LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Recruiting is the lifeblood of every college program. The stars of tomorrow are evaluated and chosen months or even years in advance to stepping on campus. The coronavirus has obviously made that job harder for coaches.
“What we miss the most is the opportunity to go out and visit with high school coaches in the spring,” said UL Lafayette Recruiting Coordinator Tim Leger. “That six week period is important from the middle of April to the end of May where we can actually go on campus and watch guys work out and watch them practice in the afternoon.”
Southern Miss offensive coordinator Matt Kubik agrees that not evaluating prospects with their own eyes is difficult.
“We do our due diligence and try to watch as much tape as possible, but there is no substitute for seeing the guy on the hoof and watching the guy perform looking at them in the eyes.”
Without the camp circuit, some coaching staffs like the Ragin’ Cajuns in Lafayette have used creative ways to collect the data they would usually get with summer camps.
“Probably the biggest thing that we have done is we have created a series of evaluation tapes of things that we have always done here,” said Leger. “We get the information to the high school coach and they give them an NFL combine type workout and those guys video it and send it and share it with coaches from all over.”
Leger said the drills are position-specific and translate to on-the-field ability.
“It is very football-related, it is not weight room type stuff. It’s position-specific work where we can evaluate those guys and they can display the tools they would if we put them through drills on our campus during summer camp.”
The idea for the player-submitted videos came from a desire to give players exposure.
“We did not feel like it was fair to these kids. Some schools have upwards to 100 college coaches on the campus during the spring to watch them practice and get information. We thought we needed to do everything we could not only for the kids in our state, but kids in general, to not miss out on the window that would normally be really big in their recruiting,” said Leger. “We encouraged them to share that with everyone that was recruiting them.”
Thus, UL Lafayette recruits aren’t the only ones benefitting, as many are sending their tapes to other schools, like Southern Miss.
“We have already been talking to guys and got some submissions from guys that have put that type of video together for college recruiters. I think it’s a great way under our circumstances to get evaluations done,” said Kubik. “I think it’s a great thing for a high school guy right now to go ahead and make those videos to try and get them out to as many people as you can.”
Area prospects are seeing the payoff too.
“I posted my videos and I got like four offers right off of that,” said LCCP quarterback Dillon Simon. “So everything really changed because of coronavirus, it’s changed a lot of stuff, recruiting, everything.”
“Compared to last summer, I have more coaches talking to me saying send more video and stuff like that,” Westlake defensive end Eli Goss said. “Because you’re doing the same stuff in a camp, but just on your own so basically it’s like the NFL combine.”
As high school players are focused on earning scholarships so they can continue playing in college, they also are looking ahead to a fall filled with uncertainty— wondering if there will be a season at all.
“It’s tough but you can’t think like that, you’ve got to think positive that we’re gonna have a season and push hard every day in the weight room and do your stuff on your own to get better," said Goss.
“We just want to be able to play our last home game and try to make a state championship," admitted Simon. "We just want to get the opportunity to play— that’s all we are hoping for right now.”