Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Recruiting Dynamos and Other Brief Notes

As a precursor, I realize that the college football game, from the perspective of a coach, is a three headed beast. Recruiting, coaching, alumni relations. Two of the three are sales jobs, fill the larders with golden talent and fill the coffers with gold talents.

I have always tried to avoid being a recruitnik. I've got plenty of buddies who subscribe to recruiting service after recruiting service, who think that Scout and Rivals are for amateurs. Guys whose video collections of teenagers in tight pants would merit jail time in any other context.

Instead, I've tried to let the coaches do their jobs, wait until the class is signed, then look at the videos of who we've gotten, not who got away. Intellectually, I realize putting your evening's mood into the hands a jorts wearing,over-sized group of pimply faced 17 and 18 year olds, each living in his own personalized version of the Ptolemaic solar system is risky. And of course, let's face it, is there anything more meaningless than an "oral commitment?" As scUM is finding out....chortle, smirk!

Which led me to think. If it's frustrating to me, what if your very livelihood depended on it?

It's one thing to be a head coach---it's fair to say there's a soft landing if the efforts are unsuccessful and your gig goes the way of the Dodo.

But what of the assistant coaches....these are the unsung heroes, the trench warriors of the guerrilla recruiting conflicts.

So, I cheated and looked at the commitments to see who's bringing in the bacon.

Two names stand out. Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong.

Strong is credited with recruiting a slew of 4-stars including Ricky Barnum-OL, Jeremy Brown-DB, Ramon Buchanan-DB/OLB, Lerentee McCray-MLB, T.J. Pridemore-MLB.

I know it's been noted elsewhere, but nice move offering Omar Hunter's teammate T.J. Pridemore a scholarship. As a solid 3-star who might well pan out on his own, it certainly increased our access to Omar Hunter and will pacify his college transition. Kind of like adding a llama to a sheep herd. And I think we may need Pridemore's influence over the next couple of weeks. One of my buddies made some observations about Hunter that caused me to reach for the DiGel but showed the shrewdness of the Pridemore offer. I've watched Hunter's videos....amazing, he runs down QB's covers the field sideline-to-sideline and is clearly as fast as the advertised 4.7. But, as was pointed out, he previously committed to Notre Dame, then reversed because ND was too far from home. A few weeks later, after he adds USC to his list of finalists he refuses to answer media questions about the prior "too far from home comment." Then I'm told he was quoted today as saying Georgia revoked his scholarship offer (I find that difficult to swallow....many a school has been known to renege on a lower quality recruit for a 5-star, much less a 5-star among 5-stars). This is especially dubious as Hunter was slated to visit there this weekend (I'm sure they didn't cancel the recruiting weekend).

Which transitions this discussion, briefly, to Mattison. Mattison is credited for recruiting Hunter, Caleb Sturgis, Chaz Sutton, Bryan Jones and Adrian Bushnell. A 5-star and a pair of 4-stars ain't bad.

These guys are certainly earning their keep.

Finally, you've got to respect the cool hand of Urban "I'm a terrible opener but a great closer" Meyer in the recruiting process. His penchant for withholding scholarship offers until deep into the recruiting season to garner the best talent takes guts. For the second year in a row, the horse is responding to the crop down the home stretch. And you've got to love the penchant for hustling the early recruits we do get into school by January. I understand we've got 8 enrolled as we speak, including Janoris Jenkins. f$u has only 3

Oh, and, boy oh boy, if we get Julius Jones...a pair of 6-4, 215 lb. receivers is almost too much to hope for.

Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?


DolFan 316 said...

"I've got plenty of buddies who subscribe to recruiting service after recruiting service, who think that Scout and Rivals are for amateurs. Guys whose video collections of teenagers in tight pants would merit jail time in any other context."

At first glance I was a bit appalled but then I said to myself, "Self, you've gotta respect the guy's candor". And because of that, I suddenly feel much better about admitting that one of my friends (who was well into his 20s) screwed a 17-year old who already had a kid by someone else for an entire summer. Let;s see your friends top THAT! :-)

Oh yeah, on the recruiting thing. To me it's like the NFL draft--half the guys who are hyped up to be the Bestest Football Players Ever *always* fizzle out like wet firecrackers in any given year, and on the flip side you're always hearing about how nobody wanted Player X and look at how great he turned out. I think trying to scout players from high school is ten times harder than scouting for the NFL, there are infinitely more high schools than colleges for one thing, and any half decent guy can look great in your average high school game when they're facing players who will go to college--as business majors. Plus I always remember how last year's Gators class was allegedly the best in the nation. Oh really? Not by what I saw on the field it wasn't.

Oh, and recruiting in the NCAA Football video games when a player has you at the top of his list all the way until when he signs with another team is pretty frustrating too.

JJ Gator said...
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JJ Gator said...

Dolfan, if you were expecting perfection from these FRESHMEN you need to re-think your priorities. Too many Gator fans expect 12-0 seasons and no flaws in these kids, but the latter will never happen as we don't live in a perfect world.

It takes time for some players to fully demonstrate their talent, and that will only happen with coaching up and gametime experience.

Receuiting is very dog-eat-dog in college football, but the most adept know how to attract the talent and come out ahead. Timing is also important; with the competition out there a school can lose out on getting a committment from a top receuit if they're not in the right place at the right time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we haven't been top-heavy with upperclassmen this past season; once again a young, inexperienced team needs seasoning to reach their full potential.


Gator Duck said...

Considering how few slots we have to fill this year, I find it amazing how highly ranked this class is.

Let's just hope the coaches get everybody well seasoned quickly. I have a few marinade recipes that I could offer... :)

DolFan 316 said...

JJ Gator, I don't expect perfection from freshman, but I sure as hell don't expect historically awful performance either. How many blog entries were devoted to how bad this season's D was again?

There are dropoffs, and then there are full-on cliff dives.

Gator KGB said...

Dolfan, I don't have any buddies that can top your story. I do know someone who hid his age from a 19 yr. old until well after, shall we say, an appropriate point of disclosure. Her comment upon being properly apprised was, "you're old enough to be my father!"

Regarding the defense. when's the last time we had a true freshman playing adequately at corner?

And, let's not forget the injury factor, losing Anderson was huge.

I figured this year was a writeoff as soon as I recovered from the MNC game. The problem was that our offense was so good that we were teased into hopefulness.

Honestly, that being teased into hopefulness is a lot like being a UF fan for most of the 1970's.

I didn't see any cliff dives. And, let's face it there were a couple players on the field defensively who would not get scholarships today....McMillan, Estopinian.

Let's remember, Tebow didn't exactly blow up the offense last year. He improved exponentially between his frosh and soph campaigns.

Patience, friends, patience.

JJ Gator said...

KGB: Lest we forget, Estopinan and McMillan were recruited by none other than Ron Zook - who as we well know is incompetence walking on two feet and one of the reasons why we were in the predicament we've been in this past season.