Friday, February 21, 2014

Some Thoughts on Recruiting Media

        As parents and coaches know, I am not a big supporter of internet recruiting reporters who are always trying to be the first to break the news about a high school football recruit. I realize that college coaches use them to get inside information, but I just feel that some recruiting reporters go over the line.
        I call recruits once in a while to get personal information, if I happen to be writing a story on them. I return calls, if a parent or player has a question. Sometimes I have to explain that I am not one of those guys looking for the edge. I remember last year, after I convinced Moeller's Hubbard that was not interested in his schools of choice, or what college coaches were telling him, we had a nice 20 minute visit comparing lacrosse and football.
       I received an email about a high school coach decrying recruiting hype with one of his players. Damien Harris, a top running back from Madison Southern in Kentucky is rethinking his commitment to Michigan. Of course, the "recruiting experts" were all over the story. Head coach Joe Clark is annoyed.
       "It's been ridiculous," said Clark, who did not  like it that some media felt  they had a right to know everything about Harris' decision and that some fans were critical.
       "People think that they have a right to know every little that's going on all of the time. People forget that he is a 16 year old kid, and I had to tell them to back off and be respectful. If he wants to be private about stuff, we're going to be private about stuff, whether they like it or not."
        Clark said he also has a message for college fans and media. "A kid will never make a decision to go somewhere because of the fans or the media. But kids will make a decision not to go places because of that."
        "People think they have a right to have access to these kids because they are on social media. But they don't. They are  kids, not adults. And they don't have a right to have access to them."
         His thoughts were interesting and somewhat enjoyable. He might as well be talking to Hunter, my lab, because things will get worse before they get better. A reporter from New Jersey texts recruits during school hours. Another reporter, here in Ohio, makes up parts of his stories. Some recruiting reporters actually tell recruits to which college programs they should be  thinking about committing.
        College coaches, as I mentioned earlier, use recruiting writers to get information to and from the recruit. Big business and sometimes an ugly business. The more a social media person writes about a prospect who favors his school, the better publicity for a coach.
       Joe Clark had some good points, but football recruiting can also be good. The high school player, if he is being recruited, must have played some good football. The high school player, if he is being recruited,  is getting recognition for his high school. A  high school player, if he is being recruited, gives recruiting fans, something to talk about. Finally, a high school player, if he is being recruited, helps recruiting experts make a lot of money.
       I have always believed that a top football recruit is really in control. Media needs him. The colleges really need him. Top recruiting camps need him.
       My advice is simple. Put everything in perspective. Do not get "blown away" when a college coach talks to you. Have as much fun with the recruiting process, as possible. Bottom line - "Big is not always better." Put everything in perspective.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NIKE Combine is a Start

       Last Saturday, I spent four hours standing in one spot at the NIKE Combine in Massillon, Ohio. Not because of laziness or injury, but because NIKE does a really good job of not letting anyone not involved in the combine to get near the competitors. There were some recruiting reporters nearer the testing, but that means nothing to me.
      Building relationships is a serious part of what I do. Relationships between parents and me, relationships between players and me, and relationships between the high school coach and me. I do not call recruits to see how college visits went, or to get insight about their choice of colleges, or to beg to be the first to know what college they have chosen.
      I like to get to know a recruit, just in case he has questions that his high school coach cannot answer. Much the same way with parents, but they  sometimes do not involve the high school coach.
     At Massillon, I stood at the exit for four hours to see recruits as they left the testing site. This is always a good place to talk with parents. Also nice, because I do not bother the NIKE people and they do not bother me. Plus, I am not in their league.
      The NIKE people have the system down. They are well organized and run players through the testing really well. Everything is computerized. The players get a well informed card at the end of testing to take home with them.
      Everybody is tied in with each other. A guy who works with the National College Scouting Association told me that NCSA is necessary in today's world. Of course, I disagree, but no big deal. Paying large sums of money to "get your name out there," is silly to me. Student Sports is involved in a huge way. Marketing is amazing. I heard that Football University is connected. Also the National Underclassman Combine.
      Speaking of silly, I talked a lady who traveled from Philadelphia, PA, a family who traveled from Wisconsin, one from Kentucky, and the list goes on. I asked them why they came so far. "Exposure." I a player needs to travel across states to get exposure, I question what his coach is doing to help him. What concerns me some is the fact some of the players who travel will struggle to make D-2 football. But it is none of my business. A player (2015) from Maryland did really well. One of the top SPARQ scores. Measured 5'7-153. Better be special.
      The NIKE Combine would be the one that I would suggest football players attend. More so, if a player is a freshman or sophomore, I think that I would go. Get the experience. Learn the system. The numbers that you put up as a 9th or 10th grader will not hurt you. Colleges also realize that a player will grow taller and gain weight. Some of the recruiting experts disagree, but colleges realize that a player is young and that it was February 15. Get the experience.
      The SPARQ score is a nice way to measure overall ability. You can run a slow time, but do well in the power ball to balance that slow time. SPARQ scores show a winner and a ranking. Players feel a need to win something. Marketing has made it a well known way to test.
      Finally, as I tell the players who come to my combines. Regardless of scores and tests and measurement results, football is still played in pads. To get a scholarship , players still have to execute on the field. Times and measurements are nice, but players still have to tackle, run, catch and block.
     The NIKE Combine is nice.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two Top 2016 Prospects at Elder

