Having the gift of gab can certainly help, but it’s not the most important thing when it comes to recruiting, Nichol said.
“This a simple answer but I think it holds true – just a guy that works really, really hard,” said Nichol. “That’s great if you can ‘talk’ and all those kinds of things, I get that. But it’s always funny to me when someone has a great conversation with a coach and it's like, ‘Ah, this is a great recruiter.’ Well, yes but working your tail off and knowing how to evaluate tape… writing letters and keeping up with them, to me that’s what it is."
Nichol also said it's certainly a big benefit for a coach to have been entrenched in a recruiting territory for years. But at the same time, there is just no substitute for being a grinder.
“It’s great that I’ve been in California before but you know what, schools are schools, airports are airports. The best recruiters to me are the hardest workers, typically... I had Atlanta (as a territory) at East Carolina and I'd never been to Atlanta in my life... But I worked really hard and I got some good kids."
Nichol recruited California for four years as an assistant at Arizona (2008-11). It’s not set in stone but it sounds like he’ll slide into former outside WRs coach Graham Harrell’s territories for the final recruiting stretch run this class with Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno among the hot spots.
“I think that’s the plan, and I had worked those when I was at Arizona,” said Nichol. “I had Fresno, Bakersfield… had a big chunk of LA -- and then positionally recruiting, I ended up going all over the state…We’re still kinda working through some of that but I think initially I will definitely try to see obviously some of the outside guys receiver-wise first, and then kinda nail down my territory.”
Nichol said there are certain things he looks for, whether he’s recruiting an outside wideout or a defensive tackle.
“For me, it’s always been and it starts with recruiting and there are a few things you try to find -- and a few things I try to coach,” said Nichol. “Do they love football? Because I think you’ve got to love football. It’s not an easy game. And are they tough? If they play hard in practice and lift and go to class and all those things, with them loving football and it being important to them, and they’re tough on the field, then all the rest of it kinda takes care of itself."
And hard work by definition includes extra work, said Nichol.
“There are two things we as coaches don’t like: kids that don’t do what we ask them to do, and then kids that ONLY do what we ask them to do,” said Nichol.
The final three weeks of recruiting a signing class can get wild. When that final contact period opens back up, as it does on Thursday, recent years have been marked by a large volume in commitment flips (and also assistant coaches flipping schools too).
“When it comes down to the wire, it’s crazy,” said Nichol. “Unfortunately for many high school kids, they think if an adult is telling them something, then it’s true. And that’s how you get in some of the battles towards the end. I’ve been in so many situations where it’s like, ‘Look, so-and-so, what he told you is just completely wrong.’ You’d be shocked at some of the stuff.”
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