SMU lost five commitments from it's 2012 class (plus one from the 2013 group) who were all recruited by Adrian Klemm (now at UCLA). So what made Klemm so effective as a recruiter? Why did all of his California kids, who were at one point so excited to come play football in Texas, decide to stay on the West Coast?
FOX Sports/Scout.com's National Football Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman weighs in:
Laken Litman: Ever since June Jones was all but actually named the head coach at Arizona State and Adrian Klemm left for a job with UCLA, SMU's impressive 2012 recruiting class has diminished. All of Klemm's California recruits have de-committed from SMU and not all are even going play for UCLA. Why do you think these guys would rather play somewhere else instead of SMU?
Brandon Huffman: I think Klemm was the natural draw for them to SMU. Being a West Coast guy in Dallas, he was that familiar face they would have. With him gone, who was going to be that guy for them? For them to commit to SMU showed Klemm's ability to relate and connect, and pulling them out of Southern California was no small feat. But when he left, that allowed them to have second thoughts.
BH: It's huge, because all were impact players. All had Pac-12 offers and chose to play at SMU. They bought in and would have gotten on the field early, especially Marks and Lewis.
LL: Four former SMU commits (Marks, Lewis, Palacio and Khalil Pettway) changed their allegiance to Washington State. Why do you think they chose the Cougars and a small town over the Mustangs and the big city and market of Dallas? Do you think it's conference affiliation? Wanting to be closer to home? Does Mike Leach have a really good spiel?
BH: I think it's a combination of things: Mike Leach loves to throw the ball (Just like June Jones does), it's on the West Coast and its in the Pac-12, the conference most of these guys dreamed of playing in.
LL: What is it about Klemm that recruits like so much? Obviously the players he recruits aren't all offensive linemen so they don't get to be coached by him on a daily basis, but as we've seen with SMU's 2012 class, these guys de-committed partly because he's not here anymore.
BH: He's young, he's energetic, he gets today's modern athlete, because not too long ago, HE was that guy. He's got the rings, he's got the ties to SoCal, and the ability to say "I left Southern California for college, had the chance to play for June Jones, and look where it got me."
LL: After almost leaving, what do you think June Jones had to tell recruits to convince them to stay committed to SMU and to get new ones?
BH: "I'm a West Coast guy that appeared to have an opportunity to return to my roots and it was tough to pass up. But I'm here now and wanting to continue to build a winner. We won our bowl game despite losing coaches, so I'm here for the long haul."
LL: What did Klemm bring to the table at SMU that was so important for the program?
BH: Energy, credibility as a player, the recruiting juice and more importantly, the passion to recruit.
LL: Despite December's coaching chaos, SMU is still a program on the rise. The Mustangs won their bowl game, they're headed to the Big East in 2013 and although they lost quite a handful of talent from this recruiting class, it's still a solid group. SMU recently hired Jason Phillips away from Houston to be its main recruiter. What does this program need from Phillips/in a recruiting coach in general to make sure the classes only get better from here on out?
BH: Continue to recruit OUTSIDE of Texas. What made Klemm so effective was that SMU was a new school, new concept to West Coast kids. Kids in Texas may not appreciate it, but kids out West know how big football in Texas is. And he sold them on that.
LL: For a small private school like SMU, it's hard to recruit in Texas when you have schools like UT, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, etc. getting anyone they want. What can SMU do to make a larger recruiting footprint in the state?
BH: Keep winning, put guys in the NFL and most importantly succeed when they get to the Big East.
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