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January 15, 2013

Guest Blog: The Politics of Recruiting

My good friend and former Head Football Coach of Pikevill College and Newberry College, Zak Willis, is now doing blog on recruiting. Zak has been a successful coach at every stop in his career (Newberry, Michigan State, Ohio) and is thought of the most as a great recruiter. Zak will be sharing some of his thoughts weekly with us on SCVarsity.com and you can follow his blog at ZAK WILLIS IS FIRED - UP ABOUT RECRUITING. I hope you visit his new blog and I hope you enjoy his thoughts as much as I do. Today, Zack talks about how the dynamics of a coaching staff and politics therein can impact recruiting and the future of young men. I have watched this happen every year since I first started in the recruiting business in 1984. I hope you enjoy.

Have you ever wondered how guys like Roddy White or Troy Brown slip through the cracks in our state and end up in the NFL (and it seems like they go to the Pro Bowl every year)? Many times it's due to staff politics. The inner workings of college recruiting have long been unknown to the general fan base because of the political nature of staff dynamics in major college football. College coaches, above all else, are competitive by nature and that extends into the area of recruiting. There are several models for talent evaluation and approval for a scholarship offer on college staffs. In most cases, coaches are assigned areas and then present promising prospects to coordinators or position coaches for final approval. The head coach may or may not be fully involved, it depends on the program. Problems arise when the coaches keep a tally of who signs the most players. More often than one might think, a jealous or vengeful position coach will approve a player of lesser ability from his own area to boost his recruiting numbers to the detriment of the team. I have personally witnessed and heard stories of some pretty nasty relationships resulting in under-talented players being offered scholarships while the Roddy Whites (James Island, SC) of the world fell through the cracks and were snatched up by the likes of out-of-state schools like UAB. Lest we forget the Troy Browns who head off to Marshall after junior college at Lees-McCrae and go on to stardom with the NFL's New England Patriots (he is a Blackville, SC native). The solution to this problem, hire a Head Coach who makes the final call and accepts full responsibility for the results. So the next time you see Roddy White score for the Falcons imagine what could have been. Don't get discouraged if the school you always wanted to play at turns you down, everything happens for a reason. Who knows, you may be another example of the NFL star who fell through the cracks. Other examples of what I am talking about are Walter Payton and Jerry Rice who played at small schools and went on to be all-time greats. So keep your head up, work hard and have fun. Great things are bound to follow! -- Zak Willis
Zak Willis


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