DEMAREE: Coaches fan out on recruiting trail

One of the most popular clichés used by recruiting coordinators is "recruiting is like shaving, you do it every day." True but it all depends on how you go about it and who you have doing it.

Former coordinator under Bill Curry, Tommy Limbaugh used to hang his hat on that cliché, however he employed a ‘one-man band recruiting philosophy' meaning he made all the decisions on what athletes were signed. He met his fate after five years of minimal success that led to the demise of Bill Curry after seven years. Limbaugh was fired.

That same philosophy used by Claude Bassett, the coordinator under Hal Mumme, met with the same fate, which led to the same ending for that regime. Between the two regimes, that totaled nine of thirteen years with Guy Morriss sandwiched in between of spinning their wheels. Jerry Claiborne turned over in his grave, given the facilities he left the program.

The most recent coordinator, Ron Caragher, left the staff to take a head-coaching job. The new coordinator, Randy Sanders, who is now working on his first class of recruits, also employs the same recruiting philosophy about the zeal needed for the success of the job at hand. The difference in the way success is achieved under his guidance, though, is that he said he is doing what the title implies and that is coordinating the recruiting. That's not the 'one-man band philosophy' others have employed.

On the Monday after the spring game, seven coaches fanned out to various areas in the state and country to diligently start the process of evaluating talent for the 2008 recruiting class. The coaches are given one month starting from April 15th to the end of May to do there evaluating and to seriously continue the weeding out process on what players they are going to be serious about signing. Sanders said - "we can't have personal contact with the youngsters but we will be visiting with high school coaches, watching tape, visiting with principals, guidance councilors and all the people around the schools."

Sanders said he will be out as much as the rest of the coaches but he will be coordinating where each coach goes.

Recruiting is all about forming alliances with high schools, coaches, and areas. Joker Phillips has been big in that area, which has brought him and UK a lot of success on the recruiting trail. He has created a strong alliance in South Carolina and at LaGrange High School in Lagrange, Georgia. Philllips gracefully fends off a lot of the credit he receives. For example, in 2005 and ‘06 he was voted by a national news organization as one of the top ten recruiters in the country. In the throes of a good recruiting class at the time, Phillips said I know I get a lot of the credit but we have a bunch of go-getters on this staff.

Recruiters experience a lot of frenzy on certain days on the trail on and off airplanes, in and out of rental cars, and in and out of schools. "Some of my busiest days are in state when I'm here in Louisville," Phillips said. "I have all twenty-eight schools in the city of Louisville and I will hit them all in a three day period. I've got it down to a science and I can sometimes do it in two and a half days in and out of cars, the same thing with Atlanta (Georgia). South Carolina is probably a little bit more spread out, it's probably more driving and not in and out of cars as much.

Joker Phillips still draws from his coaching tenure at the University of South Carolina under Lou Holtz.

"Buddy Pugh really helped me when I first went to South Carolina," Phillips said about the coach whose place he took when he arrived there. Pugh left Phillips his lists he recruited from when he left to take the South Carolina State head-coaching job. "He had gotten to know all the coaches in his area and I just took over his areas. I took over Troy Williamson and Demetrius Summers, who was only a junior at the time."

Williamson is now a pro wide receiver and Summers had greatness written all over him but fell through the cracks by suspension under Steve Spurrier.

Phillips said he's still as active in South Carolina this year as he's ever been. He said this year his areas in South Carolina is a little more fruitful than his areas in Atlanta, so he will spend more time in South Carolina and less time in Atlanta.

With the limited number of scholarships available this year, Phillips said things will be a lot slower developing. They will be, 1) more selective and 2) be recruiting a higher ranked recruit.

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