|« A&T's Lee: We're Selling a Brand-New Era||Delaware Names Offensive Coordinator »|
High School Coaches Tread Fine Line in Recruiting
Most seek to offer advice without trying to influence player’s decision.
When it comes to recruiting, nothing surprises longtime Pelion coach Ben Freeman.
But every once in a while, he hears of a coach being more influential in a player’s college decision than he needed to be.
Signing with a college program isn’t as easy as it appears for high school seniors in any sport. For football in the South, however, a great many people hang on a recruit’s every word in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day. Everyone, including teammates and coaches, provides input on the recruit’s decision.
The latter is cause for concern when the coach has a motive.
“There are some (coaches who pushed players to sign with a program),” Freeman said. “I’d like to think that that doesn’t happen often. Maybe a coach had a bad experience with a school during recruiting process that might make him lead that kid in a different direction.
Sumter coach Paul Sorrells, who played at Furman, has sent more than a dozen players to major colleges. He said all he does is listen, give sound advice and allow the family to choose.
“I make it very clear by constantly repeating it to my players that I have one agenda,” said Sorrells, whose star running back, Roderick McDowell, is expected to sign with Clemson on Wednesday. “I’m there to help them make the best decision they could make. What I care about is that they go somewhere that is suitable and they’re happy.”
Sorrells added that in today’s recruiting, once a recruiter makes contact with a player, the high school coach isn’t as involved.
“I try to stay in the process as much as I can, but once the college makes that connection, what I tell my guys and parents is ‘Look, I don’t want to get in your business. I would do everything in I can to help you sort through everything so you can make the best situation you can.”
Former South Carolina quarterback Steve Taneyhill has been on both sides of the process. As a high school senior, Taneyhill was one of the top recruits in the nation. As coach at Chesterfield High, he councils players when recruiters come calling.
“As a high school coach, you’re the first guy to get the kid’s name out there,” said Taneyhill, whose Rams won the Class A title for the second consecutive year in the fall. “As a coach you tend to gravitate toward those players, and there is a lot of mutual respect. I don’t think a coach says, ‘Hey, you should go here or there.’”
Taneyhill’s first big-time recruit was Gaines Adams, who signed with Clemson and became a first-round draft pick in the NFL.
“Gaines was at Fort Union when I got into the process with him,” said Taneyhill, who coached Adams at Cambridge Academy. “With him, I did what my dad did with me. I told him to list the pluses and minuses of each school and just go where your heart tells you to.”
Hundreds of high school seniors will mull their final choices during the next few days. Some will have changes of heart while others will stick with their oral commitments to a university.
In the background, watching with excitement, will be the high school coach. He, too, has an interest.
“Hey, we’re producers,” said Sorrells. “It doesn’t matter whose consuming the product.”
High school coaches tread fine line in recruiting
By Gerald Davis, The State (SC)