Prospective Players Look For The Best

There are many reasons why a student-athlete picks a particular school. Impressive facilities are one reason, and for some players, it is a major factor. Minnesota and Indiana are a pair of schools hoping new facilities will mean better recruiting results.

When it comes to recruiting, Ohio State has the advantage of having some of the best facilities in the Big Ten and the nation. Prospective athletes visit Columbus and see the Buckeyes play in one of the best college football stadiums in America, as well as get the chance to check out the recently renovated and state-of-the-art Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

For some players, relationships they build with potential teammates and coaches are the main reason they pick a certain school. That does not mean having great facilities don't help a school's cause.

"Definitely the facilities are one (reason to pick a school)," OSU senior linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "You walk onto the indoor field at Ohio State and see all the bowl game and national championship banners up there, and it's something special. … We're blessed here. We have some of the best stuff you can get."

Building some of that "best stuff" can help a school turn its fortunes around. An example of this is what Tim Brewster is trying to do as head coach at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers will move into a new, open-air stadium in 2009. TCF Bank Stadium will not only host Minnesota's games, but will also house a private recruiting room that can accommodate 150 people.

Brewster took advantage of his team's improving facilities and hauled in a top-30 recruiting class this spring that included six four-star athletes - quarterbacks MarQueis Gray and David Pittman, wide receivers Brandon Green and Vince Hill, cornerback Traye Simmons and linebacker Rex Sharpe. Brewster said the new facilities made his job easier on the recruiting trail.

"Without question our financial commitment at the University of Minnesota has been very important to our recruiting success," Brewster said. "Kids want to see a financial commitment. When they come on visits, they want to see good facilities because when they go other places that's what they see."

Brewster's quarterback, Adam Weber, agreed that new facilities can help the Golden Gophers compete.

"(The new facilities) show that the school invests in the football program," he said. "They see that it's vital to have a good football program. Ohio State has great facilities, and Minnesota is in the process of getting there.

"Knowing we were going to get a new stadium helped me a lot (in choosing Minnesota). Now that the stadium is being built, kids are going to have to be impressed. I drive by it every day, and it always gives me goosebumps. Maybe it's because I'm a fan, but I would like to think it is because it is going to be such a great stadium. It has to definitely help in the recruiting process."

Another school going through a facility upgrade is Indiana. The north end zone of Memorial Stadium will be the site of a 100,000 square-foot athletic facility. Indiana head coach Bill Lynch said the most important part of the new facility is the 24,000 square-foot strength and conditioning center near the new football offices.

"We have not been able to lift our whole football team together at one time, ever," Lynch said. "Our weight room has not been big enough. We have had to lift our guys in shifts forever. We have a better chance at developing chemistry if we're all working together."

Like Brewster, Lynch said having a facility upgrade should help with recruiting.

"We all like nice things," he said. "I really think when something's new, nice, bright and clean, a kid can visualize getting to experience that, and it's a big help. Especially versus something old, dark and dirty. The kids are going to benefit and I think recruits see that vs. if you're just building suites or something.

"Recruits don't visualize themselves sitting in a suite. They visualize a new weight room or a big and spacious academic center."

Whether fancy facilities actually help a school land a recruit depends on the athlete. Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bachér said he overlooked facilities when he was picking a school.

"It was not as important as it should have been," Bachér said. "I kind of got around the guys at Northwestern and I love the camaraderie of the guys we have here. That was the main reason I came here. I didn't realize how much we were going to be around the facilities. Facilities are a big deal. I love our facilities, but I really didn't put a big emphasis on it."

And for some players, facilities are not important in the least.

"I honestly wasn't impressed with (Wisconsin's) facilities that much (when I was being recruited)," Wisconsin linebacker DeAndre Levy said. "They're getting a bunch of new stuff and starting new construction next year. That should help, but I wasn't impressed with the facilities too much. I came here to play football and win games."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories