Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leaving Early is Possible for Some Recruits

      Doing some homework this morning, reading the Columbus Dispatch's basketball preview, I noticed that two of McCallister's top football prospects in Central Ohio have opted to graduate in December and enroll early at the University of Michigan. A few days ago, I read where Mr. Football, QB Mitch Trubisky from Mentor is graduating early and enrolling at the University of North Carolina.
      Years ago, when colleges started trying to get their committed players to graduate early, I was, as you can guess, totally against it. Let kids be kids!! Let them go to their senior prom. Let them graduate with their friends. Let their parents hold graduation parties. Let them experience high school. Now, I believe that each situation is different. Some should not leave early. Some prospects are ready to move on, but, most importantly, some NEED to move on. That is the case for both Pickerington North's TE Jake Butt, Pickerington Central's DE Taco Charlton, and Mentor's QB Mitch Trubisky.
      Jake Butt, listed at 6'6-225, has been a very good basketball player at Pick North. Really athletic and his motor never idles on the basketball court. Jumps well. Natural leader. Most of all, really competitive. All of these qualities were evident on the football field as well. Jake needs to get to the training table, because he has to add weight the right way. Not only needs to add weight, but also needs to get stronger.  For this, the move to Michigan in January is good.
      Jake told me that Michigan is going back to a more pro type offense, and at times will be using two tight ends. Both returning scholarship tight ends are sophomores. He simply feels that the move will put him into competition in the spring, rather than waiting until next summer.
      Taco Charlton, at 6'6-235, really impressed me on the basketball court last winter. Big, strong rebounder. Solid defensive player. Really competitive, almost intimidating at times. On the football field, at times I did not see that same intensity on the football field. Played in spurts, but he has the skills. Taco needs  the competition and the push that he will get at Michigan. Pick Central coaches do a really good job, but a college coach "getting in his mind" should help him be better. If not, he will not last in Ann Arbor. Right now, the move to Michigan in January is good.
      "Leaving early gives me a head start over freshmen coming in next summer," was the first comment Taco made. He also said that Michigan coaches believe the extra work will give him a much better chance of getting on the field next fall. Of course, that is his goal.
      QB Mitch Trubisky, the recent Ohio Mr. Football award winner, has put up huge numbers and won awards as the quarterback at Mentor. Some Cleveland media call him the most "Prolific passer in Greater Cleveland history. Have always liked him. Smart. Finds the the 2nd and 3rd receiver. Quick release. Runs well enough to avoid trouble. Good feet. Needs to continue to get physically stronger. Needs some tweaking with his release. Of course, leaving early gives him a chance learn the UNC offense before spring practice. Although I am sure he will miss the cold weather (humor), the move to University of North Carolina is good.
      Mitch's said that leaving early will give him an advantage taking classes early and get him use to studying in college. Also, taking classes this spring will help ease the classload in the fall. Football wise, he will start learning the offense. Being a quarterback, fitting in with the team as soon as possible is important to him.
      My late wife taught the Talented and Gifted program here in Upper Sandusky. She  believed that some students had talents that not every student had. They were "talented and gifted." She taught and encouraged students to work to increase their " talent." Some high school football recruits need to improve their "gift," and getting a head start in college is the way to do it. Leaving early is possible for some prospects, but not for others.
      The best to Jake, Taco, Mitch, and any other prospect who is leaving high school early to improve his gifted abilities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Be Prepared When the College Football Coach Stops By

Yesterday, one of my college football assistants who gets my information called and complained about a recruit that he visited that morning. Exact words, "Why did people put htis kid on my list?' My first comment was that I didn't. His answer was something like, "Yea, I know."

He preceded to describe how the prospect was dresssed, how skinny he was, and how he did not communicate well. I do not know the prospect very well, but many recruiting reporters have him rated higher than he should be.

I wrote an article a long time back about the appearance and manners that a prospect should follow on game day visits. However, I do not think that I have ever written one about appearance and manners that a prospect should use, when a college coach stops by the school to meet the prospect. This is one of the very few times a coach can visit with a senior. Remember that if you are not a senior, college coaches cannot talk to you. Of course, there is the "bump rule," where a coach says, "Hi" to an underclassman.

