May 9, 2009

Rivals.com Recruiting Roundtable: Part I

Periodically, we ask our recruiting analysts to answer some questions that don't pertain to specific prospects. Instead, the questions are about broader recruiting issues.

Recruiting analysts Jeremy Crabtree, Barry Every, Mike Farrell, Jamie Newberg and Barton Simmons were asked 10 questions. This is part one of a three-part series, with part two coming May 16 and part three on May 23.

1. Will we ever return to the days when early commitments were rare?

Jeremy Crabtree's answer:
There's no question that more and more schools have put a priority on early offers. There was a time when it was just Texas that pushed for early commitments, but when you see it happening nationwide, you know it's a big deal. Unless the NCAA pushes forward some sort of new legislation, I don't see a time when early commits again will be rare. It has become too much ingrained into what college coaches, high school coaches and the prospects themselves believe in. Is it the best thing? That's a different topic. I think the answer will come a few years down the road, when we see the results of all these early commitments. If you see all these early commits not panning out, coaches might be a little more wary of sending out offers and pushing for commitments.

Barry Every's answer:
Unless the NCAA comes down with some legislation regarding when prospects can be offered scholarships, early commitments are here to stay. There are a bunch of colleges throwing out blanket offers to almost every top kid just so they can have a chance at him later if they don't get their first choice. Many times, these offers are rescinded when the school finds someone they like better. I only see early commitments increasing over the next 10 years.

Mike Farrell's answer:
I don't think there's any turning back at this point unless the NCAA comes in with new rules, and I don't expect that to happen. I think it will get worse and worse as things evolve and coaches begin to compete for kids with early offers. I'm just hoping it doesn't turn into basketball, where colleges begin evaluation in eighth grade. But it could get to that point eventually.

Jamie Newberg's answer:
For now, this is how it is. And you can "blame" Mack Brown and Texas. From coast to coast now, schools are evaluating and offering earlier and kids are committing earlier. I don't see recruiting (and early commitments) going back. If anything, it will continue to accelerate until the NCAA steps in. We shall see what happens if they add an additional signing period.

Barton Simmons' answer:
At this point, I can't see that there's any way to decelerate the process. As long as major programs are able to gather as much information as they need and have the budgets to recruit nationally like they do, there's no incentive to slow things down.

2. Has there been more talk this year from coaching staffs both college and in high school about the need for an early signing period?

Jeremy Crabtree's answer:
It's all coaches talk about now. I would say almost 90 percent of the coaches I talk to on both levels want an early signing period. I know a big number of college coaches were shocked the conference commissioners so overwhelmingly shot down the early signing period proposal last winter. They were disappointed, but I think more and more are rallying to the cause and it's something that is going to happen eventually. High school coaches are also in favor of it because it definitely makes their lives easier. When it comes time to get ready for games on Friday nights, the last thing they want to deal with are recruiters and having their kids' focus somewhere else.

Barry Every's answer:
I am aware that some college coaches would like an early signing period in hopes that kids will be unable to change their mind at the last second. The problem with an early signing period is that coaching changes will more than likely take place after the early signing period. Then, you have kids signed and delivered to head coaches who no longer are at the school. That could cause problems.

Mike Farrell's answer:
I think there's more talk from the media than from coaches. I know many coaches who would love to see it, but few who think it is coming because of the numerous coaching changes that occur on a yearly basis. The need for an early signing period gets bigger and bigger each year, but I don't think it has the momentum from coaches and administrators to get done.

Jamie Newberg's answer:
I think this idea is picking up more and more steam with the college coaches. I think if you polled the college coaches, they would want it now that recruiting has become so accelerated. The question is when it would be. Most of the talk is centered on having it sometime in late November or in early to mid-December. I think that's better than nothing. I am all for an early signing period sometime in late July or early August, before fall practice starts in high school and college. In order for this to happen, the recruiting calendar would have to be altered, allowing prospects to make official visits during the summer. And regardless of the timing of an early signing period, there would be a need to address what would happen if there was a coaching change.

Barton Simmons' answer:
There seems to be less of a call for change as there has been just a continued move toward adjusting to the routine of an early recruitment. In the grand scheme of things, the trend of accelerated recruiting is new, so high school coaches and college coaches still are learning how to handle the new challenges that presents. Both sides are more focused on mastering the new trend right now than on changing it.

3. Of the coaching staffs hired this offseason, who is making the biggest impression on the recruiting trail?

Jeremy Crabtree's answer:
I think you'd be nave if you didn't say Tennessee. I say this not just because of the recruiting wars that already are raging in SEC territory; rather, it's Tennessee's national approach that makes this even more relevant. The Vols are working on prospects in almost every corner of the nation, and they're going to be factors on prospects in Florida, Texas, California and even in places like Washington and in the Northeast. They're all over the place, and they've without question made the biggest impression so far.

Barry Every's answer:
I am going to surprise everyone and say Washington, which currently sits on seven commitments, six of which are from in-state prospects. The Huskies have seen hard times for several years, but coach Steve Sarkisian looks to be using a formula that has helped a lot of coaches successfully rebuild programs: sign every possible in-state prospect. If he can cherry-pick a few difference-makers from California, it won't be long before he turns around this program.

Mike Farrell's answer:
To me, it's Auburn. They are up against it in-state with Alabama basically owning the state right now, but Gene Chizik has hired a great staff. They are aggressive and they impress every recruit that comes to visit. The early returns are positive.

Jamie Newberg's answer:
It's early, but if I had to pick one, I would say Auburn. The Tigers might have only four commitments, but many elite prospects are high on Auburn and I think the staff made a lot of noise with the recent "Tiger Prowl" and the use of a stretch limo for a week. Gene Chizik hired a great staff and they closed well with this last class. Having said that, they have their work cut out for them. Alabama has dominated in-state recruiting recently. My sleeper is Syracuse. The Orange will surprise some people this season on the recruiting trail.

Barton Simmons' answer:
I think you have to at least mention Auburn because of the way that staff has been able to drum up a lot of excitement from a lot of big-name players, but it's hard to pick against Tennessee. What that staff was able to do post-signing day was ridiculous: The No. 1 player in the country, a five-star cornerback and a Rivals100 running back. Even though they've ruffled some feathers along the way, I don't think there's any doubt that Lane Kiffin's staff has shaken up the recruiting landscape the most.




 

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