A front Line look at the 04 recruiting class

We wanted to get an honest look at recruiting from a coach who is on the front lines of the process everyday as DeForest is. The Cowboys' special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach is one of the top recruiting coaches in the nation. DeForest has built an outstanding reputation that has only grown during his time with Oklahoma State.

Last season Joe DeForest recruited the likes of Brad Girtman, Marque Fountain, Ricky Coxeff, Grant Jones, Jeremy Nethon and Calvin Roberts. In this recruiting class Deforest recruited quarterback Robert Reid, linebacker Roderick Johnson and defensive tackle Walter Thomas.

OSSR: Describe the atmosphere in recruiting this year? DeForest: I think each year is different, each kid is different, and the focus we had this year was different. We went after big name players, almost exclusively. We got some and didn't get some. I do think we got enough of the players we wanted that we fulfilled our needs. I'm not sure that I answered your question or that was the answer you were looking for.

OSSR: No, we were thinking more the landscape of recruiting now. Is recruiting more difficult now than it used to be? DeForest: Yes, no doubt, because we spend less time with the players because of the rules. The Internet has killed it because there is so much information out there. It doesn't matter what the source of the information is, people believe it. Kids believe it, alumni and fans, athletic directors and university presidents. Recruiting gets coaches in trouble because of all the Internet rankings and evaluations of prospects by Internet recruiting experts. If you aren't in on the five-star guys then you aren't doing it right. If you are recruiting a two-star player then he can't play. You have all these people that think they are experts. Our job is to find the players that fit our school, fit our scheme. I think we as coaches are better judges of which players fit our needs and which ones are talented and which ones are not. Every situation is not just mom and dad. You go into situations where you have a stepmom and then you have to go meet the stepdad, all kinds of family situations that you have to deal with, and to a degree, your job depends on how well you communicate with these different family situations and a 17 or 18-year-old football player.

These kids and their families are getting hammered. Take a big time recruit. He'll get 100 phone calls a night while he's still trying to decide where he is going to go. Then after he makes the decision it'll drop down to 50 calls a night. He's called by coaches, recruiting publications, media, Web sites, and school publications. It's not just the recruit that takes these calls, but the families. How much of what he is saying to these people is true, and how much is he just telling them what he thinks they want to hear in order to get them off the phone. A situation that came up with us was with Walter Thomas. Despite what was reported, he never wavered. His cousin, Roderick Johnson was already here at OSU. He never wavered despite what the Internet reported, but people believed what was reported. You ask Walter and he'll tell you he never wavered. Another thing is all these reports about super recruiting coaches. I truly believe that our job as coaches is to get the prospect interested. No coach gets a kid. At OSU our players like Marque Fountain and Trumain Carroll have more to do with it. These guys and the recruits talk real with each other. We bring them here and the next 48 hours they spend more time with our players than we will spend with them the entire recruiting period. If your kids are happy and convey that then you'll get the recruit. If they are not happy, those recruits will know it, and you won't get them.

OSSR: How do you deal with the competition in recruiting? DeForest: I never bring up another school. I talk about Oklahoma State and the situation the recruit could have at Oklahoma State if he were to come here. This is what we have to sell, and it's the best situation there is. My rules, sell yourself and sell the school.

OSSR: What to you is most fun about recruiting? DeForest: Getting to know the kids on a personal basis is what I enjoy the best. Phone calls are the least fun part of recruiting. You call up a prospect and you may be his eighth phone call of the evening and the recruit is just looking to get off the phone so he can watch a TV show or a game. I've learned to get a feel for that. I just prefer going into the home to meet the parents and I'm sure they do us, because we're going to become like foster parents to their kid.

OSSR: How important is evaluation? DeForest: The most important thing. I think evaluation early is critical. If you are not looking at juniors toward the end of the fall.evaluation, and have an early line on a number of players, than you can go ahead and offer them. If you are on time with an offer then you are late. The earlier you can get an offer to a kid that you want then the better your opportunity to get them. Most of the time you are dealing with easy ones. You have to cultivate a list, then get ahead on evaluation and get those prospects in front of head coach and the position coach, and then get those players offered.

OSSR: Which kind of personality do you prefer in a recruit, low key or flamboyant? DeForest: Robert Reid is a great example. He's probably the most high profile and most humble kid I've ever dealt with. If there ever was a recruit that had reason to be flamboyant it was him. He was almost embarrassed by all the attention in recruiting. He handled it so well. Mom and Dad handled it all well. They knew about recruiting, knew the rules, and didn't want a handout. It was enjoyable dealing with them because they were up front and honest and always communicated well. Everybody understood the situation and what was going on. It made it very easy.

OSSR: We see so much more team recruiting with several coaches involved on a recruit. What do you think of team recruiting? DeForest: I think it is important on specific kids. For example on an offensive lineman I might be recruiting, the more I can get Coach Moller, his position coach, to see him the more comfortable he'll feel. The two guys that a recruit identifies with are the recruiting coach and the position coach. There's the head coach too, but skipping ahead to the freshman year a recruit always comes back to the recruiting or position coach because those are the guys he feels most close to. I think it is a great way to recruit to get a linebacker around Coach Clay or a safety with Coach Mallory. It makes it easier in the transition.

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