Some simple suggestions that I have, hopefully, will give a prospect some insight. The evaluation period will end December 16. The next two weeks will be the dead period. The evaluation period will start again in January.
      1. Be in school everyday. Don't slack off. Coaches usually only have time to stop once. Their schedule is really hectic. They may be in your area for just one or two days. Be in school every day the next two weeks. December 6-14
     2. Although I would not expect you to "overdress," but during the evaluation period forget the jeans with holes in them. Wear clothes that are appropriate for school. Nice shirt and nice jeans. Be well groomed. Coaches can stop at anytime during the day. Be prepared for a visit.
     3. As you approach the recruiter, lose any kind of ego. Be humble to the fact that a college recruiter is stopping to meet you.
     4. As you chat with the recruiter, make eye contact. You analyze him as much as will be analyzing you. Absorb everything that he says to you. Regardless of the school, show interest.
     5. Ask questions - How many prospects are you recruiting for my position? Do I have an offer? are just some of the questions to ask.
     6. Be honest. Especially when talking about your GPA and test scores. Also be honest about what other schools are recruiting you. Be honest when discussing other offers that you have received.
     7. Do not crack on other colleges. Limit the information that you reveal about what are other colleges are telling you. Do not be negative.
     8. Be sure to thank the recruiter for taking the time to visit with you. Ask him for a business card. Shake hands and walk back to class.
     8. After you have talked to a recruiter, be sure you know what an "offer"really means. Be sure to talk with your coach about the conversation. If any reference to an "offer" is made, be sure you understand what was said about an "offer."
    9. Limit what you tell recruiting reporters from recruiting websites. Even though they tell you that you can trust them - do not. Their job is to get information and be the first to post it on their website. Give them basic information about your visit. You are not obligated to tell them every detail.
  10. Share the details of your visit with your parents. Get ready for another day and more recruiters.

Underclassmen - Realize that if a coach recruiter is talking to you, he is breaking an NCAA rule. Realize that he knows that he is breaking an NCAA rule. Realize that saying "Hi" is a stretch, but a chat is breaking an NCAA rule.     

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meet Whitmer's Jerry Bell

Last winter I was watching some high school football players from the Toledo area working out at a Mike Robinson camp. Think that it was in February. Not alot of players, but they were being coached by members of Mike's staff. While I was watching, Jerry Bell stopped by to be sure everything was going right. That began my communication with the new head football coach at Toledo Whitmer, Jerry Bell.

At the time, I remember thinking to myself, "You have a big job ahead of you." You see, through transfers, move-ns, and home ground talent, Whitmer was loaded last year. I mean, they had excellent high school players, with one going to Nebraska and one to Michigan and one to Michigan State. Their top RB had grade issues, but was one of the top RB's in the state. Whitmer also had a junior WR whom I considered one of the best in the Class of 2013, but he chose to concentrate on basketball this year and forego football.. Unbelievable talent, but got out coached against St Ignatius in the state semi-finals and missed playing in the State Championship Game.

Then head coach Joe Palko moved on to Saline, MI to gide their football program.

Toledo Whitmer made an excellent decision in selecting their new head football coach. They "stayed inside" and selected Jerry Bell, a junior high social studies at Jefferson Junior High in the Whitmer system. Jerry had coached the offensive line at Whitmer for the last ten years. In comparing personality and appearance, Brady Hoke and Jerry are in the same mold, while Joe Palko and Lane Kiffin would be in the same mold. Coached Bell talked to me more that night, than Palko talked with me over five years. Of course, that is unless he wanted something.

Bell is on the way to finishing the "big job" that I thought was ahead of him. This Saturday night Whitmer plays Cincinnati Moeller for the Division One Ohio High School State Championship. Whitmer went through the season without losing a game. Their QB Nick Holley played behind the coach's son last season, but has been the "truth" this year. Gone are the seniors from last year's team. Honestly, they may have two pre-season D-1 recruits this year, as compared to six or seven last year. A total team effort with alot of disciplined, confident, and well coached high school players will be needed to beat Moeller.

