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Like College Football, the Recruiting Game Has Sped Up and Changed the Game
By Patrick Murphy

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has made his feelings very clear. When recruiting a high school player, Meyer wants to get him on campus and see him play before offering him a scholarship. Unfortunately, today’s college football doesn’t always allow things to be done that way.

“The recruiting process has sped up dramatically,” former Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton said on Signing Day. “Social media has helped that. There are many different way, more ways, to get a hold of kids, communicate with kids and parents and things of that sort.”

This makes it easier for any school to begin a relationship with a high school prospect, but it means that college football programs are reaching out earlier and earlier in order to begin that process.

Stan Drayton was an important recruiter for Ohio State for four years
Photo by Dan Harker

“Relationships are being built up a lot sooner; in their sophomore years, their junior years,” Drayton continued.

“So the process is speeding up. We have really got to evaluate our execution during this process to make sure that we're current.”

This makes it more difficult on coaches than ever before because they are not just working to bring in this year’s class, but are evaluating and recruiting classes for years down the line in order to keep them interested in the program.

“How do you get them to stick with you during that process? Just consistency, constantly checking up on them,” Drayton explained.

While this process helps to bring in those that mature early, what about the late bloomers? There are plenty of examples of players who don’t get recruited initially in their high school careers, but grow into their bodies by their senior year and have the potential to play major college football.

Drayton believes that keeping a lookout for these players is important when recruiting in Ohio.

The history of Ohio is there are a lot of great athletes that develop late, for whatever reason,” Drayton said. “We don't have spring football, they're playing other sports. The 6-5, 185-pound kid starts eating and becomes 240 pounds. Those are the kind of developmental things that happen late in this state as opposed to a Texas or a Florida where they're constantly lifting weights… or there's a spring ball where you can actually evaluate this young man in pads and in contact, the whole deal.

“In Ohio you don't have those luxuries so it's a matter of staying with a kid in his sophomore year, getting him to camp is very critical, very important, and watching him develop through all these other sports. You have to do a great job of projecting.”

Another issue with today’s recruiting process is the lack of commitment in a commitment. Many talented, young high school players are pressured into selecting a school early in their high school careers due to how early they are being recruited, but as they progress through school, their minds can change.

“That's recruiting in this day and age, unfortunately,”

Chris Ash says you have to keep an eye out for late-developing high school seniors
Photo by Dan Harker

co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash said in regards to players flipping on their commitment. “I was actually talking to someone about that and he says, 'Well that's what you guys signed up for.' Well, no 10 years ago that's not what happened but that's the nature of it. Recruiting is not over until they sign the paper.”

It is not like the old days when a player committed and the coach could take his word as gold. As easy as it is to reach out to those players, other schools will continue the recruitment.

“A lot of uncertainty,” defensive backs coach and special team coordinator Kerry Coombs said of a verbal commitment. “And when commitment meant commitment and it was over and you had six months, and that’s the easiest thing for a kid is to make that commitment, know that he’s good with it, and just go on and enjoy his season and those kinds of things.”

The speed of recruitment has completely changed the way modern-day recruiting works. No longer do coaches look for the best juniors and seniors in the country and can’t take them for their word once they commit. Instead, it is a constant process that starts sometimes as early as eighth grade and doesn’t end until the paper is signed.

Times have changed. This certainly ain’t your daddy’s recruiting any more.

Player profiles relevant to story:
Coach - Ash, Chris | Coach - Coombs, Kerry | Coach - Drayton, Stan
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