Butch Davis: What to Expect In Recruiting

The Butch Davis era at North Carolina will begin at the end of November, and most Tar Heel fans expect a big name coach to yield immediate results in recruiting. If history is an indication, Davis' tenure at Miami shows that his recruiting approach will be far different from what Tar Heel fans have recently grown accustomed to.

While John Bunting and his staff offered many prospects very early in the process and routinely offered over one hundred players in a recruiting class, Davis was extremely selective at Miami.

"The way his offers worked was the area coach would have to approve, then the position coach, then the coordinator, and then him," said Mike Bakas, Florida recruiting analyst for Scout.com. "He was tough, didn't offer many. Things will probably be different at UNC [initially] because of some of the advantages he established at UM, but a lot of his assistant coaches had their requests get shot down.

"For example, a kid in Jacksonville would have to be OK'ed by his area coach. Then his position coach would have to OK it, then the coordinator, and then Butch. At Miami, they never offered a kid without seeing him in person."

With the program under probation when he arrived, Davis got creative and looked for versatile players, while maintaining his selective approach.

"When UM was on probation, he found ways to bring guys in on track scholarships (Santana Moss), academic scholarships (Joaquin Gonzalez), and he signed several kids who deferred admission until the following year. He was always finding ways to get kids in. When numbers were low, rarely did he recruit kids who were iffy on grades. When he started recruiting 25 a year, that's when he started taking some chances because he could afford to.

"He loved kids who played multiple sports. That would always be one of his first questions to assistants bringing him an offer request. He also wanted kids who played on both sides of the ball. And he put a huge emphasis on character."

Davis used that philosophy to find some of his biggest diamonds in the rough, which was something he had to rely on early during his tenure at Miami. Many of his first-round draft picks came with just a handful of offers.

"He will dig up sleepers," said. "I'm not sure how much he will now since the Internet has changed the face of recruiting, but he'll often recruit a kid that makes you go ‘Who?' Chances are, you can trust him."

The numbers seem to back that up. In five full recruiting classes at Miami, he had 93 scholarships to give out, Bakas said. Those five classes produced 41 NFL draft picks, that's over eight per year and included 21 first-rounders. Every time, Davis and his coaching staff had a certain type of player they targeted for each position.

"For skill-position spots he wants guys who are playmakers," Bakas said. "He rarely recruited short kids. He likes height. He liked his guys playing two to three sports and speed was always number one in evaluations. Offensive line and defensive line he liked tall kids. Most of the offensive line recruits played defensive line in high school because he wanted athletes. Back then, he preferred the athletic 265 kid who you can make 295 as opposed to the sloppy 320 kid. "

Interestingly enough, the biggest recruiting hole in his time at Miami was a position that seems to elude North Carolina often – the big-time quarterback.

"Surpringly, he didn't recruit well at quarterback," Bakas said. "Even many of the kids they offered and lost out on didn't turn out to be that good in college. That trend has continued under Coker so it may change if he gets a top offensive coordinator and quarterback coach."

One elite quarterback, however, is already in the fold. Mike Paulus, who ranks in the top ten nationally, is ready to play for Davis. "I'm real, real excited about it – I can't wait," Paulus said. "It's going to be a powerhouse in one or two years – I know it is."

Ask Scout.com national analyst Jamie Newberg about Davis' track record and he says the results speak for themselves. "The bottom line is that he restored Miami," Newberg said. "They may not have been rated as the highest classes in the nation, but he and his staff had a great eye for talent."


First-round draft picks coached or recruited by Davis in six seasons as head coach at Miami:
Ray Lewis (LB), Yatil Green (WR), Kennard Lang (DE), Kenny Holmes (DE), Duane Starks (CB), Edgerrin James (RB), Bubba Franks (TE), Dan Morgan (LB), Damion Lewis (DT), Santana Moss (WR), Reggie Wayne (WR), Bryant McKinnie (OT), Jeremy Shockey (TE), Phillip Buchannon (CB), Ed Reed (S), Mike Rumph (CB), Andre Johnson (WR), Jerome McDougle (DE, Willis McGahee (RB), William Joseph (DT), Sean Taylor (S), Kellen Winslow (TE), Jonathan Vilma (LB), D.J. Williams (LB), Vernon Carey (OT), Vince Wilfork (DT), Antrel Rolle (CB), Kelly Jennings (CB)

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