Part of the underlying principles of recruiting is not just the pursuit and signing of blue chip athletes. What you find during the process are the beneficial relationships between the college staffs and the potential prospects high school coach. Many times in these situations, ground work is laid down to form long-lasting and working professionalism that will create a solid foundation for any future recruiting efforts with that coach or others in the profession. This is a vital component to make sure there is a sense of familiarity moving forward. The current staff for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is showing promise in this area with a strong work ethic and an ability to communicate well. They are also building relationships- even in a short period of time, as evidenced in the last part of this recruiting class.
The relationships with the high school coaches start in the spring evaluation period when off-campus contact is limited for upcoming juniors and sophomores. When a staff has created a good relationship with the high school coach, in my experience, it starts a chain reaction process that benefits the college recruiter. At this stage in the game, the prospect’s coach will gather up as much info on the underclassman as he can; his transcripts, measurables and times. This is invaluable to a college coach to help show if a kid has the standard qualities of becoming a prospect that they can offer. When the familiarity with each one of the football staffs has reached this level of comfort and open communication, it makes the whole ordeal run simpler.
Every high school coach, wants his athletes to have the best opportunity to be afforded to them to further their career. In the end, there are many different levels to consider for the prospect to earn a D1 offer. In this case, when trust has been established, a coach will be very honest with the guy in charge of the recruiting effort. I know in my situations if we have been on the up and up, I would be very clear in my opinions of his abilities as well as his work ethic and commitment in the classroom. All helps make the college coach’s job in the recruitment process easier, and he can manage his board more effectively. He will know up front if he should consider his pursuit of the athlete in evaluations. The key here is time. It saves a college coach time on the little things that often eat every bit of it up. The idea here is that he will know what he has to work with and can maximize his efforts to recruit more guys to begin the overall process of “widening the net”. Doing this doesn’t mean you’re just setting yourself up to take whoever will have you in case plan A doesn’t work, but it allows you to cover more ground and review more film to be more accurate in your assessments. That guy you have as a plan B, might have certain qualities you need for your particular system. This knowledge will only be revealed by having the time to find it.
Another positive in all of this, again from 20 years or college and high school coaching experience, is that when a school becomes very interested in a player that I’ve had, I would always be very transparent in my communication with the recruiter. When another college program came around asking for information or showing interest, I would be sure to let him know. Never trying to steer a kid one way or the other, but like in all business ventures, when you have a good working relationship with someone, you tend to be honest and upfront, involving good news and bad. It tends to help show the athlete that the schools looking to get his signature, are as dedicated as they have claimed to be.
The main point in all of this, is that even if you don’t land a kid from a particular high school or area it is important to form those relationships because of the atmosphere it creates when that college comes around. The kids sense it. The parents sense it, and in a subconscious type of way, it makes your program appear familiar. Take that word, “familiar”, and study its root back to the Latin “familiaris”, it facilitates to the word ‘family”. If the Notre Dame coaching staff continues to work and perfect its efforts, as it showed in the limited time this year with their closing efforts with the ’17 class, it will offer that feeling of family when reaching out to a prospect. That feeling will stretch into the homes and fields across the country, as the arm of the Fighting Irish recruiting effort reaches out further.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of your football program. The main valve often runs through a high school coaches office, and feeds your success on the field.