While the college football recruitment process is between the student-athlete and the college coaches, no one knows more about how both sides work than a high school coach.
To gain some insight into the secret world of recruiting, the Star-Telegram surveyed Metroplex high school coaches on their experiences with the recruiting process.
We asked a dozen high school coaches which programs were the easiest and hardest to work with and how programs succeeded or failed.
According to the coaches polled, Texas A&M recruiting coordinator David Beaty is far and away considered the best recruiter in the Metroplex and Texas — followed closely by TCU — is the best program to work with.
The coaches said Texas A&M is the most popular school among their players right now, followed by Baylor. However, TCU received the most recognition for having a pipeline set up at Metroplex schools.
Ultimately, coaches are there to advise their players on a decision that will affect at least the next four years of their life. Because of that, the overwhelming advice coaches say they give their players is to choose a school for everything besides football because coaches come and go and programs change.
Here is what the high school coaches had to say about the college programs they deal with:
1. Which coach or program have you had the best experience with?
3. Baylor, UTEP, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Texas Tech, Iowa, Rice, SMU, Midwestern, Oklahoma, Louisiana-Monroe
2. What made working with them so enjoyable?
• “Great, genuine guys.” (TCU, Texas A&M)
• “These guys were very personable and real ... no standard sell pitches. (Texas, Oklahoma State, Stanford)
• “Ease of communication and responds to emails, text messages and calls.” (UTEP, Baylor)
• “I enjoy recruiters who are personable to our kids and coaches, and who don’t always seem to be in a hurry.” (Texas Tech, Iowa, Rice, SMU)
• “They all understood how hard Texas football players work and are coached.” (Midwestern State, Louisiana-Monroe, Oklahoma)
• “They were interested not just in our players, but our program and me personally.” (Texas, TCU)
• “Coach [Mack] Brown and his staff always put the player, his family and their high school experience ahead of the recruiting process.” (Texas)
3. What coaches/programs have been the most difficult to deal with?
1. North Texas
2. SMU, Kansas
3. Kentucky, Baylor, TCU, Texas A&M, Houston (Kevin Sumlin)
4. Why were they so difficult? Any horror stories?
• “Not so much difficult to deal with as it is difficult to communicate with them and hear back from them. I feel that they are in the middle of the most talented football area in the country and should have great relationships with every single high school in DFW, but it does not seem like they do. I do not know where they focus their energy recruiting, but I think more of it should be focused right in their own back yard.” (SMU, North Texas)
• “Baylor dropped one of my players in 2012 for no reason. It was in midseason, and the kid had missed out on several other opportunities at schools who had already filled up. None of their coaches bothered to contact the kid or the parents to let them know. I had to break the news to them. Coach Briles never even bothered to contact me. I had to hear it from our recruiter. The kid wound up going to Rice, but the incident made for some strained relationships between college, kid, family and myself.”
• “Didn’t honor scholarship offers, after our kids didn’t pursue any other schools.” (Kansas, Kentucky)
• “I don’t care for their recruiting tactics and lack of commitment on offers.” (Baylor)
• “One phrase from a mom comes to mind: ‘used car salesmen.’ ” (Kansas)
• “Could do a better job considering that they are so close. But, If we have a player that can play on their level, they usually know about them.” (SMU, North Texas)
• “Very arrogant and when they do stop by it is very fast and act like they don’t really care.” (Texas A&M)
5. Have you witnessed any interesting, different or shady recruiting tactics by coaches or programs? If so, who and what was it (i.e. – “running into” players who are underclassmen while making school visits)?
• “The biggest problems are the schools who make promises to kids about playing time, not redshirting, position assignment, etc. These are often promises they have no intention of honoring once the kid gets to their campus.”
• “The money offers and offers of a free education to his little brother. [Another school] did the same.”
• “One of our school board members caught a coach conducting a one-on-one workout and videotaping the workout in our indoor facility one night.”
6. What is the most difficult aspect of your player’s recruitment as a head coach?
• “Time is the enemy for all of us regardless of profession. The keys to successful management of recruiting, in my opinion, are 1. Have a plan. 2. Be highly organized. 3. Attack it the same way you do as a weekly game plan.”
• “The hard reality that it is difficult to play on the college level. Players don’t realize that even on the D2 level, most all of those players were the best from their high school. Most players feel like they are the exception to the rule. But most players won’t even get looked at if they don’t meet certain size and speed requirements. Many times they don’t recruit the best players, they recruit on who they feel has the most potential to be successful in college.”
