Category Archives: Recruiting

Margin called, sucka.

Amusing story from Mack Brown:

“There are so many rumors out there, just like with NIL,” Brown said. “Are these kids making as much as they say they are? Some of them aren’t. I had a guy sitting in my office and say, ‘Coach, I’ve been offered $350,000.’ He was a recruit. I thought he was an OK player. He said, ‘I’ve been offered $350,000 to take it.’ I held up my phone and said, ‘Let’s call them now, man. You ought to take it. You need to take it before you get out of this office. I’d hold them to that if they offered you that much.’”

You have to admire, albeit perversely, a 17-year trying to bluff a coach who’s been in the business for decades and has heard more bullshit on the recruiting trail than I could possibly imagine.  Brown doesn’t go on to mention the punchline, but I’m gonna presume that kid ain’t going to North Carolina or the school with the “offer”.

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Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, Recruiting

You broke it, you bought it. War Eagle!

Yeesh ($$).

Is Auburn as dead in recruiting as it appears? — Chris P. 

Auburn’s 2023 recruiting class added a commitment from four-star receiver Karmello English of Phenix City (Ala.) Central on July 4. English is the No. 144 overall player and the No. 24 receiver in the 2023 class. He’s the highest-rated player in Auburn’s class, which now has four commitments and ranks No. 70 nationally.

Auburn’s four commitments are all solid players. And given we’re still in July, there’s still theoretically some time to salvage this thing. It doesn’t seem like Auburn will, though. At least not right now.

If I’m an Auburn fan, I’m worried. Really worried. The Tigers just aren’t being seriously considered by many of the top players in the country. A quick scroll through 247Sports’ Auburn page, and you’ll see the Tigers don’t appear to be in the mix with many (or any) players in the top 100. And as a reporter who is tracking countless elite recruitments at once, I rarely, if ever, hear anything about Auburn. It’s just not a good place for the program to be in, especially when its rival is Alabama.

Who’da thunk there would be consequences to running a failed palace coup?  Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of folks, if you ask me.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Recruiting

“… but perception-wise, the Pac-12 is going to be perceived as a higher-level Mountain West.”

Yeah, I imagine this is leading to more than a few awkward moments on the recruiting trail ($$).

… And in the week since, we’ve learned that the remaining Pac-12 schools are exploring a variety of options to ensure their futures.

The truth is wherever the 10 remaining schools land, they’ll only be as good as the talent they acquire. And in a post-USC/UCLA recruiting world, the conference is left with more questions than answers at the moment.

“Recruiting right now is tough,” another Pac-12 recruiting staffer said.  “Everyone wants to know the future of the conference and what are we looking like right now, so it’s really tough to answer. … It puts some questions in recruits’ heads, for sure.”

When all you’ve got left to sell is “you’re going to be closer to home, you don’t have to travel all those hours”, you ain’t got much, fellas.

“I think the really good recruiters will definitely be able to use that to their advantage,” a Pac-12 assistant coach said.

Hell, the mediocre recruiters won’t do too badly with it, either.

10 Comments

Filed under Pac-12 Football, Recruiting

Not exactly WRU, but still…

I’ve seen a fair amount of chatter recently that Georgia’s coaches, Smart and Monken in particular, have had to spend time explaining to wide receiver recruits that Georgia’s offense isn’t wideout adverse.  (Burton’s departure to Alabama didn’t help the narrative, to put it mildly.)  So, in light of that, I found this stat kind of interesting.

Does it matter?  I dunno, but it should.

35 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, The NFL Is Your Friend.

You couldn’t pay me enough.

Question for y’all:

The Tennessee Volunteers didn’t land a single top-100 national football prospect in their 2021 or 2022 signing classes.

So far in this 2023 recruiting cycle, the Vols have snagged five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, lost out to Ohio State for five-star receiver Carnell Tate, and are finalists for five-star offensive tackle Francis Mauigoa from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and five-star edge rusher Chandarian Bradley from Platte City, Missouri.

