If you are not active on Twitter, you may not have noticed a monumental upswing in Hawaii’s recruiting efforts. If you are well-aware, we have additional insights for you too…
While Hawaii's on-the-field efforts were well below par in recent years, their recruiting efforts were just as deficient, says Scout.com National Recruiting Director Brandon Huffman. Now Hawaii is doing something completely different under the direction of new head coach Nick Rolovich. UH has been one of the most active schools in the nation, offering literally hundreds of recruits for the 2017 class.
“It’s the polar opposite of the previous staff at Hawaii,” Scout.com National Recruiting Director Brandon Huffman said.
Here’s a closer look at what Hawaii is accomplishing through this new strategy.
The “game behind the game” can be approached in a lot of ways, but one key benefit is developing relationships with high school coaches. This spring the UH coaches were out at several high schools each day during the evaluation period. Some coaches spread across the islands, some went to the mainland.
“Two springs ago (Chow’s staff) didn’t even go on the road during the evaluation period - they didn’t even go on the mainland to recruit,” Huffman said. “That was kind of shocking, there may have been budgetary reasons for that. That’s how far behind the curve they used to be when it came to recruiting.
“They wouldn’t start getting the plan in place until mid-fall, late-fall, and then see where the cards fell at the time January came around.”
Once you get a feel for the recruiting efforts in recent years, you can see how football at UH dropped off from the level of the 2000’s.
By making appearances across the nation, meeting coaches and spending facetime with coaches and recruits - high school programs now can put a face to the names, get an understanding about what UH football is now all about and establish trust for recruits from these programs to someday commit to Hawaii.
The first priority in establishing relationships was to do so in the state of Hawaii, where coaches stopped at seemingly every school and have offered scholarships to the majority of projected next-level talents in the state.
Shooting for the “stars”
Hawaii’s offers have ranged from being a recruit’s very first, to offering recruits with national rankings and Power-5 offers.
“I really like how they’re going after some of the top players in the country and they aren’t scared to fight for those types of players,” new UH freshman Ikem Okeke told us earlier this year. “That’s ultimately what you want to try to do, you want the best players, you don’t want mediocre players. I really feel like a couple players might end up coming there because you don’t want to end up having to wait a couple years to start playing when you could start your freshman year or be a big impact to a team.”
It is not likely for the new coaching staff to come right in and land one of the nation’s best classes, but with the strategy they could end up landing a few highly regarded recruits when signing day nears.
Social media takeover
WIth nearly every offer that UH sends out, the corresponding recruit takes to twitter to announce his newly received offer. These tweets are typically accompanied by the UH logo and images of the UH facilities and the scenery that Hawaii has to offer.
“With social media being so prevalent in recruiting, the fact that kids are tweeting how blessed, humbled and honored they are to get an offer from Hawaii, even if they don’t seriously consider them, that’s enough to get people’s attention that Hawaii is getting after it,” Huffman said.
Twitter is still a relatively new recruiting tool - and for most of Twitter’s existence there has been very little UH presence in the recruiting circle. Now it seems every day that several recruits are tweeting out their Hawaii offer, which further gets the UH recruiting brand out to the public.
Casting a wide net
Hawaii has offered hundreds of recruits for the 2017 class. Obviously, UH cannot take all of these next-level college athletes, but there are several ways this is benefiting UH.
“I think that the honesty our staff is going to have, our aggressive nature both offensively and defensively,” Rolovich said. “I think they are going to be able to trust our staff and what we say. I think that trust factor is huge. There’s a lot of benefits to getting away, becoming a man… and the worldly experience of coming to Hawaii is something that is hard to put into words until you experience it…. And the quality education.”
And Hawaii is offering this pitch to A LOT of recruits:
“They are very willing and very eager to offer kids,” Huffman said. “But they are also even going after some kids that already have the bigger offers to show ‘we want to be mentioned in the same breath as these schools.’
"You may offer a lot of kids, but you’re still only going to have about 35-40 guys that you’re really going to recruit."
Masking the trail
One WSN message boarder posed the question - is Hawaii sending out so many offers to distract other schools from finding their real targets? Huffman said this does play a role.
"There is absolutely something to that," Huffman said. "That’s one of the advantages of making a lot of offers. It’s very reactionary and that’s how the offer game really works these days. Offers breed offers… The more offers you throw out, the more you see the same schools who continue to just poach the recruits we just offered and you kind of throw them off your scent.”
As Hawaii puts these strategies into motion, WSN will be tracking down the latest recruiting information to provide inside info to our subscribers as National Signing Day nears.
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