Jerry Bell deserves every post season honor that he gets this year. I talk to him over the cell occasionally and have spoken with him before the three games that I have attended this fall. Whitmer football will be in good hands with him promoting his players and leading a very sound program. The Whitmer Board of Education made the right decision by staying "in house."

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Stay Away from the Noise."

"Stay away from the noise." I read this comment made by the head football coach at Bishop Hartley High School. Brad Burchfield tells this to his football team all of the time. His team has been ranked number one in Division Four all season long. This week they play  in the state semi-finals.

So hard for young high school football players to avoid  reading about themselves in the media. When you are playing on one of the top teams in Ohio, the media coverage gets more intense. Not only in the larger cities, but small town newspapers and radio also blow-up their area teams. This happens on all levels of sports, but I see it in high school football, because that is where I focus. Honestly, as much as a coach tries to limit the over confidence that players gain from the media, it is really a hard hard to do.

I guess I see it more with internet media. Message boards can work both ways. The "noise" can "blow-up" a team, just as easily as it can "deflate" a team. I do not read JJ Huddle or Yappi, so I am not exactly familiar with what is said. I do see comments after stories on line. With newspaper coverage available on the internet, easier access to stories is available.

Recruiting websites who constantly offer opinions on a prospect's ability create alot of "noise." Recruiting reporters write stories on prospects. One problem - to make the stories more interesting, some reports do interviews, but also make up information just to catch the reader's eye. Ranking players brings readers to the recruiting sites. This creates more "noise."

With the regular season of college football winding down, football recruiting will be in full swing. Coaches will be pounding the pavement and will be "bumping" into prospects in the halls. Recruiting reporters will start being more aggressive over the phone. They need content. Plus many of the recruiting reporters have communicatuion lines with a certain college. That reporter gets some limited inside information from a college staff. Of course that same reporter gives the college contact information on what a prospect is saying.

Some free advice for the higher profile recruit. If you do not want anything released through internet media, do not tell anyone your plans. Telling a recruiting reporter not to say anything is a "joke." Case in point was a few weeks ago, a high profile "2014 recruit" told some writer his plans for announcing his verbal commitment later in the week. "Do not say anything." The information was on the internet before he hung up the phone. All of the pieces did not fall into place, and the recruit had to postpone his plans. The reporter who broke the news did not have all of the details and made the recruit look bad.

When Maty Mauk was being recruited by Notre Dame last year, some recruiting reporter from New Jersey who worked for a Notre Dame recruiting site kept calling both Maty and his dad about information. The reporter kept asking  them, if he could break the news first. Of course, the Mauks handled all of the "recruiting BS" the right way and did not tell anybody first.

Simply, try to stay away from all of the "noise." Whether you are a high profile recruit, or a high school player playing a contenting team, do not get caught up in all of the media hype. Easy for me to say, but, at least I say it. One would be surprised at the number of phone calls I get from disappointed players and parents over the dishonesty in football recruiting.

Because of the newness and the excitement of having a son involved in the football recruiting process, players, parents, and some high school coaches just become overwhelmed. Remember football recruiting is a business, sometimes an ugly business, for the college coach.  Save yourself alot of disappointment and frustration with the football recruiting process by trying to "stay away from the noise."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Former Poland Star - Apparent Suicide

As a teacher, I experienced suicides throughout my thirty one years of teaching. All were tough on me, and three were really hard, because I knew them really well. Had them in class and coached one. Also had a boy whom I had coached at Lakota and was a really good person. He died when he was twenty-one.

Read in the Youngstown paper last night that former Poland football standout, Darius Patton died from an apparent suicide early Thursday morning. Sources said Patton may have hanged himself because of a break-up. The reason is really irrelevant to me.

