No, this isn’t a post about the Kentucky Derby. It’s about how coaches are already laying plans for opening the doors to recruits on June 1st.
With the pandemic winding down and COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise, the NCAA announced earlier this month a highly anticipated return to the normal recruiting calendar: Beginning on June 1 and running through the 27th, FBS programs will be allowed to host official and unofficial visitors on campuses for the first time since the NCAA enacted a dead period last March — ending a 445-day stretch in which coaches and recruits made eye contact on Zoom and FaceTime or not at all.
“The virtual thing showed us that there are a lot of different avenues and means to being able to recruit,” said Maryland coach Mike Locksley. “But there’s still no substitution for that face-to-face, personality, get a feel for people and who they are.”
On the heels of this unprecedented span, June promises to be unlike any period in the history of major-college recruiting. With thousands of prospects flocking onto campuses across nearly four open weeks and coaches now able to conduct workouts with unofficial visitors, the month will shock the FBS back into an established rhythm.
While teams have spent months preparing for the resumption of normal recruiting activities, the expected flood of visitors has the potential to strain the resources and manpower of every program.
Every program? Color me skeptical about that. Nick Saban’s had three interns working on this since the COVID lockdown was announced last year. Kirby sent Josh Brooks a recruiting budget request that Brooks approved without looking at it.
Florida’s in good shape, too, but that’s because the Portal Master™ has transitioned to a higher plane of recruiting.
“The recruiting aspect, I don’t have to be at my desk to do it,” Mullen said. “Wherever you have a phone and you can text kids or you can FaceTime kids, and you’re calling and doing all of that part on the recruiting side of things, it’s not that big of a deal.”
Humor aside, this next month is going to present a challenge for every program.
But it’s on June 1 that the floodgates will open, with a stream of committed and uncommitted prospects arriving on FBS campuses just as coaches juggle the two biggest topics in roster management: the explosive popularity of the transfer portal and the uncertain number of scholarships available in 2022, when programs are expected to be required to return to the standard 85-scholarship limit after the NCAA granted a one-year respite to accommodate seniors who accepted another year of eligibility.
The matter of scholarship allotment moving forward looms over the entire landscape of football recruiting and has already led several big-name programs to adopt different tactics to remain flexible in the face of uncertainty.
It’s not just getting to do talent evaluations in the flesh that will count. It’s figuring out how to construct a program’s roster after the evaluations that’s going to be critical. My money’s on the coaches who have already proven themselves to be masters at roster management. Gee, I wonder who they are?