What makes a good college football recruiter?
It's more than just being a good salesman.
Of course you need to have to good people skills. As a recruiter, you have to be able to communicate well with today's athlete.
I asked Doug Marrone once what made him a good recruiter. His response – "I listen to what they say."
That's important because the hard sell can't always be on. These kids must be heard.
A good recruiter will identify who's in the prospect's ear and who's in their inner circle? Is it mom, dad, a sibling, aunt, uncle or coach? It could be a friend or teammate. A good recruiter will recruit these people just as hard as the recruit.
And of course, a good recruiter has to work it and I mean work it hard each and every day. Nowadays, there are no days off when it comes to recruiting.
Of course when it comes to college football, recruiting is only half the battle. Once you sign them and get them on campus, its then time to develop them as players and young men. There's that old saying "it take a village to raise a child." That also holds true when you build a college football program because it takes an entire staff/program to develop each player.
Some programs are better at that than others. Some programs don't sign the high end, high profiled four and five-star recruits. That's why a good recruiter can identify and evaluate talent. A good recruiter can spot a diamond in the rough, knowing that down the line, they can develop into a good college football player. A good recruiter doesn't care about the stars next to a player's name.
A good recruiter has all of these traits.
That's what made this exercise so fun. I took a look at the previous three NFL Drafts and the 763 selections to specifically find the lead recruiter on each when they came out of high school and signed with their respective schools. This is a testament to their recruiting skills as well as the programs ability to develop talent.
Below is a list of nine college assistant coaches that made the cut with the most draftees, combining the NFL Drafts of 2012, 2013 and 2014. You will see some familiar names and you will see some surprise names.
I like to call them the Recruiting Assassins.
Wilson is the LSU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He has been with the Tigers since 2010. Wilson recruited seven players that were drafted earlier this month - Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry, Trai Turner, Alfred Blue, and James Wright. Wilson recruited two the year before - Tyrann Mathieu and Spencer Ware. I recently spoke to Ed Orgeron about Wilson. Orgeron was his mentor. I asked coach O what makes Wilson such a good recruiter. He simply stated that "Frank Wilson has it all." There's no doubt in my mind that Wilson is a rising star. He's only 40 years old. He's from New Orleans St. Augustine High School and was coached locally there at O. Perry Walker. No one recruits the state of Louisiana better. You will see his name pop up more and more. Just wait until you see this last season's crop of kids he signed enter the NFL Draft in a few years.
Thompson has been an assistant coaching veteran in the South since the late 80s. He spent most of his early coaching years at Georgia Tech under George O'Leary. He then had coaching stints at Alabama, LSU, and Central Florida. Thompson spent three seasons at Tennessee before returning to the Crimson Tide for the third time. In this exercise he recruited players drafted from both Tennessee and Alabama. Thompson had drafted players earlier this month that he was responsible for in Daniel McCullers (Tennessee), C.J. Mosley, and A.J. McCarron. In 2013, he recruited draftees D.J. Fluker and Nico Johnson. In 2012, Thompson recruited picks Malik Jackson (Tennessee), Mark Barron, and Trent Richardson. That's an impressive list of drafted players over the last three drafts for this Alabama linebacker's coach.
Everyone knows in the state of Florida that James Coley has always been an excellent recruiter. Coley, now the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami, did his recruiting damage here while serving as an assistant coach at Florida State. He responsible for the Seminole signings Lamarcus Joyner and Kelvin Benjamin, who were both drafted earlier this month. In the 2013 draft class, he recruited Dustin Hopkins, Xavier Rhodes, and Bjorn Werner. Coley recruited 2012 draftees Michael Harris and Andrew Datkow to FSU. He also recruited T.Y. Hilton while he was at FIU. Hilton was drafted in 2012.
Like Coley above, Horton recruited future NFL Draft picks when he was at another school – Arkansas. With the Razorbacks, Horton was the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He recruited 2014 draft pick Zack Hocker for the Razorbacks and was part of a group effort to land Chris Smith. Tyler Wilson, Chris Gragg, and Knile Davis were all recruited by Horton for the Razorbacks and part of the 2013 draft class. The year before, he was responsible for signing Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Greg Childs. They were all drafted in 2012.
Vanderlinden is one of the surprise names on this list. He spent 13 seasons at Penn State and was the Nittany Lions linebacker coach. He was responsible for recruiting 2014 draft picks Allen Robinson and Khari Fort. 2013 draft picks Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges were Vanderlinden recruits to Happy Valley. Vanderlinden recruits Devon Still, Johnny Troutman, and Jack Crawford were all drafted in 2012. He is now serving as the inside linebackers coach at Air Force.
Bostad did quite well at Wisconsin, where he served as the Badgers run game coordinator, offensive line coach and tight ends coach over a period of six years. He's from Pardeeville, Wisconsin and primarily recruited in-state, where he knocked it out of the park. Six of his seven recruits listed below were all from the state of Wisconsin. This is a testament to his eye for talent and the Badgers exceptional player development. Bostad recruited Beau Allen, who was drafted earlier this month. In 2013, he was responsible for the signings of drafts picks Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner. Kevin Zeitler, Peter Konz, Bradie Ewing, and Brad Nortman were all recruits of Bostad who were drafted in 2012. Bostad spent last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's now the offensive line coach for the Tennessee Titans.
Rob Ianello did quite well on the recruiting trail while at Notre Dame. There, he recruited 2014 draft picks Chris Watt, T.J. Jones, and Zack Martin. Ianello landed a big one in the 2013 draft class in Tyler Eifert. The year before, he was responsible for 2012 draftees Darius Fleming and Michael Floyd. Ianello is no longer with the Fighting Irish. He's currently at the University of Kansas. Ianello is now the Director of Research for the program after spending two seasons as the Jayhawks wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.
Rodney Garner spent 15 years in Athens as the UGA defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. He has always been regarded as one of the top recruiters in the nation. He has put a ton of players in the NFL and five over the past three draft classes. In 2013, Garner recruited draft picks John Jenkins and Alex Ogletree to Georgia. DeAngelo Tyson, Cordy Glenn, and Brandon Boykin were all 2012 draftees that Garner signed while with the Bulldogs. Garner has returned for his second stint at Auburn, his alma mater. Garner is the Tigers defensive line coach.
Many may not realize that Addazio was one of many really good recruiters on the Urban Meyer staff at the University of Florida. Dominique Easley, Jon Halopio, and Jaylen Watkins were all drafted earlier this month and were Addazio recruits. The year before Jordan Reed and Shariff Floyd were 2013 draftees that Addazio signed while at Florida. While in Gainesville he served as the offensive line coach and then offensive coordinator. Since he left the program, Addazio has been on the fast track. He was the head coach at Temple for two seasons and is now the head coach Boston College.
Coming tomorrow in this series of looking at the past three NFL Drafts is part five. On Friday I will look at the University of Texas and their decline in the NFL Draft over this time.Part 1, Draft Stats
Part 2, South Florida Express Way
Part 3, Conference Breakdown