Darius Patton played his last two years of high school football at Poland High School. I considered him one of the better wide receivers in the Ohio Class of 2011. Talked with him three different times and liked his attitude. Competitive and focused.

Pitt scholarshiped him, but he was hospitalized during football season his freshman year. According to the newspaper, he was not on the Pitt roster this fall.

Suicide is a very sad time for me. Hard to explain. I always worry what must have driven a young person, or older person for that matter, to the point that life was no longer worth living. What sruggles must they have had? Although I never contemplated taking my life, I know when my wife battled and lost to cancer, how tough it was. We cannot read a person's mind, to understand all of the emotions that they are experiencing.

Counselors have expertise in this area, but I remember one, years ago, whom I took issue with. She told the students all of the negative about a young seventh grader taking his on life. She told me that in no way did she want Ryan to be the good guy. She wanted the junior high students to love him, but be really upset at him for taking his own life. Part of the problem for me was not what she said, but how she said it. I did not agree with her approach then, and eighteen years later, still do not.

I do not know the issues that Darius had, nor do I need to know. I read where is dad is scheduled to be sentenced for drug related offenses on November 27. I do not know  Darius's life style. The paper mentioned a break-up.  Really I know nothing about him after he was graduated from Poland High School in 2011.

I do know that a young 19 year old took his life. Because of his football talent, I was able to talk with him on three occasions. But it does not matter whether he played football or not. I have saddness for what he must have gone through in his life for him to take his own life. Finally, I have saddness that we do not have enough faith to carry us through every situation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Congrats to Rambsy, McVey, and Monteroso

Just looking over the All-District football teams and really feel good that I have seen many of the players who have received All-District recognitiion. Recently, I blogged my "two cents" about the relativeness of receiving All-District recogntion to being a Division 1 scholarship prospect. Three players who I want to comment on are Alfred Ramsby, Tim McVey, and Dan Monteroso.

Miami of Ohio may have one of the sharpest recruiting staffs in the MAC. At least they do in their evaluation of Colerain's senior Alfred Rambsy. LA missed last year because of terrible knee injury. Plays QB at Colerain, but at 5'11-185 (listed), Miami wants him as a corner. After watching him play against Elder last weekend, I scratch my head as to why more schools have not offered him. He very well be the most electrifying runner in Ohio. Excellent change of direction, excellent burst, really good top speed. A threat to go the distance everytime he touches the ball. Most of all, he loves to compete. Watching him on the sidelines, he just seems to a nice team player. Of course, he is not very tall.

Cleveland St Ignatius may have the toughest, most competitive running back in Ohio. Buffalo has offered and, I think that he has committed to them. Good choice. RB Tim McVey is 5'10-185(listed), but is a powerful inside and outside runner. Excellent ball catcher. Excellent burst. Track speed. Just like LA Rambsy, McVey is electrifying with ball in his hands. His second, third, and fourth effort make him special. As with LA, Tim is also a total team player. Of course, he is not very tall.

"Of course, he is not very tall." I used that comment for both of these really tough, exciting players. They can run fast. They play really physical. They are very athletic. They can play numerous positions. They are really good young men. By the way, the game in - game out competition they play is not too bad. There is chance that they could play against each other in the OHSAA Division 1 State Football Championship Game. Only two colleges in the Midwest have offered them?????? Yes, I know "Of course, they are not very tall."

This fall I drove to St Clairsville to check out LB Michael Ferns, a Michigan commit. The player that jumped out at me that night was WR Dan Monteroso. Listed 6'3-180, and he may be that tall. Ran really well. Smooth stride. Really athletic. Could separate. Combined with the speed, he caught the ball really well. For me, he had that wide receiver confidence and swagger. I did not see him in camp and only saw him that night. He has committed to Boston College. He was named East All-District Division IV offensive player of the year. Not so sure about what is going on at BC, but I think that he can play.

Glad these young men are getting a chance to show their "stuff" in the playoffs. Coach John Cooper always said, " It is not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight in the dog." With Dan Monteroso, I always say, "If you are good enough, someone will find you."

