by Lexi Matthews ‘18
Fast Company magazine named it the Most Innovative Company in 2016. Fifteen thousand paying customers utilize it each day, including athletes from teams like the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Indiana Pacers, and U.S. Soccer. Junior defensive lineman Everett Stubblefield has it listed first in his Instagram bio.
Launched in 2006 out of Lincoln, Nebraska, Hudl got its start as a stat recorder for college and professional football teams. After tweaking its layout to include video review features that allow coaches and players to edit and upload their own game footage in 2008, the site soared in popularity amongst youth and amateur football, basketball, and lacrosse teams as well; 85 percent of all high school and college football teams now utilize the site, reports the New York Post.
“Coach Grier sets up a Hudl for each player at the beginning of the season, then it’s yours to do what you want,” explained Stubblefield. From there, tripod or handheld footage of the games is uploaded by coaches to their own accounts, often with detailed notes and annotations on specific plays. Mondays during the football and basketball season are designated as ‘film days;’ These days are when the team reviews game footage to praise successful actions, as well as search out places where there could be room for improvement. Videos are also exchanged with the team’s upcoming opponent in order to start devising strategy for the next game.
More than this traditional intention, players have taken advantage of the service as a means to create their own athletic ‘résumés.’ On each athlete’s profile page, spaces are provided for the building of a personal brag sheet. Here, one’s weight, height, position, 40-yard time, lifting abilities, awards, and records can be entered in if a player so chooses. By showcasing these statistics, coupled with the creation of an exceptional highlight reel, athletes hope to provide potential college scouts with easy access to important information on their abilities.
“I try to make a new highlight reel for every single game,” said junior quarterback Michael Mbony, whose Hudl page has racked up over 4,000 views. Mbony, as well as dozens of his fellow teammates, comb through raw game tapes for plays featuring themselves, which they then trim and edit into its own clip. Many clips can be compiled into a single video, thus creating the highlight ‘reel.’ These reels can then be embellished with music, text, photos, and transitions to give it a flashier feel, although many opt to keep the videos relatively simple. Mbony likes to pick clips that feature his wide array of talents: impressive rushes, long passes, and smart movements under high pressure.
While Coach Grier likes to stress that a good tape can either make or break a player’s chance of being recruited to a school, players have expressed that they usually do not feel too pressured to attempt especially spectacular or flashy plays to garner scout attention. “I don’t make plays for my highlights, I make them for myself. The highlight is just a bonus,” said Mbony.
As for Stubblefield, Hudl serves as a social connector more than anything. “It lets everyone I care about see my success. That’s pretty cool,” said Stubblefield.