would add a few inches of height.

While unsure Elijah could add the weight needed, or even grow a few inches, he was determined and went to work. Soon, Elijah added 40-pounds and God blessed him with a couple of more inches. Elijah now stood at 260-pounds and just under 6-foot-2. It was not easy, but he did it.

Dave worked with us to find the proper Junior Days and summer camps to attend. After a successful junior season, Elijah started to receive offers earning 14 of them as a defensive tackle. If not for Dave’s straight forward approach, total honesty, and direction, we’re not sure Elijah would have been in the position to receive any offers.

In the summer prior to his senior year, we had a plan and worked that plan until we thought we found Elijah’s future home making a commitment to Marshall University in late June. We thought the process was over, however, Dave stressed recruiting doesn’t end until pen is put to paper on a National Letter of Intent. Dave stayed connected with us and we soon learned not everything said to you by college coaches can be taken to the bank when it comes to recruiting.

Having made an early commitment, we thanked all the schools that offered Elijah, and they went about their business building their class. While there were still some Power Five programs showing interest in Elijah, none came knocking with an offer.

During the college football season, we attended as many home games at Marshall and was feeling solid in Elijah’s future. However, in late November, we started feeling there could be some issues with Marshall and quickly turned back to Dave with many questions and concerns.

At first, we felt stuck with what was happening at Marshall. While I won’t go into details about what happened, trust me when I say we worried about the worst happening and our son on the outside looking in.

However, soon word got out Elijah might be looking to make a change and a few programs showed renewed interest. One of those programs was Kent State who just hired a new head coach in late December.

This is where we followed Dave’s advice on how to handle a possible change.

We scheduled a visit to Kent State and soon learned it was the perfect fit for Elijah. He loved the school as it was an even better educational fit. The coaches were ambitious and excited about our son’s future as well as the future of the program. Today, Elijah is starting his freshman year and is 6-foot-3, 290-pounds. While a late bloomer, his future is both exciting and promising.

In so many ways, Dave went above and beyond in what we paid him for. What we spent was nothing compared to what we should have paid. We owe Dave so much, he goes far above what’s required.

Without Dave, I’m not sure what the outcome would have been.

Thank you, Dave, for being so much more than a consultant.

Bill Ratliff On Working With Dave Berk