What has Tennessee competing for the country’s elite talent as if Phillip Fulmer was back at the helm?

Is it the success and the excitement of Josh Heupel’s first season that has led to optimism for this autumn and beyond? Is it a Tennessee tradition that includes 13 Southeastern Conference championships and the picturesque setting of Neyland Stadium overlooking the Tennessee River? Or could it be that the Vols have been competitive out of the gate in college football’s new world of name, image and likeness (NIL) deals?

Well, it strikes me that “competing” is doing some heavy lifting there.  Let’s see where the dust settles on UT’s class come December.  In any event, I’m sure the money doesn’t hurt, but that particular playing field is going to level sooner or later, at which point all recruits will be left with is deciding if they really want to wear Urnge.

43 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Recruiting

TFW an analogy ages well

This little bit of insight will never, ever grow stale.

Miami: From a Bulldog perspective, if you looked at the state of Florida as though it were Afghanistan (and I do), the Gators, obviously, are the Taliban, while Miami is whatever warlord is running things in the Northeast. The Hurricanes don’t occupy anything remotely resembling moral high ground, but they are useful. As with Alabama, a healthy Miami helps Georgia; in Da U’s case, it’s because the ‘Canes recruit against the Gators in the Sunshine State’s hottest hotbeds for high school talent, although they don’t play the Gators that often.

Fifteen years old and it still bangs when you read stuff like this ($$):

Also, you have to recognize that Miami is going to be a tough competitor for most of the recruits Florida is chasing. Mario Cristobal is one of the best recruiting head coaches in the sport, with or without NIL, so we have to acknowledge that this isn’t a one-time issue. Remember, McClain took an official visit to Miami over the weekend before releasing a top three that consists of Florida, Alabama and the Hurricanes. Cristobal is no joke.

Is Rashada choosing Miami a major red flag for Florida? I’m not sure if I’m willing to go that far just yet. There are still six months before signing day and perception can change in a hurry. But if Napier finishes his first full cycle as Florida’s head coach with a Mullen-like class — regardless of where you’d put the blame — I’d be worried about Florida’s long-term viability as a powerhouse recruiting outfit.

Yeah, that would be a real shame.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

“I was just speaking from the heart …”

At this point, the only thing I can figure is that Mike Griffith is sexually aroused by the thought of Georgia moving the Cocktail Party out of Jacksonville.  It seems like he’s got a post on the subject every week.  The latest version brings in that noted expert on Georgia football, Jeremy Pruitt.

“Pruitt, like Smart, has a uniquely qualified perspective to understand the Georgia program’s strengths and weaknesses…”

Whoa, hoss.  “Pruitt, like Smart”?  But I digress.

“I do know that just from a recruiting standpoint if I’m one of the top players in the country …. (Florida) is going to be a game that’s going to draw some of the best players in the country,” Pruitt said of the Georgia-Florida rivalry.

“These prospects are going to choose the games and decide what game do I want to go see Georgia play? What game do I want to see Alabama, maybe Clemson, LSU, whoever?”

Yes, that’s exactly how the recruiting game is being played these days.  Championships, facilities, ability to develop players, NIL — all of that takes a back seat to seeing the team Georgia is playing on a given Saturday.

Griffith notes that Pruitt is taking a year off from coaching after leaving the New York Giants.  I’m beginning to understand why.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

“Napier has probably lost the fan base before a game is played.”

Tough times in Gainesville:

If you’re not a die-hard and missed the mess that’s happened with Florida’s 2023 recruiting class as June winds down, here’s a cliff notes rundown of events involving lots of UF’s marquee targets:

