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What a Freshman Recruit Can Expect on Sunday
By Bob Chmiel
For The IrishEyes.Com NewsService
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE) --There is always great preparation and anticipation as a football coaching staff awaits the arrival of the incoming freshman class. For Bob Davie and his staff, Sunday will be a day fraught with this anticipation as 19 freshmen recruits are scheduled to arrive in advance of their first day of practice on Monday.
The moment concludes a journey that in some cases began over two years prior to the reporting date. From the standpoint of the recruit and his parents, it is time for the reality of leaving home.
Summer is over and it is time to fulfill the academic and athletic responsibilities that the commitment made in February bind them to. Each recruit is different. Some are sincerely excited to get started, some are anxious, but in any event the unknown is always difficult.
In advance of the arrival, the coaching staff will review this recruiting class time and again in meetings. The assistant coach who was the lead person in the recruiting process of the particular recruit will be called upon to report his most recent communication with the signee and his family. Although no problems are anticipated the staff will not breathe easy until the young man actually walks into the football office.
When I was recruiting coordinator at Michigan and Notre Dame, I developed a grid which included: 1) Name of prospect, 2) Mode of transportation (If a flight, name of airline number of flight, time of arrival.) 3) Estimated arrival time on campus, 4) Who will accompany recruit, 5) Will the family stay for dinner? Number for dinner (guests), 6) Special situations, 7) Recruiting coach. I copied this grid on the board in the staff room. As each recruit arrived on campus I put a red line through his name. It was always a relief to see all the names crossed with a red line.
As the recruits arrive, usually between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm, they would be greeted by me personally. I would wait for them outside of the football office. I always made a point of hanging a welcome banner with the University logo. The victory march will be playing in the football office. Each young man and his family receive a packet of information with an itinerary, a press guide, a list of important numbers, and any pertinent academic information.
The coaching staff is dressed in game day uniform, and the entire atmosphere is upbeat and positive, Each family is assigned a student manager. The student managers are also dressed in game day attire. The manager will take the families through this day which includes: 1.) The issuing of equipment;2.) A meeting with the trainers and team doctor; 3.) The entire move into the dorm; 4.) If the parents were not on the recruiting visit a campus tour may also be provided.
The value of the managers on this day is priceless. When these administrative duties are complete the next scheduled event is dinner. Parents and guests are invited to attend dinner at the Dining Hall. But by N.C.A.A. regulations they must cover the cost of the meal.
At dinner the head coach will address the group and once again introduce the staff, and perhaps have each freshman introduce himself and his family. Upon conclusion of dinner, there is a brief period for the young men to visit with their families and get through their good-byes. This is difficult, it is the last step in the process between high school prospect, high school student, living at home to collegiate football player, college student and dorm resident.
The young men now walk as a group to their first meeting as college football players. It is approximately 7:30 pm. For me this was always a very emotional time. Some years I would walk with them. I often thought and wondered if they at all realized the journey they were about to embark upon. I had made this journey as over twenty times.
Personally, it goes by all too quickly. Watching N.F.L. Europe and Jarious Jackson, I think about the first call I made to him, it was like yesterday!
Next: First football meeting, fist night on campus, first day of practice.
(This is the first in a series by Bob Chmiel, former recruiting coordinator at Michigan and at Notre Dame; and the only recruiting coordinator to bring two No. 1 classes to two Division 1A programs. Coach Chmiel will be a regular contributor to IrishEyes and TheInsiders.Com Sports Network.).