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Second Season: February 2009 Archives

Illini, Irish make offers

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While driving through Florida and interviewing 150 players in the class of 2010, it became apparent that Illinois hasn't offered nearly as many prospects as a year ago and only a couple of players listed the Illini among the top 10 schools they are considering. A year ago, many Floridians listed Illinois among their favorites.

It is obvious, as I've said earlier, that Illinois coach Ron Zook has mapped out a different recruiting strategy for this year. It has been shaped in part because the Illini weren't too successful in Florida a year ago and because of the loss of their best recruiter, Mike Locksley, who became head coach at New Mexico.

The hiring of Mike Schultz signals a new chapter in Illini recruiting. Schultz has many contacts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Schultz was the offensive coordinator at Texas Christian for 11 years and will handle the same responsibility at Illinois.

New recruiting strategy for Illinois?

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I interviewed 150 players in Florida, 30 in Georgia and 50 in South and North Carolina on my most recent trip through the Southeast and it is apparent that Illinois coach Ron Zook has changed his recruiting strategy for 2010.

A year ago, Illinois offered almost 200 scholarships to prospects all over the country, several in Florida. Zook's program was mentioned by dozens of kids wherever I went. Not this year. Illinois' name didn't pop up on questionnaires in Florida as much as it did a year ago.

Zook didn't have much success in the Southeast last year so he apparently has changed his recruiting tactics and is redirecting his efforts to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, St. Louis and Dallas/Fort Worth. He is playing to the strengths of his assistant coaches, which is smart.

Keeping up with readers

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I'm heading for Florida to interview the top junior prospects in the most fertile state for football recruiting in the country. In my next blogs, I'll inform you about the best players in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

In the meantime, here are some insights provided in a recent letter I received from the father of a Big 10 recruit. It's always interesting to hear from a parent who is educated as his son goes through the recruiting process and isn't awed by it.

Here are some of his thoughts:

"Rivals and Scout, in my opinion, are lazy. (One recruiting service) didn't see my son play until his senior year. No one from Rivals or Scout ever talked to his high school coach. They assign stars based on who offers and when. That's it. Once a kid commits, he is off the board and never is discussed again."

Recruiting gets bigger and bigger

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Some sports columnists and other critics were outraged by the amount of coverage devoted to college football recruiting on national signing day, nine hours on two networks that amounted to more time than even the Super Bowl preview commanded.

Well, recruiting is football's second season and people--athletes, family, friends, coaches and fans--love to watch. Aside from the exhausting shows on ESPNU and CBS College Sports, the Big 10, SEC and other major conferences conducted their own television shows. In the South, they are as popular as grits and gravy and southern fried chicken.

Fans can't get enough of recruiting, like the NFL draft. Did you know that the NFL draft with Mel Kiper Jr. is one of ESPN's biggest money-makers? The Big 10 needs to sponsor a recruiting show on a year-round basis and I'm sure it's ratings would skyrocket. Check the college Websites. Recruiting is the No. 1 topic.

Signing day aftermath

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After spending six hours on the tarmac waiting for my plane to New York to take off, then grinding out nine hours on CBS College Sports' signing day special, how do I unwind and chill out? I'm driving through New York State, interviewing and watching film on high school prospects in the class of 2010. Am I a glutton for punishment or what?

I guess my most pressing memory of Wednesday's signing period was, like last year, how many kids changed their minds at the last minute and chose to sign with other schools. De-commiting has become a national disease that infects hundreds of players. It has come to the point where a kid's word isn't worth spit.

Critics argue that it is OK, that is a trend, a common practice that can be excused, for kids to make an early commitment, then continue to visit other schools. I would argue that a kid who makes a commitment, then visits other schools, hasn't made a commitment at all. And since nothing is binding until signing day, it makes no sense to commit unless you mean it. In my view, it only makes the kid look bad.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Second Season in February 2009.

Second Season: January 2009 is the previous archive.

Second Season: March 2009 is the next archive.

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