Being a "MAC Guy," I am a little disappointed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Excuses for a "Blogless Week."

      Actually some people have emailed me as to where my blog entries have been over the last week. Just need a minute to inform my readers of all that's happening at the farm. Things have been happening, but first, I must say that the blog is something that I do for fun. Gives me a way to vent and also a way to give my opinions.
      Last Thursday night my oldest son and his wife brought Cora Ellis McCallister into the world. Super healthy, but was not ready to make her entry into the world until she was ready. Cora had to be induced. Everything went well. First grand child. My second grandbaby is due January 20. My daughter is having a boy.
      My eleven month old labrador had her tubes removed last Wednesday morning. Picked her up from the vet on Friday morning. All is well. Things were going well, until I saw a big black dog near my property. I had the talk with Hunter about planned parenthood, but she did not understand. Had to have the surgery done.
      Last week I was able to get all of my mailings to the Ohio High School football coaches mailed out. These are reference sheets where they provide communication/personal information on their college prospects. Since I am poor and a micro manager, I do all the work myself. My printer lives in Findlay. Three trips were required. Colleges pay for that information.
     Also used some good weather days to get all of my outside work done in preparation for winter. Live on four acres and much had to be done.
     For some reason my weekly evaluations to the colleges took longer to do than usual last week. This weeks are done and emailed to the colleges.
     As I always told my students, excuses are like noses, everybody has one. Those are some of my excuses for being "blogless" for a week.
     Looking forward to writing tonight.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cheering for my Hometown Rams

Just wanted to recognize my Rams from Upper Sandusky. After finishing the season at 7-3 Upper Sandusky finished 8th in their region in Division four. The good news is that they have made the playoffs for the first time since the "Greg Micheli Years." The bad news is that they play Bishop Hartley tomorrow night. The Hawks are rated the number one team in Division Four. That rating is probably justified.

I am really happy for the Rams. I travel every weekend and do not get to see them play. But once a Ram, always as Ram. I do know three of the younger players, and I like what the team represents in the community. The only time that I saw them practice was this summer at 2:00 on a hot Saturday afternoon. At that time, they went full go tackle drills for at 35 minutes. From that, I know that they work hard are mentally tough.

Upper Sandusky used to play in the Northern Ohio League. In fact, I did, too, back in the day. The Rams were one of the smaller schools in the conference. Recently they joinded a new league in the area with two divisions. The Crawford County schools forseeing a drop in talent, decided to break from the new league and start another league without the Rams, Ontario, and Galion. Now they have to join yet another league.

If I am betting man, the Rams are probably going to be in for a long night. It is what it is. Quite simply, Hartley is athletic, fast, strong, and well coached. They also have some legit Division I level college players. But the Rams are in the playoffs and that is really huge for the community.

There will be some more  "Upper Sandusky's" playing tomorrow and Saturday night. Teams who are going to simply be out matched will be playing throughout the state. Upper Sandusky finished 7-3. Many teams in Ohio would love to have the 7-3 record. Many teams in Ohio would love to have been preparing for a playoff game this week but are not. Many teams in Ohio would love the challenge of proving themselves against a higher ranked team. Finally, many communities would love to experience the excitement of a playoff game.

As for me, Ohio did not have the playoff system back in the 60's. We would have had no chance anyway. We were not very good my senior year. In fact, we were getting hammered against Shelby. At half-time, our coach said,"If you want to quit and go home, go." Twelve players started taking off their uniforms. As a head coach, the playoffs had not been expanded yet. We never were good enough to make it. Now, my youngest son played at Kenton in the "Ben Mauk" years. Enough said.

Good luck to the Rams. In fact, good luck to all of the teams in the Playoffs, especially the underdog teams. Play hard. Most of all, do not forget the season that you had just to make the playoffs. Do not forget all of the sweat, as well as the fun that had as a team. Most of all, do not forget that there are roughly 523 high schools in Ohio that will be watching games this weekend, instead of playing.

Go Upper Sandusky Rams.