The Future IS Now

By: Mike Anthony news services

As restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic remain in place in relation to NCAA sports, college football teams are managing to remain as active as ever.

Players are working out on their own at their respective houses and online video meetings are allowing the various meetings for teams, players and position groups that normally fill the schedule preceding fall camp.

However, there is one aspect of the summer months that has had to change drastically. From the end of spring practice up through the long days of June and July, most college football coaches are racking up the mileage as they attend camps and start to make contacts with recruits they hope to sign at the end of the season.

Several members of the Georgia Southern coaching staff joined a Zoom meeting on where much of the discussion with media members was centered on how the team is continuing to recruit despite no visits allowed and few opportunities for athletes to showcase their skills.

“I’ve tried to embrace this as an opportunity,” Georgia Southern associate head coach and running backs coach Chris Foster said. “I think I’m a little more tech savvy than some others and things were leaning towards more technology even before (the virus). The teams who are going to succeed are the ones who are going to adapt.”

Coaches may not be able to see prospective recruits go up against live competitions, but the advancement of cheap video technology and the explosion of social media over the last decade allow many hopeful high-schoolers to provide colleges with expansive highlight reels.

That sort of accessibility allows coaches to evaluate film in their meetings and make informed decisions on who to pursue and what to focus on in their game.

There is also a silver lining for the coaches as meeting with a dozen recruits over the course of a few days is now as easy as setting up a streaming meeting instead of putting hundreds of miles on a vehicle and waking up in a different hotel every day.

Still, there are new issues as meetings have had to work around school and work schedules for athletes and their parents.

“Depending on when you can schedule a meeting, there have been some 14 and 15 hour days,” GS defensive coordinator Scot Sloan said. “We’re still doing all of our homework. We’re meeting with these kids and the high school coaches have been great about keeping us in touch and getting us in contact with teachers, counselors and anyone else who we might want to talk to about a guy.”

The recruiting game has certainly been turned on its’ head. If anything, it could become a net benefit for smaller schools like Georgia Southern.

No matter how good Georgia Southern coaches are at evaluating prep players or selling them on the Eagles, they don’t have the ability of larger schools with much larger budgets to employ dozens of people to scour every corner of the country.

And most schools certainly don’t have the luxury of putting a coach on a private jet straight into a player’s backyard on a moment’s notice in order to gain an edge in the recruiting battle.

The playing field has leveled in that regard, meaning that originality and innovation off of the base model of Twitter highlights and Zoom meetings is now something that can make a school stand out to a prized recruit.

It’s a whole new ballgame in the high-stakes world of football recruiting. Now it remains to be seen how the new methods of selling teams and schools will pan out.