Recruiting Confidential: Part 1

Ever wonder if the service academies really do all offer the same players? Not sure if extra time off in December led to more time on the recruiting trail for Navy's coaches? Want to know whether or not Big East rumors are helping Navy land BCS-caliber players? Navy recruiting coordinator Dale Pehrson addresses everything you've ever wanted to know (and more) about Navy recruiting.

Service Academy recruiting isn't exactly the most well publicized aspect of the college football offseason. In fact, one might even go so far to say that the true story is as tightly guarded as a Pentagon secret. That is, until now. In Part 1 of's exclusive four part series, I sit down with Navy recruiting coach Dale Pehrson to get the answers on all the pressing questions on the recruiting front.

Note: "AN" is GoMids writer Adam Nettina, while "DP" is coach Dale Pehrson.

AN: First time since 2002 in which the team didn't have a bowl game to prepare for. How did that affect your recruiting schedule in December? Were you able to get more done and see more recruits?

DP: It wasn't that big of a difference because it's usually a dead period during that time anyway. We got a couple of days out that we probably wouldn't have gotten had we gone to a bowl game, but most of the time that's dead. The bowl game doesn't affect that as much as having the Army game a week later.

AN: Did the extra time give you a chance to evaluate any prospects for 2013 or get ahead in other recruiting matters?

DP: We'll start doing that more as we get into this year. Right now we've pretty much evaluated who we're recruiting. For us, all along the way we'll probably find some guys – they'll probably be some guys who possibly think they're going somewhere but they'll end up getting dropped or not going to that school. Most of the guys we know about at this point though.

AN: A lot of recruits I've talked to have talked about the Big East, and how a possible Navy move to the conference in football would be a significant attraction for them. Is that something the Navy assistants are really working to promote on the trail, and what have the early returns been?

DP: We're probably mentioning it…I don't know how far along it is so it's a little dangerous to mention that that is what's happening. But I realize it would be a big draw. To be able to play in that type of conference would really make a difference. AN: What about the "A Game of Honor" documentary from Showtime? There has been some discussion that that might significantly improve recruiting (read GoMids' David Ausiello's review here). Has the increased exposure helped you and the staff at all?

DP: I think that has been a really big selling point. Anytime you can get your program in front of young guys that's going to be a big seller. Most of the guys I'm recruiting have watched it – in fact, most of them have taped it and watched it several times. The Army game obviously is a gigantic selling point. Almost all of them will watch that. We had about 20 recruits at the Army game, which if you can get them to that it's a pretty good selling point. There's nothing like it. Even if the guys have been to other games throughout the year, and then they come to that one, it's a pretty special environment. So it's gigantic, and just having it nationally televised is big. An again, most of the guys I've recruited or that I'm in contact with have watched it and we get really positive returns on that.

AN: Most Navy fans have always taken for granted the idea Army, Navy, and Air Force are competing for the same recruits, but if you read many of the online articles, it sometimes seems like that isn't the case anymore. What's the real story, and what percentage of recruits in the mix have offers from all three – or at least two – of the service academies.

DP: It's probably a pretty high percentage, depending on the area. Like coach (Steve) Johns in California, he's going to cross Air Force a lot more than Army, although Army is out there. Pennsylvania, New Jersey – I'm going to cross Army a lot more than I'm going to cross Air Force. Texas is a blend of both probably, while the Midwest is probably a blend of all three because everybody kind of hits that. It kind of depends on the area for who you're ‘mostly' going against, but most of the academies will be involved somewhat in all three places. A lot of kids will either be sold on one, two (academies)…they'll rarely be sold on all three academies. There's something they'll like about this one or that one, but they will probably have offers from all three.

AN: Another service academy recruiting maxim – if you will – is that Navy picks up a lot of guys who only have Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or Division II offers, and seldom have other Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) offers. We've seen a few players commit to Navy over the past few years with other FBS and in some cases BCS offers though. Are you finding a general increase in this trend?

DP: More FBS and very few BCS. It's possible though. Those are the kinds of guys that, number one, are probably a kid who doesn't think like a lot of kids out there. They're looking for something more out of their academics and looking to serve their country. A kid like Jeff Battapaglia was that kind of guy – he had several BCS offers but decided to come here because that's what he wanted to do, he wanted to serve his country. They're sort of kids who are looking for maybe something more than just the football side of it. There are those guys out there; you just got to find them. The I-AA guys, usually those are guys who want to play Division 1 (FBS). Take Jabaree Tuani. He had two or three I-AA offers, but he wanted to play against the best. We were the perfect fit for him because we're going to play a great schedule obviously and he was going to get a chance to test himself against some of the best players in the country. That's kind of what sold him. There are different reasons for guys wanting to go to the Academy – some want to go Division 1, some want to be able to serve their country, but there are good players at every level. A lot of people don't realize, but with the scholarships being cut back over the years – what it used to be not that long ago was 120 then it was 90-something – there are 10 or 20 kids right there who used to get I-A scholarships who aren't anymore. So when you talk I-AA sometimes that I-AA guy now was a Division 1 guy 10 years ago. Those are the guys we're trying to find.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our interview with coach Pehrson, coming Friday! Top Stories