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Football Recruiting In 2000

Sept. 11, 2000

By Todd Lamb Assistant Sports Information Dir. Missouri Game Program – September 9, 2000

A lot has changed in the realm of college football recruiting over the last decade and while no single element has had a greater impact on recruiting than the reduction of scholarships to 85, there is a new major hot button with coaches. Internet web sites.

Now, they are not talking about news sites such as, but they are concerned about sites with internet chat rooms, where fans have the opportunity to write whatever they want whether it is fact, rumor or just speculation.

“Anyone can get out on the internet and type anything they want to about a certain coach or a certain player,” said Clemson assistant coach Rick Stockstill, who oversees the football team’s recruiting efforts in addition to his responsibility with Clemson’s wide receivers. “The biggest thing that the kids we are recruiting need to know is that they shouldn’t believe everything they see or read on their computer. They need to believe what they hear or see from the coach who is recruiting them.”

To that end, the Clemson coaching staff is hard at work on the recruiting trail, developing relationships that will help build the program for years to come.

Each assistant coach has been assigned a recruiting area and it then becomes the responsibility of each coach to develop and maintain a relationship with the high school coaches in their area. The better a coach knows a high school coach, the easier it can be to sign a student-athlete from that school.

The NCAA limits the number of times a prospective student-athlete can come into contact with a coaching staff and further limits correspondence opportunities as well. Once a prospect enters his senior year, a coach can only make face-to-face contact six times during the recruiting process and call a prospect once a week on the telephone (except during the contact period, when calls are unlimited). A coach can write a prospect as often as he wants. Since it may be hard for a coach to get to know a prospect in six visits and three evaluation opportunities, having a good relationship with high school coach is extremely helpful to a college.

“If you can’t walk into a kid’s home in December and hug a kid, you don’t have a chance,” Stockstill said.

That’s why establishing a relationship with a prospect’s high school coach can be a benefit in the recruiting process. Since the majority of Clemson’s coaching staff is in its second year in Tiger Town, it is working hard at building relationships with the area’s high school coaches. Though many of the assistant coaches are new to Clemson, they have had roots in the areas where they have recruited since entering the profession.

Stockstill, who is now in his 12th season as an assistant coach with the Tigers, has had the same area to recruit in the state of South Carolina all 12 years. He also is assigned areas in Florida and Georgia and has picked up 15 new high schools in South Carolina this year.

“Consistency helps build relationships,” he said. “Anytime you have continuity, you do a better job. Without continuity it takes a while to develop relationships and trust.”

Stockstill says the high school coaches in this state do a great job of coaching and helping young men during the recruiting process. Last April nearly 350 high school coaches converged on Clemson to take part in a clinic put on by head coach Tommy Bowden and his staff. While the clinic is meant to be educational, it is extremely helpful in cultivating better relationships between Clemson’s staff and the state’s high school coaches.

Many coaches attended the clinic to gain a better understanding of Bowden’s offense, which has been called the offense of the future, by former San Francisco 49er’s coach Bill Walsh. It is an offense that fans find exciting and one that is appealing to high school players, especially those in the offensive skill positions.

But just because the Tigers’ offense is flashy, it doesn’t mean that recruiting has gotten any easier.

“You have to work harder to sell and convince a kid that Clemson is the best place for him,” Stockstill said. “I don’t care if you are selling a Volkswagen or a Rolls Royce, you have to do something every day to sell your program. The work that goes into recruiting isn’t easy.”

And how could it be?

The recruiting process lasts all year. Signing day in February marks the end of the process in recruiting one class, but the recruiting process for the next class starts the very next day.

“You have to be a year ahead,” Stockstill said. “Right now we have to know who we are recruiting for 2001 and have to have a good idea who we are going to recruit for 2002.”

The beginning of the process really gets rolling in April and May of a recruit’s junior year in what is called an evaluation period when coaches are permitted to evaluate a prospect’s athletic ability and assess a prospect’s academic qualifications.

“We normally go into April and May with a long list of names,” Stockstill said. “We may have the list down to 1,000 names when the evaluation period begins. After that we’d like to cut it down between 400 and 450 names by the end of May.”

Each of Clemson’s assistant coaches then work to shrink the list to 40-45 players they want to look at in the fall. And that is where a coach’s relationship with a prospect’s high school coach is beneficial.

While the Clemson staff has a good idea about a prospect’s athletic ability, his high school coach can provide insight into a prospect’s character and academic standing and that will help shrink the list to a group that will become Clemson’s next group of signees.

But even with a high school coach as an ally, the decision is one the prospect has to make on his own. He has to get all the facts about a school from the people he knows he can trust.