Bringing top recruits into their school has always been the most fundamental aspect of a college coach's job. However, in the cultural climate of today's sporting world, bringing in high-end high school talent has become paramount to ensuring long-term success. With more money and exposure involved in the game than ever before, it has become almost mandatory for coaches to bring in top talent year-after-year in order to ensure continual success. So much intensity is now focused in the area of high school recruiting nowadays that football coaches around the country need to be able to project who the "next big thing" in the sport is going to be several years down the road. Scout.com has recently been in contact with one of the budding young stars on the recruiting scene - Dominic Alford (Shaker Heights, OH).
With all the modern technology at a coaching staff's collective finger tips, the recruiting process today leaves no rock unturned in making sure no potential superstar goes unnoticed . . . at least in theory. Every year, in states such as Florida, Texas,Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, teenagers become the headlines and cover stories in recruiting periodicals across the nation. However, what truly makes the process an art form is to be able to find those kids who have maybe not stood out thus far in their young careers. Alford is one of northeastern Ohio's top offensive line prospects, but until now his recruitment has been a bit sluggish.
"I have talked to a few coaches and a few have visited me at school, but it has not been too chaotic as of yet," said Alford. "I still have a year left in high school, so I am not too worried. I have a lot of time left." Currently, Alford is believed to have been visited by or shown interest from the likes of Cincinnati, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, West Virginia and Akron.
However, with his recent showing at Scout.com's All-American combine in Akron, Alford is sure to recieve some much overdue respect over the next few weeks and months. Though displaying only middle-of-the-pack performance in the athletic drills inside Akron's practice facility, Alford, who was one of only five 300-pounders at the combine, impressed all in attendance during the showcase's one-on-one drills. Standing 6-2.5 and weighing in at a couple sandwiches over 300-pounds (305), Alford showed all the attributes needed to make a topnotch collegiate lineman.
"I thought I performed pretty well against some of the better guys that were there. You always think you can improve, but I think I showed at Akron that I can play against some of the top competition out there," said Alford. "I haven't really been approached by anyone yet, outside a couple of Akron coaches who just congratulated me on doing a great job."
Projected to push for time at either center or guard at the next level, the collegiate world is starting to take notice of arguably Shaker Heights' biggest kids. Scout.com especially took notice of the "man-child." Seeing beyond his mild-mannered, soft-spoken mentality off the field, Alford's general nastiness and win-at-all-costs attitude while on the gridiron has seen his popularity soar amongst all those involved in college recruiting. Scout.com has recently broadcasted Alford's highlight reel on ScoutTV, displaying the abilities that have left many scouts drooling.
While he appears impressive on tape, and even more dominating up close, Alford realizes that he has much work to do before he shows up on a college campus in the late-Summer or early Autumn of 2006.
"I am just going to work to get faster, bigger and stronger," said the high school shot putter. "I am just going to attend the workouts and do what the coaches tell me. I am willing to do the work, so I think I'll be fine."
Alford's biggest area of emphasis will be trying to gain quickness without losing size or strength. Even though he already possesses a quality mixture of hand work, size, quick feet and brute strength (350-pound bench press), there is still much work to do for Alford before he decides where to invest the next four years of his life. Like many high school athletes, Alford will be aided in his quest to become the ultimate offensive linemen by taking advantage of the opportunity to visit and "camp" at several colleges this summer to help him prepare for his senior seasons when school lets out.
"Finals are this week, luckily I only have one final so I can focus on the summer right away," said Alford half-jokingly. "I've been invited to visit a few schools this summer, I think I am going to Pitt in a few weeks."
While looking to enjoy his summer, he realizes that in order to become a premier college prospect he has to mold himself into a collegiate body, while at the same time serving as testing ground for college coaches. However, while Alford will undoubtedly be spending time "camping" during the off-season, visiting local colleges that have shown interest and working out, much of the work that Alford will put forth will come with the assistance of coaches and teammates at Shaker Heights.
"It will be nice to get my name out there and see what college will be like, but most of my work will be with my high school coaches and teammates."
Along with fellow teammate and soon-to-be senior Dart Mitchell, a wide receiver prospect (who has been shown interest by UC) who was attending an Ohio University camp on Sunday, Alford will look to shape his body, his football talent, and, possibly most important, his mind for the upcoming season. Though for Alford, the 2005 season will be far more about his Red Raider team then it will be about personal accolades.
"I want to focus on my team right now. As much as I want to perform well myself, if my team does not play well it will really be a waste of my senior year," said the selfless Alford. "I think team success is my ultimate goal for this season."
So as Alford embarks on his Summer-long journey to improve upon his team's 8-3 record from a year ago, college coaches across the country who may have overlooked this potential diamond in the rough thus far will be looking to correct some obvious flaws in their recruiting system. Be on alert for more late-breaking news in regard to this potential gem.