How can Matt Campbell and his potential staff members that he brings with potentially recruit to Iowa State and a little bit different recruiting grounds?
Recruiting has never, ever been a problem for them since he’s been the head coach, when he was an assistant. Toledo has consistently been No. 1 or No. 2 in the MAC recruiting rankings and over that time they’ve gotten a number of kids to sign who had Power 5 offers, who had offers from a lot of other schools and a lot of those guys have turned out.
I think the important thing to note is that it hasn’t just been a couple of areas here and there. They’ve recruited all over the country, so he’s not limited to just Ohio and Pennsylvania and some of those areas that Toledo is known for recruiting.
Iowa State is sometimes thought to be a tough place to recruit and I guess it’s probably partially true depending how you look at it, but what do you think is a key to having success at Iowa State recruiting and how Campbell can sustain some success recruiting?
I think the key for them is to get kids on campus. The facilities there are awesome, but it doesn’t do you any good if the kids can’t see them so I think the biggest thing for him will be getting kids there for junior days, getting them up early, getting them there for camp, those kind of things so they can see the school. I think that’s very important. I think that’s why focusing on the Midwest will make it easier for some of those kids to get over than it will be for kids in other areas.
In general I think he needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing, what got them there. They’ve evaluated guys very well, they’ve put out a good amount of early offers when they were at Toledo and the worry when you put out early offers is that you’re going to make some mistakes and that hasn’t happened with them at all, they’ve done a good job of being on the right guys at the right time.
With Iowa State maybe a key to recruiting is finding some gems or finding some people that you evaluate early. Mike Warren, for example, comes from Oklahoma and Oklahoma didn’t offer him and Toledo did. How are they able to evaluate some guys and get on kids before bigger schools do?
For one thing, they work at it. They don’t just go off of who already has offers out there. They really try to go out and find kids. At Toledo they did a really good job of getting kids to come to their camp. They ran several satellite camps, they attended some Big Ten camps as assistant coaches and they got a lot done there in terms of evaluation.
I agree completely that at Iowa State, for awhile at least, you’re not going to beat Oklahoma and Texas for recruits. You’re not going to go out west and beat USC. You’re not going to go down south and beat SEC schools. So you’ve got to find the Mike Warrens of the world and really they build the program at Toledo by finding guys just like that. At any MAC school you’re not going to win by consistently beating Big Ten schools. You’ve got to find the kids that those schools missed and they’ve done a good job of that at Toledo and I think that sets them up perfectly to do similar things at Iowa State.
I guess another name that comes to mind is Kareem Hunt who they got at Toledo who some think could be an NFL talent.
And when they recruited Kareem, they said that. Signing Day they said, ‘We really thought we stole one here.’ And they were right on. So that’s another example. They’ve done a great job of evaluation and Kareem is the perfect example of that.
Is Campbell and trickling down to his staff an aggressive staff? It sounds like with offers especially they get on kids quick and they feel comfortable extending it without the kid having other major interest.
I think it’ll be interesting to see, now that they’re at a Big 12 school, if they’ll change the philosophy. I don’t think they will, but they are very aggressive. They’re a young staff. They trust themselves when it comes to the evaluations, so they’re not afraid to put out some of those early offers. They hit the trail hard.
They recruited a kid from Grand Rapids last year named Bryce Witham who had a Minnesota offer and had already taken a Minnesota official visit. I went to the kid's basketball game and they had five coaches at the game even though they’re going up against Minnesota. So these guys don’t play around. They definitely put the time and effort into recruiting.
That’s interesting because I’ve read about P.J. Fleck from Western Michigan and it seems like he has had a similar philosophy. What kind of personality and tactics, as a young coach, are maybe different with Campbell and his staff?
I don’t think it’s any surprise that him and Fleck have had a lot of success in the MAC. They’re both young guys and both are aggressive recruiters. I know a couple of kids who committed to Toledo who specifically told me the youth of the staff was something they liked but also a lot of the schools that they hear from they hear from the area recruiter and they hear from the position coach. But a couple kids said, ‘Coach Campbell personally messaged me on social media. That meant a lot because he was one of the only head coaches to actually do that. He kept up with me.’
So I think that’s resonated with kids. I’ve heard more than one kid say that when they’ve committed to Toledo.
One question some have had is can they get down in other areas to recruit? They’ve shown they can recruit other areas, right?
Yeah. Ohio has been big for them. Michigan has been big for them. Then they’ve done really well in Pittsburgh, which I think Candle was the lead recruiter in Pittsburgh so it’ll be interesting to see if he comes along or if they keep recruiting that area without him. They have a commit from Texas this year, they’ve gotten kids out of South Carolina before, Georgia, Virginia. They’ve really gone all over.
You mentioned that they were recruiting Mike Warren before he went to Iowa State so clearly it doesn’t matter to them where the kid is from. They have their areas that they’re more familiar with and are closer to Toledo so they recruited Ohio and Pennsylvania more, but I don’t think they’re going to limit themselves at all. They’re going to go after anybody and everybody.
Since he’s been at Toledo, and you’ve covered him closely, aside from the recruiting side what’s he like as a coach from what you’ve gathered?
High schools coaches have had nothing but positive things to say about him and the staff. He’s a pretty straightforward guy. He comes from an outstanding college program, he played for Mount Union, so he comes from a tradition of winning. That being a DIII type of private school, he’s got some of that polish and maturity that surprises a lot of people for how young he was. I think that was a big reason he even got the head coaching job in the first place at Toledo after being a young assistant. He’s always been a guy who, people who have known him and people who are around the Toledo program have kind of always earmarked him as this guy who is going to go some place sooner than what most other people’s career trajectories would expect. He’s always been kind of that guy that people say, ‘That’s going to be the next guy right there.’