       For three weeks I have been trying to get to a Cincinnati Elder basketball game. Weather, of course, a huge factor. Plus, getting to Elder High School is a job. Elder playing at Kettering Alter saved me much hassle. I believe that Elder has two of the most high profiled sophomores in Ohio. Just sophomores, but unlimited football potential.
      First- Good to see senior Devin Pike. Listed 6'5-230, I have watched him grow and mature as both a football player and a hoops guy. Strong, tough, and athletic. When he was young, thought maybe he would be a DE, but really like him at TE. Plays hard and competes hard. Good hands and gets into the seam well. Believe that he "flipped" and now is going to Wake Forest. With his potential to get bigger, he could play different positions, but he is a football player.
    OL Tommy Kraemer (2016) played junior varsity. My reason for arriving early just to sit through a j-v game. Listed 6'5-285, and is every bit of that. Runs okay for a big man, but gets up and down the court. Strong and handles his weight well. Competes hard. Solid feet. Needs to be a better knee bender. Needs to continue to work on quickness. A sophomore, but if he keeps working on quickness, bending and pass pro, he will be one of my top OL guys in his Class of 2016.
     Joe Schroer (2016) is a name to remember on Elder's football team. Another sophomore, but liked his athleticism and toughness last fall. He was sick and did not make the trip last Tuesday. WR Nick Hall (2016) started the last three games for Elder last fall. Listed 6'2-170. Played j-v basketball, but he is one I need to see next fall.
      Peyton Ramsey (2016), listed 6'3-180 (just under 6'3) started fro the varsity basketball team and contributed. Kind of an off-guard. Competes and plays smart. Liked his burst. Good quickness. Liked his basketball presence. But, Peyton will be one of the top three QB's in the Class of 2016. Watched him his first varsity game last fall. Football smart. Like his throwing motion. Good feet. Good balance. Can find the open receiver. Athletic. Enough speed to escape in the pocket. Carries a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. No show time for him. Just gets it done.
      Whether good or bad, Peyton's dad is long time Elder head football coach, Doug Ramsey. I say that to be humorous, because Coach Ramsey and I have a good relationship and he has my respect. By the time he graduates, Peyton will be a tough, disciplined, smart QB. Reminds me of Coach Mike Mauk's relationship with Ben and Maty.
      Usually, I would have covered players on both teams in one blog. Both Kettering Alter and Cincinnati Elder have very good college football prospects, who also play hoops. Both teams deserve their own space.

