The last time that Mike Sherman was recruiting high school football players to Texas A&M, Cingular was still just a vision, much less the merge with AT&T. Back then, he carried a handful of change (when pay phones were still $.25) to call recruits on the road, hoping to catch them at home for a visit.
While, Sherman may still be learning about Bluetooth technology, he's worked hard to get up to speed on the recruiting trail.
"The whole process is sped up," said Associate Athletic Director for Football Tim Cassidy. "This was an eye opening experience for Mike to come in and say ‘Tim, can you tell me why I have to offer this 16 year old kid when they're only a junior and I just got here and I haven't even seen the kid play his junior year?' Two weeks ago we had our first junior orientation day and it fell during recruiting. We had 45 young men on campus and we were already making a move towards that."
This spring, Cassidy said that A&M will host unofficial visitors nearly every weekend.
"Typically this time a year, some of us have planned on going out of town a couple of days, but we will spend every afternoon evaluating tape of junior prospects. I've even got Mike to the point where he came back the other day and said he saw a great sophomore prospect. We're identifying those kinds of kids that just jump out at you."
Another major change that Sherman has at his disposal this time around is the state-of-the-art Bright Complex—the Taj Mahal of football facilities in the country— a new indoor practice facility, and substantial improvements to Kyle Field over the past three years.
"Two years ago when I was on the sideline of the game when Nebraska played here against A&M, even the atmosphere at the game, which I didn't think could get much better than when I left, was outstanding," Cassidy said. "The ribbon boards, the whole atmosphere, the crowd participation, they've made it if not the best venue in college football, certainly one of the top two or three."
WHAT SHERMAN IS SELLING
Cassidy and Sherman both acknowledged that Texas A&M is a university that sells itself because of the great education that the school offers and it's proximity to so many talented prospects.
"Most of our recruiting base is in the state of Texas, most of our recruits are within three or four hours from College Station," Cassidy said. "When I was in Lincoln, we were selling kids who were coming in on 3-4 hour airplane rides. It's a lot easier to sell a mother in Dallas to come here and see their son play football for seven home games and when we play at Baylor, or Texas or when we start playing against the University of Arkansas, they can drive in and see the game without too much of an expense."
And while location and academics play a big part in a recruit's decision, showing prospects what Sherman and his staff can do to take them to the next level is Cassidy's number one objective.
"A lot of times people talk about the NFL or the next level and it scares some people because they say, ‘Shouldn't we be talking to them about getting a great education?' Cassidy said. "We certainly talk to them about a great education, but we want our guys to see themselves being the best offensive lineman in the country and being the first player picked in the NFL draft. I don't think if you talk to anyone in our business school, they all want to be a CEO, or CFO or own their own company. I think that's the same correlation to the kind of guys we're recruiting to come here.
"To think that Tom Rossley has coached Warren Moon and Brett Favre, I think that will make us a very attractive place (for QBs). The fact that Randy Jordan played nine years in the NFL, I think that makes us a very attractive place for RBs to want to come to Texas A&M. It's a big big selling point to be coached by guys who have reached that level."
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Cassidy discusses A&M recruiting
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