Everywhere I have gone in the past week or its seems like just about everybody wants to talk about football recruiting. From the first day when I took over as Auburn’s coach I said recruiting was critical and that hasn’t changed over the years because the teams the Tigers are competing with in the Southeastern Conference are going to have talented players and Auburn must have them, too, to reach its goals.
From what I can tell Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff are going to have a good recruiting year and if things fall into place on Wednesday, which is national signing day, it could be better than good. A couple of big dogs coming on board late can change the Richter scale that they use for gauging recruiting.
It is almost always tense for college staffs this time of year, even though there is more emphasis on early arrivals who the coaches aren’t waiting on to make decisions in February. Auburn is one of those programs bringing in prospects early when possible. Nine members of its 2016 class started college classes last month.
I suspect most of the kids who have yet to publically commit already have got their minds made up about what they are going to do. With recruiting in a no-contact period until after national signing day the coaches can talk to the players on the phone, but can’t have any face-to-face conversations so it is probably too late in the process to get much more done on the recruiting front.
Since a lot of the prospects are being recruited starting in the 10th grade, or even earlier, I think by the time they are done with their senior football seasons they have a pretty good idea of the colleges they want to seriously consider.
Personally, I would like to see the number of official visits allowed for each prospect be reset from five to three. In my experience I can almost promise you that of the prospects who take all five official visits at least two of them are sight-seeing only trips. It would be less stressful on the players, less stressful on the parents, and less stressful on the coaches to reduce the number to three.
I also believe the success formula for a college program involves more than signing the right guys. I still think the environment that you put them in when you get them on campus is so critical. Developing players physically while maintaining a chemistry that is conducive to winning is a big deal. A good example of a team that did that last year is Clemson, which will be Auburn’s season-opening opponent this year.
Once the players are signed and enrolled it is up to the coaches to make sure the atmosphere around the athletic complex is focused on improving on a daily basis. No matter how good the recruits are as high school seniors, they will have major work to do to be ready to face the challenges of college football
In most cases the newcomers will need to get bigger and stronger under the supervision of the coaching staff while learning what it takes to be successful working toward goals in a team concept vs. a much higher level of competition. Programs that accomplish this are able to fully take advantage of the opportunities offered after having a lot of wins on national signing day.