Howe, Coleman, and Lemon - Solid 2015 Alter Guys

        The Alter - Elder game was a fast moving, aggressive basketball game, played by some excellent athletes. Players get up and down the court. Of course, I am always really interested in the football players playing hoops. Back in the day, I was an intramural star, but not quite fast enough to play organized ball, but I could shoot. Off the subject, back to football players.
        The first player who I saw was one of the prospects that I wanted to see play. Bad news. DL Kraig Howe (2015) is battling mono. If things go well, he will be back playing in March. Have liked him a long time. Excellent burst off LOS. Good bender. Finds the football. Needs to get better, but I like his change of direction. Listed 6'3-250. Has an offer from Northwestern. My concern is  as he gets bigger and heavier, will he be able to keep his quickness. Motor runs well.
        DB Nick Coleman (2015) impressed me last fall in a football uniform. Fast, excellent burst. Listed 6'0-160 and looks that tall. Good hips. Like the way he changes direction. Good stop and go moves. Ran the ball a lot last year, but looks to be a corner. Competes hard. Solid shooter with a basketball. Runs, runs, and runs.
        DE Dean Lemon (2015) is listed 6'4-225. Athletic. Gets up and down the court. Liked him last fall. Comes off the edge. Needs to keep getting stronger. Like his potential, but just as in football, he needs to be more aggressive at times. Of course, all "bigs" should be hammering the boards. Dean looks to be a really good kid, but needs to make his presence know at times. Good prospect.
        Watched the junior varsity game and liked sophomore Nick Balent. Listed 6'1-255 and moved well for a young big man. Liked his toughness. Only a sophomore. Have never seen him in football pads.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tyler Gerald - Good Old Southern Boy

       In a few minutes, I am going to Dayton, more specifically Kettering Alter High School some highly rated football players play basketball. Cincinnati Elder is making the trip to Alter. Everybody knows where Dayton is located, and can probably guess where Kettering is located. But, how many people can find Sciotoville Community School? Clue - this school used to be Portsmouth East High School.
      Last Saturday night I watched Portsmouth Clay take on Sciotoville. Clay does not have football and Sciotoville averages about 40 players, grades 9-12. Of course. many of the students play both basketball and football. A blind squirrel can find players at Glenville, Moeller, or Steubenville. A school with  40 players???
      The player that I wanted to see is Tyler Gerald. Listed 6'5-295 and a member of the Class of 2016, he will be on everybody's list, before too long. If not, colleges are making a mistake. His name was mentioned to me a few months ago. Video looked good. Really glad that I made the trip. Colleges should not be skeptical of doing their homework on him.
      Runs pretty well, but his quickness on the floor impresses me. He uses his body well. Good balance. On the football video, I liked his explosion. A solid bender. Gets out and leads well. Needs to improve pass blocking technique, but almost every linemen in Ohio needs to improve that area. Probably the most interesting point is that he has only played competitive basketball for two years, but has picked up the sport.  Really has a nice shot.
      After the first half I told his football coach that I liked him, but I would like to see him move more laterally. Underneath in 2-3 zone, makes it easy for a big man. Also, in my mind,. I wished he would be a little more aggressive and show just a little more effort. I mean, Tyler is a big, strong cat and competitive. But I thought that he was a prospect.
       I always like to watch prospects, in both football and basketball play a few minutes at the beginning of the second half. Glad I did that night. Tyler was a different animal. Drove the basket, made shots, and played aggressive defense. Good burst up the court. Moved well. All this, with his team down 20.
       As he continues to improve his quickness and overall agility, Tyler continue to get better and better ratings. A definite Division 1 prospect now. If he gets lazy, or listens to all of the "noise" that is to come, then I worry.
       A another name to watch is freshman, Akia Brown. An RB/DB, Akia has excellent quickness and jumping ability. Starts on the varsity. Just a freshman, but I liked his presence. His father played at Portsmouth High School and in college. One to watch.
       Without going into details, I respect what Tyler Gerald is doing both off and on the playing field. Carries a 3.5+ and was really good to talk with for just a few minutes.
        The trip was worthwhile, but what a "speed trap" on 23. Watched my first ever winter homecoming at Clay High School.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ohio Football Players Can Get Additonal Instruction

