SEC Football coaches are likely better placed than most when it comes to recruiting in a pandemic.
By Steve Wright
This is especially true for those coaches that are established in their position – think Nick Saban at Alabama and Gus Malzahn at Auburn- and for those coaches that are newer on the block but that have proven their recruiting chips in recent years – such as Kirby Smart at Georgia and Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee.
While there is nothing normal about recruiting against a backdrop of Covid-19, coaches are doing everything they can to show players and their families that while they still want them to sign up to play football at the school they are selling, that isn’t what matters most at this point.
“For us, it’s really about FaceTime, communication and talking to family members,” Kirby Smart said. “We’re checking on the well-being of everybody we recruit. We’re not making it about selling Georgia as much as, ‘Hey, what’s going on in your community now?’ Or, ‘How is your high school doing with this?’ Or, ‘How are your parents and grandparents?’ We’re making it personal and trying to talk to them.
Recruiting has changed just as everything else has as a result of social distancing and lockdowns. Campus visits are out, as is the simple act of a coaching staff visiting a recruit. Instead it is social media, FaceTime, and Zoom that are being used to woo potential recruits and sell them on a school. Coaches have to walk a fine line between selling a prospect and overwhelming them in a world where they are bombarded daily by schools. It is a fine line that is almost like working out how to act after a date has gone wrong with a girl you really like. Too little and the recruit will disappear, too much and he will turn in another direction.
This round of recruits may end up being the most scrutinized in history before they even arrive on campus. Head coaches like Ed Orgeron and Mike Leech – and specifically their staffers under them – have less to fill their days with now than ever before. The result is watching hours upon hours of recruiting film to try to build the best team when college football comes back.+
The rich will get richer here. While facilities are important, it is up to the coaches to sell themselves and the people in the program more than anything else at this point. Making the right decisions in recruiting during this window will have a massive impact on which teams are leading the SEC over the next four years.