• “Schools offer too early and make kids decide on their future when they are not mature enough.”
• “To convince them to be patient. They read about other players receiving an offer early, and they feel that it should be them. I try to let them know to keep working and their time will come.”
• “Playing middleman between player and recruiter. Also explaining to parents why their son isn’t getting offers.”
• “Some players don’t fit the physical parameters set by some schools, but are very good football players.”
• “When you know a player is good enough — past experience or compared to others that were recruited — and you cannot find a school for them.”
• “Disappointment in kids when they don’t get recruited by a certain school.”
• “Other schools trying to get them to flip on a commitment.”
• “Convincing them to offer a kid who doesn’t have an offer. There are a lot good recruiters in college football but very few good evaluators.”
7. How frequently are you in contact with college coaching staffs?
8. What is the most interesting story you have regarding the recruitment of one of your players?
• “The most interesting day is the night before Signing Day. It becomes a last-minute scramble for recruiters, so I work the phone lines until late that night. We’ve had three last-minute offers that changed kids lives for the better. 2. Ice storm a few years ago — I drove all over town slipping and sliding picking kids up to fax their letters of intent. It reminded me of growing up in New York.”
• “[The player] was undersized and not on anyone’s ‘Top 100’ list. Very few offers from mid-majors. One day OU shows up, offers, and by the end of spring ball, [the player] was on everyone’s list, had offers coast-to-coast. He was no better player than earlier in the spring, but the OU offer catapulted him into the recruiting stratosphere.”
• “A coach came to watch one player, and although he did not end up recruiting that player, another player caught his eye.”
• “One player was told there was a 95 percent chance that he would be offered a scholarship the following week. He was very excited until he became the other 5 percent.”
• “[A player] turned down offers by New Mexico, Utah State, University of Houston and Baylor to walk-on at TCU, and excelled.”
9. Is there a particular program you feel is the “in” program right now to your players?
1. Texas A&M
3. Oregon, TCU, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Texas
10. Have you witnessed or experienced any recruiting violations from major programs?
• “Almost everyone shakes hands with underclassmen recruits, but that’s about all I’ve witnessed.”
11. Is your program a “pipeline” to any particular school?
2. Oregon, North Texas, Oklahoma State, Rice
12. Do you ever visit college campuses with players? If so, who puts on the best visit? Who was the worst?
Best: 1. TCU, 2. Texas, Baylor
Worst: Texas because of access; Baylor was very secretive toward offensive players.
13. Do you ever go to camps with your players? If so, who puts on the best camp? Who was the worst?
• “Camps are the same everywhere with major recruits ... a two-hour tryout session for the head coach to see.”
• “Schools that do day camps in different cities seem to have success. This gives kids an opportunity to be around the coaches without having the headache of travel plans and expenses.”
2. Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma State, UTEP
14. What is the most important piece of advice you give your players as they go through the recruitment process?
• “Be proactive. Players can contact coaches and send out films. It doesn’t have to be a high school coach doing it. Communicate with high school coaches about what they want and who they want you to contact.”
• “Take SAT and ACT early.”
• “Make the best grades possible; the higher the grades the more opportunities they will have.”
• “If you have multiple offers, take football out of the equation and pick the school you would like to attend as a student because your football career can be over in one play. I don’t want them to attend a school because of a coach or just their football program.”
• “Follow your heart.”
• “Find a school you want to attend for five years — not coaches — they come and go.”
• “Don’t get caught up with your ranking on the recruiting websites. Improve on your game and go to the college camps.”
• “Enjoy it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
• “Keep an open mind and leave your options open. Don’t believe everything you hear.”
• “Make sure you can live, study and play there for five years — there is no going back.”
• “Try to enjoy it. They feel a lot of pressure. I tell them it’s better to have some pressure than not have anyone looking at them.”
• “Go somewhere that, if you didn’t have football, you could be a student and be happy.”
• “Be level-headed and listen and ask a lot of questions.”
15. Who do you think is the best college recruiter out there today?
1. David Beaty (Texas A&M)
2. Bobby Kennedy (Iowa)
3. John Shoop (Purdue), Luke Wells (Utah State), Dave Steckel (Missouri), Bruce Chambers (Texas), Doug Meacham (TCU, formerly Oklahoma State), Chad Morris (Clemson)
16. Which program do you believe needs to step up its recruiting game the most?
3. UNT, Texas Tech