A Q&A with Reed Stringer

Mississippi State football's Director of Recruiting Operations Reed Stringer provides an in-depth look at the recruiting process.

How has spring recruiting gone so far?
"It's been going really well. All of our coaches are just now getting back from being on the road. They were out for four weeks. You have from April 15th to May 31st to get the four weeks in. And you are allowed to have seven coaches out at a time. "

How do you go about targeting the guys you want to recruit in the spring?
"You start watching recruiting film a year in advance of this. We were watching juniors last fall. And usually after you signed the '09 class you have a pretty good idea who you want to go after in the 2010 class. We had a lot of names on the (recruiting) board already, and when you go out recruiting in the spring that allows you to target the kids you already like, make sure you get their transcripts, make sure you are seen at their practices, make sure they know that Mississippi State has been around to check on them. It's very important that they see you at practice so they'll know you are making the effort to be at that spring game, be at that jamboree. Of course, you aren't allowed to talk to them, although you have one phone call you can make to them in the spring. They can call you as often as they want."

Now that the spring recruiting period is over, what happens now recruiting-wise?
"Now that the coaches have gotten off the road, not only have they had the chance to evaluate further the guys we have offered but we have found new players, guys who we might not have gotten film of or guys who might have improved a lot from the fall of '08 to their spring practice of '09. The thing about these kids that you have to take into consideration is that they are 16, 17, 18-years-old and their bodies may have changed in six months. It's amazing sometimes what can happen with their bodies during a short period of time. You have to make sure you evaluate those kids."

Do you already have an idea about those type players who may have developed by the spring of their junior year?
"There are guys going into the fall of their junior year who you know are legit prospects. Those are the guys who get the early offers. All they can do is get better and they are already good enough to receive a scholarship offer from you. But when you go out in the spring you may see a kid who you felt in the fall might become a prospect if he got a little bit bigger or faster or improve his game a little bit. There have been numerous guys like that. With those guys you really have to keep your eyes out for them because that happens a lot with these 17 and 18-year-old kids."

Recruiting-wise, what do you do during the summer months?
"The biggest thing we do in the summer is getting the kids on our campus. How can we get these kids we know we are going to recruit on our campus? How can we get a good player who we aren't quite ready to offer a scholarship to on our campus so we can evaluate him further? We want to see him on our campus at a camp working out so, hopefully, he can earn that scholarship. Promoting your camps is what the summer is about and getting kids on campus, getting kids on your campus even when there's not a camp. We are allowed to spend as much time with them as we want when they are on our campus, so you want them on your campus to begin building that relationship with them. It's all about developing a relationship with them.

"And it's difficult to develop a relationship with the kids with one phone call or through emails or mail correspondence. That's a good way to let them know that we are thinking about them and that we like them but it's difficult to develop that relationship with them that way. To develop that relationship with them, they have to call us or visit our campus."

Will there be meetings after the camp to talk about players that you might be interested in recruiting?
"We meet after the camps to talk about the evaluations of the kids we saw. There will always be a kids there that we already know that we want. And the other ones that are important to us are the ones that we weren't quite ready to offer and wanted to see in camp. Did they do enough to receive that offer? And there are always those kids in camp who really stood out that you didn't know anything about prior to them attending your camp.

"When the camps are over and summertime is over we will narrow our list down to the guys that we want to go after starting at September 1st. We'll start getting them on campus for games, do our fall evaluations on the road and call them once a week. That leads up to the end of November and December 1st when our (recruiting coaches) can go to their schools and homes to visit with them."

How many players does your recruiting list consist of right now? And how many do you want on the list when September 1st rolls around?
"Right now, I would say every coach has a list of around 25 to 30 guys who are probably receiving regular correspondence. If September 1st comes and you are heavily recruiting more than 10 to 15 guys, then you are going to have some trouble giving enough personal attention to each recruit. So, we'll probably try narrowing that down by September 1st. Of course, guys will drop off while new guys will be added."

Will your September list be around 100 to 150 players?
"It could very easily be around 100 players. And you have to recruit 100 players to sign 25 because all of those kids are being recruited when September 1st comes around. So, signing 25 of that 100 you are recruiting is about what you can expect."

What exactly can coaches do during the fall evaluation?
"It's just like spring when you go out on the road in the fall. You aren't allowed to talk to the kid in person. You go to the school for academic evaluation and you go watch a practice or a game. The biggest difference in the fall compared to the spring is you are allowed to talk to the kid once a week on the phone. That allows you to start developing that relationship with him."

With the kids that you have offered, you already know that they are good enough to play for you. I understand why you would want to check on his academics, but why go to his game and watch him when you already know he's good enough to play for you?
"Really the best evaluation you can make of a kid is to see him in the game and on the sidelines. It all comes down to what you see on that football field. You can't always see all of that in film or by talking to the coaches or other people who know him.

"Another thing that happens at a game is you may see underclassmen that you want to see a little more of."

What specifically do you see in a live game that you may not see in a game film?
"When you are at a game there are so many things you can see that you can't see on the film. How is he on the sidelines? He may be the best player in the world in a game but he may come off the field, take his helmet off, go to a knee and not talk to anybody else during the game. You would want to find out why he separates himself from the other players. You also want to find out what kind of leader he is to the rest of the players. Verbally, is he leading the team? And if you have only seen him on a highlight film, you won't see how a game may changes when he is in the game. You can see that in a live game. Nothing compares to seeing a kid in person."

Last year at this time Mississippi State had more commitments than they do this year. What is the reason behind that?
"You really can't compare year to year because it's different every year. Sometimes there is a ring leader, a certain kid, that jumps on board that all the other recruits know about. And that kid might call a lot of other top recruits about coming to Mississippi State with him. And sometimes when you come off a successful season, that might get momentum going a little quicker.

"But it doesn't matter whether they commit March of their junior year or commit later because you still have to recruit them like they not committed. Of the 12 to 15 guys that we had committed before the end of the summer, 10 to 12 of them were being recruited harder than ever by us in January just to make sure they were still coming here.

"Early commitments are nice because it lets you know you are number 1 at the time. And that's always a good feeling. A good way to look at it is you are number 1 right now but you have to work hard to stay number 1."

How will the 28 signing limit rule affect Mississippi State?
"You'll have to be very careful when it comes to kids who are borderline when it comes to academics. You probably won't bring in as many of those type guys as you have in the past. I think it will affect the kids who are close to qualifying more than it will the kids who have no chance to quality. That means there will be more guys for junior colleges to recruit that didn't sign with (a four-year college)."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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