  • 5-star cornerback AJ Harris, long considered a Gators lean, cancelled a scheduled official visit to Florida and committed to Georgia.
  • 5-star safety Tony Mitchell ended a long flirtation with Florida by naming a final four that did not include the Gators and promptly committed to Alabama the next day.
  • 4-star defensive lineman Gavin Hill, a local standout at Buchholz High, committed to Florida.
  • 4-star offensive lineman Roderick Kearney verbally committed to archival Florida State less than half an hour after leaving his official visit with the Gators.
  • 4-star linebacker Grayson Howard, an in-state prospect from Jacksonville, committed to South Carolina over Florida despite making multiple visits to Gainesville in June.
  • Florida is also considered to be losing traction with top targets like 5-star cornerback Cormani McClain (a UF-Alabama-Miami battle) and 4-star tailback Treyaun Webb, a Gators legacy from Jacksonville who many wrote in his name in pen for the 2023 class but is now seen as a Penn State lean.
  • And the coup de grace: 4-star quarterback Jaden Rashada, who was seen as a UF lock for weeks before delaying his decision and committing to Miami on Sunday. Rashada, a Top 50 prospect, was seen as the future face of Napier’s first full-recruiting cycle. Elite quarterback prospects are like Tik Tok influencers and the expectation was Rashada would commit to the Gators and then other top-flight prospects would instantly flock to Gainesville, too.

So much for Plan A.  Maybe Plan B, too.

Recruiting is so much about optics and narrative, and right now, UF is holding a losing hand. Regardless of what exactly is happening behind the scenes within the various Florida-associated collectives, publicly, there’s now the notion that the Gators simply aren’t as organized or attractive as Miami or Florida State — much less Georgia, Alabama or others.

That’s a problem.

Billy Napier was hired by Florida precisely because he could do what his predecessor could not: Recruit at an elite level. Dan Mullen won at least 10 games in his first two seasons at UF, but Year 3 fell off a cliff because Mullen failed to restock the roster with the requisite talent compared to Florida’s SEC rivals.

In stepped Napier, who demanded and was handed “an army” of support staffers and recruiting analysts — rivaling similar staffs at UGA, Alabama and Texas A&M. The charismatic and confident 42-year-old former Louisiana-Lafayette head coach came to Gainesville preaching patience and vision, and then underpromised but overdelivered during his first Early Signing Period — namely beating out the Bulldogs for 5-star IMG Academy safety Kamari Wilson.

He teased the possibility that Florida could become a recruiting power again, especially in a Sunshine State full of flux with a fellow new regime in a Miami and a coach in Tallahassee entering a put-up-or-shut-up season.

“This is a talent acquisition business,” Billy Napier said when he was hired.

Flash forward six months, and the Gators don’t have a single Top 150 prospect among their eight commits.

Well, what do you expect, Gator fans?  First year coaches usually have a rough time putting together their first class.  Just look at how much Kirby Smart struggled with his… oh, wait.

I expect “it’s still early” is going to get a heavy workout, but if Billy can’t squeeze out nine wins this season (remember, Mullen surpassed that number his first season), the wolves are gonna be howlin’.

Dave Chappelle Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

“I think he’s happy with his decision.”

Jesus, what a shit show.

In the ever-evolving story of University of Miami quarterback commit Jaden Rashada, everyone seems to have their own narrative. None are lining up, however.

That’s the consensus nearly 24 hours after On3 reported Rashada left millions in potential NIL earnings on the table with his commitment to the Hurricanes, according to his lawyer Michael Caspino. The On3 Consensus four-star quarterback chose Miami over Florida and Texas A&M.

Since the news broke, multiple parties involved in the story have issued statements or walked back their comments. Jackson Zager, Rashada’s old teammate at IMG Academy, told On3 on Monday the Rashada family was “stressed out and caught off guard” by Caspino’s comments Sunday night.

Zager was serving as the family’s NIL representation in regard to endorsements. As a high school athlete in the state of California, Rashada is allowed to sign partnership agreements. Zager told On3 he flew to Miami last week to broker a deal between LifeWallet and the quarterback, but was told to “sit tight.”

At that point, he and his partner Tommy Thomsen received a cease and desist text message from Caspino regarding Rashada’s NIL recruitment. Zager told On3 that after Sunday, he and Thomsen are unsure of their standing with the family moving forward. The duo claims they represented Rashada in endorsement talks with multiple companies.