       Much was accomplished last week with football players being able to get instruction on football skills during the school months and not just during  June 1 thru July 31. Hopefully, Ohio high school football players trying improve in the off season will now be able to do that, without fear of losing eligibility.
        As many people know we had a QB/REC Camp scheduled for late in December, only to be told to the OHSFCA Directors by the OHSAA assistant commissioner for football that it was a violation. Only to be told to me  personally the same thing - It would be a violation.
       Over the years, I have always been told that QBs throwing to receivers at my combines  was okay as long as it was just one on one, but definitely no 7on7, or even two on two. I was fine with that. No problem. That was part of my thinking as to why I thought everything was good for the Camp.
       Also, I was aware of OHSAA Regulation 8.3 which reads: Individual skill instruction may be received in any sport by a squad member at any time in individual lessons from non-school coaches provided that these individual skill instructions do not violate the Board of Education, school administrators' or coaches' policies. The rest of Regulation 8.3 concerns the coach, but that has been modified and does not concern my situation. This was my other reason for organizing the event.
       But the assistant commissioner told me that Regulation 7.8 was in effect. No mention was made of Regulation 8.3. I was only told to refer to Regulation 7.8.
       Regulation 7.8 states After a student becomes a member of an inter-scholastic football squad, that student may not participate in non-scholastic football, including contest, tryouts and any type of training or practices during the school year. From June 1 through July 31, members of an interscholastic football squad may participate in non-contact football contests, tryouts or any type of training and practices and attend non contact team football camps or instructional camps.
       A point of interest here is what word do you see in Regulation 7.8 that you do not see in Regulation 8.3. Of course, "football." .
       The Regulation to refer to is now 8.3. Ohio high school football players can continue to get outside instruction and can attend camps and combines. My concern is that the assistant commissioner with emphasis on football, will not get this new information emailed to the high school athletic directors in a timely manner. By the emails and calls that I have received, there was much concern throughout the state.
       I really want to thank an athletic director of a large private school in Cleveland for his call to the OHSAA, because he wanted to be sure of the ruling that I was given. I, also want to thank a person from a university in Ohio for calling a member of the OHSAA about the ruling. You can be sure that John McCallister was not going to win any disagreement with OHSAA. Shoot, I can not even get on the sidelines of the OHSAA football playoffs, because I consider myself a "scout," and there is a definite rule that scouts cannot be on the sidelines. I am the only scout  in Ohio.
      The bottom line is that I want kids, regardless of the sport, to be able to be as good as they can be. I do not care if it is swimming, golf, track, gymnastics, or any sport. I do not care if it is a boys' sport or a girls' sport. I do not care about the comment that only a small percentage go onto to college sport. Kids need a chance to be as good as they can be.
      For football, do you realize that with the Regulation 7.8, football players could not receive any football training from December until June 1? Do you know, until a recent rule change that a football high school football player could not (legally)  work football related instruction drills with his high school coach from December until June 1?
 The Regulation to follow now is 8.3. That is the best news!!!.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Good News About Football Camps

       Really important news tonight. Sat in a meeting with the Regional Directors of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, as we prepared for OHSFCA Football Clinic. An assistant commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association gave me the answers to my questions, before I could ask them. The assistant commissioner did an excellent job explaining the rule.
       The Ohio Regulation 7.8 is not the rule that the OHSAA is using to govern football camps and combines during the school year. I believe the Regulation is Rule 8.3 concerning instruction. Tomorrow I will try to verify just which rule that is in effect, but it is not 7.8.
       The good news is that football camps and combines are okay. Combines have always been good, but there was some question about football skills camps.
        More later. McCallister's combines and camps are on.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Lot of Subjects - No Content

