Often in recruiting things can change in a blink of an eye. That has certainly been the case for prospects committed to schools that fired their coaches in recent weeks. Nashville (Tenn.) Lipscomb defensive tackle Rutger Reitmaier committed to Oregon last summer, then saw the Ducks fire Mark Helfrich at season’s end. The three-star defensive lineman has wavered in his commitment, but is now seriously evaluating other options. That’s per the advice of his dad who wants his son to be prepared in case the new regime in Eugene isn’t a good fit.
“I said, ‘look, if Oregon is the place for you, great. I'm not going to tell you not to go,’” Mr. Reitmaier said. “’It's a fine institution, but you probably should make sure you have five schools that you relook at. Make a list and really get to know the schools because here's the issue I see. Helfrich is gone.’ (Rutger) had a great relationship with him. (Brady) Hoke is most likely gone. (Rutger) had a great relationship with him. Who's the coach that's going to be in there? Are they going to play a 4-3 or are they going to play a 3-4? ‘You're a good 4-3 guy. It doesn't mean you can't play a 3-4 but you're going to play on the end and your best position is probably three-technique. So, you've got to be prepared (for the possibility) that the defense will be changed. You've got to be prepared that the new line coach or defensive coordinator. Whoever it is might not want you because of his scheme. You can't just have one apple in your hand. You can have several apples, so be smart about it. And then say, ‘hey dad this is an opportunity to reset, are there some other schools that didn't offer, but would (now) be interested.’’ See if they would offer. And make sure that you make a wise choice before just going headlong into, ‘I'm just going here and everything is going to be fine.’”
In the short period that Reitmaier has entertained other suitors the amount of interest has far surpassed that which he received when his recruitment first began.
"The thing that I see is he has so many quality offers,” the elder Reitmaier said. “At first it was like, ‘all right, we've got a few schools that we want to try to pursue.’ Now that this Oregon thing is happening, even more schools are coming in.”
“I started researching these schools and I see that each school has really good qualities. There are certain schools we've already said no we're not going to go to, but (that’s not the case with) Michigan. I didn't know much about Michigan. When Coach Harbaugh and Coach Mattison reached out to us and once I started talking to them and doing the research I'm like, ‘oh boy, this is a really good school, and obviously, the program is great.’ But I didn't realize how (great) on the academic side it is. So (what you’re) kind of trying to figure out as a parent is, you want to have him play where he wants to play, but also give some (perspective) to the youth that doesn't have experience. There are a lot of opportunities out there you should be considering because when you're 30, 40 and 50 and you stop playing football, you know, there's a lot of work ahead of you and being in the right program is important. That's kind of the mindset my wife and I have.”
There are numerous factors that mom and dad are stressing their son consider, but there is one they’re emphasizing more than any other.
"For me education…. the quality of education,” Mr. Reitmaier stated emphatically. “I tell him this is a lottery ticket that he won. He's got God-given gifts. Not very many people have that and he should be wise in thinking about what school he should be going to. Though it’s his dream is to play in the NFL… it's even the parent’s dreams to play in the NFL… it happens very infrequently. Make sure you go to a program that plays good football, but also go to a program that has a quality education so when you walk out of there and football is done, you've got something to hang your hat on."
Relationships with coaches are another major consideration. Schools like Duke, Penn State, and Michigan have been successful in building them with the three-star standout. There are others that haven’t been nearly as effective. To dad the reason is obvious.
"Some coaches I think are very ‘real’ right off the bat and you can feel that and you can connect to that coach. Others are what I consider used car dealers,” Mr. Reitmaier explained. “They're easy to spot too because when you walk into an office and they already have their pitch to you and it seems like it's, ‘let me pull out note card number five and here's my pitch… here's the defensive line pitch.’ You can kind of see that. But there's another group of coaches that mask their true intentions and those have been the hardest ones to kind of go through. They seem real, but then when you get to know them a little better or adversity hits or something and you see their true colors. That's what I'm trying to guard against with Rutger. They're all going to pump him up and say he's the greatest and whatever you want you're going to get it and what I'm trying to do is make sure we can weed out each of these coaches. Rutger is pretty smart, but there's some coaches that are sly. There's one in particular that both Rutger and I looked at each other after we visited there and they lost the game and I'm like going, ‘that's the true colors right there my friend. That's the true colors.’ It's easy when you win but what do you do when you lose?"
That evaluation process could last all the way until signing day as Reitmaier compares a newly staffed Oregon with a refreshed list of suitors. In the aftermath of a couple of favorable visits to Ann Arbor, expect for Michigan to be a major contender until the very end.
Stay tuned to The Michigan Insider for more on the Wolverines standing in the coming hours.