Looking past stars: what I like about Jags-era recruiting
I do my best not to get emotionally invested in recruiting news. Past experience has me hardened to the flawed rankings and the gossip sold as news by the major sites. It’s a long was from wooing a high school kid to the ACC championship. Staying somewhat detached from recruiting keeps things in perspective.
What does interest me is where the staff recruits and how they sell BC. BC is not for everyone. The program remains a unique niche and it is up to Jags and his staff to sell that niche -- and not themselves or the opportunity to go to the NFL. When you sell the coach or -- as Jags often references -- the fancy weight room, you are setting the student up for disappointment. Jags might not be here in five year, but BC will. Regardless of their success on the field, these kids are going to be BC students and future alumni. That should mean something to us, the current students and alumni. Therefore, I am thrilled when I hear the recruits spout off these points:
"Great mix of academics and athletics." This is our most important selling point. We respect the student and give them great support to graduate. It also attracts the type of kid who can see the big picture.
"Northern school playing big time football." One of the most misguided criticisms BC took during the ACC expansion was that we would be out of place in our new conference. The ACC gives BC another distinct recruiting pitch. We are the lone school in the northeast that allows a guy to play in front of friends and family, yet also take on teams like Florida State, Clemson and Miami. The Big East teams cannot claim our level of attention. Penn State has a similar position to BC...fortunately we never seem to go head to head with them over recruits.
"Connecting with the guys" -- "Felt at home." etc. As much as we talk about coaches or selling the school, one of the most overlooked selling points is how the guy clicks with the current players. Each recruit is going to have to go to battle with these guys, spend hours on end with them, and compete with them. There must be a connection. We don’t have a bunch of choir boys, but most of the current BC players are good people. That’s important and players self selecting into that culture should keep the team filled with good “BC Guys.”
I am realistic. I know playing time, style of offense and getting on TV help our recruiting. But as long as the right message gets out and the player knows what he is getting, the coaches are doing their job the right way.
The other aspect of our recruiting that pleases me is the breadth of our recruiting territory. In addition to New England, New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania and the Midwestern Catholic Schools, the new staff is placing an emphasis on Florida, Texas and the southeast. The dividends may be small at first, but I think now is the time to leverage BC’s reputation. We consider ourselves a national school. Our football team should embody that as well. I know our pitch will be ignored by the vast majority of top kids in SEC land. There will also be plenty of kids who will respond.
Recruiting is evaluation, sales and hard work. I think this staff believes in what they are selling and is certainly working hard. If their evaluations are good, we’ll be benefiting from their efforts for a long time.