This really sounds silly, but I have made many blog attempts this morning. But I could not get comfortable with any efforts. The subjects were about:      
      1. Not taking all, of the Five Star rankings seriously. It is a business. For the people rating the prospects, have they talked with each recruit personally, have they watched him workout in person, and have they only seen the prospect on a highlight video, which should be good? Very few have actually seen a prospect  in an actual game. Many use a college coach's opinion, or the schools top list. Do not worry about the accuracy of the "Five Star" list.
      2. Mel Kiper grading Seattle's draft last year a D-, and those same players just won the Super Bowl. Smile at Kiper's uneducated opinion.
      3. Comments made by colleges recruiting reporters on tomorrow's recruits. If a reporter says anything negative, do you think he or she will still be a college coach's pipeline to get inside information on a player that he is recruiting. Of course, the college coach gives the recruiting reporter some inside information that the coach has about a recruit. Yes, it goes on.
      4. The good and bad of "flipping." Very disappointed that a receiver in southwest Ohio "flipped" to go to a BCS school. But understand why an OL guy in northeast Ohio flipped from a BCS school in the Midwest to a mid-major. Can never quite figure why a BCS school did not offer a recruit three months ago, instead of offering him in January. Was the recruit a "B list" guy? Of course, I know the answer.
      5. The Nike combine next weekend in Massillon is probably a good experience, but do not worry too much about your results. It is February, and you have until June to impress the college coaches.
      6. Does a parent have to spend "too" much money on a college recruiting service? Next week at the Nike Combine, the National College Scouting Association or NCSA will market you to death. A huge network with a major marketing network. Be aware of the cost.
      7. Do not  panic just yet about the OHSAA's Rule Ohio Sports Regulation 7.8. Hopefully there may be some changes made.
      8. Are the best college football recruiters always from the more high profiled college programs? Can a recruiter at a "Mid-major, or a MAC level school be a better recruiter and evaluator than say a coach at Notre Dame or Penn State? Of course.
      9. The MSROHIO Developmental Combine is a good learning experience, plus a player's name will go out there to college coaches the right way. Our 40 yards is actually 40 yards and not 37 yards. We do things the honest and right way.
     10. My good friend Mike Mauk, former head football coach at Kenton High School is in the process of retiring from Ohio public schools and moving to Missouri. At Springfield, Missouri he will be the new head football coach at one of the schools. He will two hours from the University of Missouri, where Maty is a quarterback. Better yet, he will be 15 minutes from his grandson.
       Like I said, I just could not do justice on any of these subjects. More about some players tomorrow.
      Always fun for me to meet and work with high school football players. Something that I truly enjoy. Every year, signing date is always exciting, because it is a new beginning for so many young people. Although I do not watch as many college games as I should, watching Ohio players play college ball is enjoyable.
       The very best to all of the Ohio high school football players who sign "letters of intent" tomorrow. Football will become a business, but at the same time, it is still just a game and have fun.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Another Trip to Keystone

        Last night I took in the varsity basketball game between host Keystone versus Wellington. Really wanted to watch CJ Conrad from Keystone and Bryce Gibbs from Wellington. Both juniors, both coming from smaller football programs, but both are D-1 college football prospects. I have seen both before, so I knew what I was looking for last night. Right now, CJ is just little ahead of Bryce.
        Almost a year ago to the date, I watched CJ play basketball. Liked his potential, if he worked hard to bigger and stronger. He has worked hard. Listed 6'5-225, he has amazing burst getting up and down the floor. In fact, he had a 'dunk,"but was called for a "T" for hanging on the rim. Almost a "tom-a-hawk." Has really improved change of direction. On the football, he catches everything. Also has the same ability to climb to get the high passes. Should be TE, with ability to move out to slot. Reminds me a lot of Michigan's Jake Butt, who prepped at Pickerington North. Has some offers and I think Indiana may be one. Needs to add some weight, but should be able to do that.
     Wellington's Bryce Gibbs did not see much action, but I really liked what I saw. Good frame and carries his weight well. Listed 6'5-285 and needs to improve overall speed. Showed excellent character last night, in that, even though he did not play much, he encouraged his teammates and is a team player. No pouting! Like his blocking skills on his recent highlight video. Good bender. If such a thing, Bryce is almost too nice. Coming to one of my combines in March. After that I will be able to tell more about his effort. Needs to get in front of college coaches this summer. Like his scholarship potential, but he may have to "bite" some this summer.
      Neither CJ nor Bryce  are going to have Coach Thad Matta visiting anytime soon. But I learned some things last night about both prospects. CJ is a team player and a solid leader. Hustles and can really explode. Bryce is more reserved. Like his frame and his footwork for a big OL guy. As with CJ, a lot of good character genes.
       No basketball games tonight. Going to D-1. Next Tuesday, I am traveling a long way to see a big OL guy prospect who is in the Class of 2016.