“The family told me to tell them to stop doing that,” Caspino said to On3 on Monday afternoon. “I stand by the statement he did not take the highest offer. Absolutely.”

If you caught that “old teammate at IMG Academy” and asked yourself “WTF?”, well, you’re not alone.

Zager is 19 years old and just finished his freshman year at SMU. The president and founder of JTM Sports, he holds an athlete agent license in multiple states. His partner and chief business operator at JTM, Thomsen is a 22-year-old commercial real estate agent.

If you can’t beat ’em, represent ’em.

But let’s get back to noted NIL lawyer Caspino, who’s beating a hasty retreat from his original brag story as fast as he can.

Caspino continues to claim The Gator Collective offered Rashada “a lot of money,” but a Gator Collective representative and Florida football staffer indicated to On3 the Gators never offered him a dollar. The same member of the collective told On3 that the lawyer has attempted to reach them through “multiple pathways” in the past few months. Other collectives have shared similar stories.

A Florida football staffer also indicated that Caspino reached out on multiple occasions. The lawyer refutes the story, claiming he was called by the assistant.

The staffer went on to say Caspino takes roughly 13% from each deal he strikes. Caspino reaffirmed his previous statement that he doesn’t take any money from deals, only a one to three-percent fee collectives pay for his legal work.

When asked specifically about the Miami deal, Caspino shot down any possibility of inducement or Rashada having a contract in hand before his commitment. He is also not a member of the Florida bar association.

“It’s a deal in progress, it’s a deal in process. That’s all I can say,” Caspino said. “We don’t have a deal with Miami right now. We don’t. There’s things in process. We don’t have a deal right now.”

Zager indicated to On3 that Caspino retains a “runner,” which is another term for a street agent. This is an agent who spots a talented prospect, develops a relationship with him and his family and secures him an NIL deal. Caspino acknowledged street agents are part of the NIL process in a previous interview with On3.

“I don’t even know what that is, people call me all day long,” Caspino said Monday. “I don’t do advertisements. I’ve gotten calls all day today. I’ve never heard the term ‘runner’ before.”

Uh hunh.  I’m sure a guy whose resume notes that he’s tried cases involving “wrongful death… catastrophic injury, traumatic brain injury, … etc.” would have no idea what a runner is.

Meanwhile, shots continue to be fired.

Darren Heitner and Michael Caspino have been exchanging words over email and Twitter for the better part of the last month.

The two lawyers, one based in Florida and the other in California, respectively, have developed a feud that has been the talk in many NIL circles. It was even a talking point for some at the NIL Summit. Heitner has been on the forefront of the NIL landscape, helping craft contracts and guiding collectives behind the scenes. He also helped craft the Sunshine State’s NIL legislation.

He’s also a Florida alumnus and has provided counsel to the Gator Collective.

Caspino’s comments directed towards the Gators on Sunday night was just the kicker to their ongoing argument and a clear shot at the Florida-based lawyer. Heitner told On3 on Monday night the admission from Caspino that Rashada left “millions on the table” is all the NCAA needs to investigate the lawyer.

The NCAA’s guidance on NIL clearly states boosters and donors cannot be in contact with prospective student-athletes. The organization has made it known NIL cannot be used to induce recruits. Enforcement director Jeff Duncan reminded members in a letter in June that the NCAA is “working tirelessly to develop information and investigate potential violations.”

The NCAA released updated NIL guidance in early May, stating collectives – groups of boosters and businesses – are not to be involved in the recruiting process or in the transfer portal. Collectives have pooled together funds to help bankroll teams.

“He tied the knot. He put together the present and put it on the NCAA’s doorstep,” Heitner said.

As I like to say, we’re gonna need a bigger bag of popcorn for this.

As for Mr. Reshada, if you didn’t know the old saying about lying down with dogs, start scratching now.

27 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

Robbing the cradle

Kirbs likes to get ’em while they’re young.

Judging from what I’ve heard about his contract extension, Smart’s got no problem promising this kid he’ll still be around when he gets to Athens.

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting