We can all envision the stereotypical college sports recruiting story. A coach from a noted program knocks on the front door of a home, only to inevitably led into the living room by loving parents. Already in the living room is the young man or young woman who has caught the coach’s eye, whose future might very well be determined on the nature of the meeting that is about to ensue. The prepared coach is careful to make eye contact with the recruit and the parents, selling everyone on the notion of a memorable experience in sports, and rewarding enrichment in the classroom of the respective university.
Of course, that scene hasn’t been able to unfold in quite that way for the better part of two years. Programs, recruits, and their families alike have had to get creative in their ability to learn about one another. For example, Tyler Magnuson, an offensive lineman from Minnesota, had to make a pretty big life decision without the benefit of traditional “getting to know you measures.”
“I feel like some days I’d be on phone calls for the majority of the day trying to feel out programs over the phone,” he recalled. “It wasn’t ideal, but it kind of worked out in the end. A lot of it done through YouTube, and all of the virtual tours schools provided. It was just a lot of virtual stuff. I really wish it was in person, but with Covid and stuff, we couldn’t have that.” Via SI.com
Magnuson ended signing on with Syracuse, but the coaching staff there also felt like they had their hands tied a little bit during the process. It wasn’t specific to concerns with Magnuson necessarily, but in general, the Orange coaching group had to make decisions with less of a full picture than they’d ever had.
“But then there’s this other set of guys and this is what we need to do a good job of especially at Syracuse,” said Kramer Cook, Director of Recruiting at Syracuse. “The evaluation process of that middle group where you like what you see on the highlight tape, you dig through the game tape and then you want to go see him either at a camp or see them live just to kinda verify with what the film says. That’s what we weren’t able to get this year.” Via SI.com
Delving into the matter deeper reveals another challenge for programs; the film on a prospect may be severely limited due to an abridged or cancelled high school season. Some coaches had to do a little big more digging to confirm their opinion on a player.
“We recently signed a player from the state of Washington who had his junior(and potentially senior) year cancelled,” said University of Minnesota baseball coach Brandon Hunt. “Fortunately, we were able to see him play prior to his junior summer getting cut short.” Via LRT-Sports.com
As with many areas of college sports, and life in general, sometimes a larger budget can help certain larger schools stand a better chance at recruiting, even with all the uncertainty.
“Most big clubs have been able to stay training with their teams and given their players footage to send to college scouts,” said Lacey Largeteau, Skidmore soccer coach. “Smaller clubs that are renting facilities or don’t have access to film equipment are struggling to get players what they need to showcase themselves digitally. Via LRT-Sports.com
It is certainly a multi-faceted topic, and as the pandemic encroaches into 2022, we will see these themes continue to play out all across the country.