© Jacquie Franciulli/Scout

Ja'Juan Seider ready to dance in the recruiting game with Gators

He’s never been given the chance to recruit at a school like Florida. Not that West Virginia is chopped liver mind you, but recruiting in south Florida where Ja’Juan Seider has his roots and being able to recruit from Florida and in the SEC is a whole different ballgame. And while the new Florida assistant knows this, he also understands that the bigger doors that open for him also means that there is that much more work to do.

The good thing about Seider is that he likes the work. The more work he puts into landing a prospect, the more accomplished he feels. Not every recruiter is blessed with that kind of recruiting attitude, but that is all that Seider knows.

“I think what the Gator logo does for you is get you in the door but it doesn’t get any easier,” Seider said about his new digs when speaking at the presser announcing him and assistants Brad Davis and Corey Bell as Florida’s newest hires.  “That’s what people think. Because you got a Florida logo it gets easier for you. No it doesn’t.

“You’re still recruiting against the Alabama’s of the world, the Miami’s of the world, the Florida States, the USC’s. Now you gotta work. That’s the honeymoon part of it. You’re in the relationship, now you gotta go finish the job.”

Relationship building is such a key aspect to recruiting. It is likely the key aspect. And it is just important for the Florida staff to like the relationship between the program and a high profile recruit as it is for the recruit to like that same relationship. All the time and energy spent in the recruiting process is well spent, and the good recruiters want to spend that time in the process.

“You gotta put the ring on it, he said of the relationship with prospects. “That’s what I correlate it to. You’re gonna win some, you’re gonna lose some. You always want to be on the side of winning but in reality, and like anything, like dating a woman sometimes it doesn’t work the first time. That’s the same thing in recruiting. Get out there and work.”

Like any kind of relationship there are going to be rocky parts. In the recruiting world, you have all the other big time rival programs that may be after the same prospect. They are going to paint some unflattering pictures of your program and maybe even the recruiter himself while trying to show what a great option they are. Seider understands it and that it doesn’t matter.  You still have a job to do and if you want the best you have to go after the best.

When he is assigned a prospect that the staff agrees they want to get, he is going to do whatever he can do within the rules to get that prospect to jump on the Gator train.

“We talk about all the time in recruiting, there are two things they can tell you — yes or no - don’t be afraid to let a kid tell you no,” he said. “You gotta get in and dance with that kid to find out if you have a chance. I believe in that, I believe in being aggressive in everything that you do, recruiting, playing, and coaching (are) the same way, you gotta attack it. It’s a winning mentality. I look at recruiting the same way I look at coaching. I want to win. That’s a game to me. I hate losing. I’m going to try my best to do whatever I can to win. Establish that relationship not only with a player but that family, the people that impact that kid’s life and let’s make him a Gator.

And there are going to be times when he or the staff has a good feel for a prospect that maybe does ride under the radar. Seider has had enough successes at West Virginia with this type of prospect that he is comfortable in landing the same type with the Gators.

“I think not just for me but for all the guys on the staff, we’re going to go find the best players,” he said. “No matter what area he’s from. If we have to tag-team guys, we’ve got to single recruit a guy, we’re going to do the best we can to find the right fit for us.

“So many times we get caught up on stars. Sometimes stars are misleading. Guys can get stars because they go to camp. You can have some kids who are just as good, and you get out there and research and work on, that maybe don’t have the meals that those guys had, so they don’t have the maturity and body structure. I’ve been in a place where we didn’t get those (big time) guys, but we developed those guys and they go on to be NFL players just like every coach that we have on the staff.

“I think it’s all about the right fit. So much of recruiting is about the right fit. One kid may not fit in this system when another kid does. That’s the misleading thing about recruiting and why kids don’t pan out.”

What makes the right fit?  It has to do with a particular system and what the position coach wants in a player. Seider knows what he wants in his running backs.

“I think it starts with the system first, because a certain system allows you to be flexible with certain things you can do,” he said. “This system, I want the best player… the best player that fits us. I don’t just want a kid who meets the measurements – whatever those measurements we set for – but also, I’m a firm believer that I shouldn’t have to coach speed.

Not every prospect is gifted in the classroom, but the really good prospects are the guys that understand the nuances of football. He’s looking for those guys.

“I think you want kids who can run, who can score, who can make people miss with the finished run, and got great football IQ, who understand not just being a running back but being a complete football player,” Seider said. “Because I teach a lot of that with my background at quarterback – understanding what defenses are doing, how we can attack. It helps to carry on being a better football player.

“I think kids that are natural with the football, some stuff as a running back – I’m just talking about that position – some stuff I don’t need to coach. We’re always telling what running backs are supposed to have: great vision. If I’m coaching you on vision, we’re going to have a lot of issues.

Seider understands that he can sell the history of the position at Florida which is littered with some of college football’s greatest players and the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

“The expectation at Florida is to have a great back,” he started again. “Look at the history of this place. Emmitt, Errict Rhett, Fred Taylor, the list goes on and that’s the expectation. You’ve got to keep the standard to stay at that point. And I think we’ve got some guys in that room who can do it.

He is high on the players that he will coach this spring and into the fall. He saw enough in one game last fall to recognize there is some heart returning at the position.

“I watched that LSU game and I told some of the guys, joking around, I said ‘I knew you guys were going to win that game. This is why I knew you guys were going to win that game. I said first of all, you don’t pick a fight with Florida guys. I mean you just don’t’. I said that’s when I knew they were going to win the game, and I’m joking with them but the way those guys ran and finished runs that game, that was impressive. That’s as good as you can ask for as a running backs coach. Go finish runs on third down, end of game situations, punch it in on the goal line, that’s what you want.

“I tell them all the time. The quarterback and the center touch the ball more than us but we’re going to affect the game more than anybody. If it’s third-and-short it’s a great chance we’re going to get the ball. If it’s a four-minute offense we gotta run the clock out and finish games. Understand that we gotta be in those situations to take over games and finish games. That’s the expectation in this room.”


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