R ecruiting Cla ss

Coaches are learning right along with players when it comes to the complicated rules of bigtime college recruiting
BY BILL MARTIN Reporter Sports Editor

Rockdale football players are fortunate that unlike most of their peers, they have a Sherpa guide to steer them through the increasingly difficult college recruiting waters in the form of Jeff Miller.

Not unlike some of his charges, the Tigers’ Athletic Director / football coach was a blue chip quarterback recruit by the end of his senior season at Cypress Fairbanks and had his choice of colleges to attend.

Miller is able to call on that experience and has come in handy as three of his players have given verbal commitments to play football at Texas Tech.

And despite being regulated to the nth degree by the NCAA, Miller thinks it has gotten worse—not better.

Miller recalls the recruiting process during his senior year of 1986.

The further he led his team in the playoffs, the more interest there was.

“Our phone rang from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night—continually,” he said. “We got to know who it was by the time they called. That must be coach so-and-so from Arkansas. At first it was fun—then it became a nuisance.

University of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has become a constant presence in Rockdale coach Jeff Miller’s life since the Tigers’ Derek David was named the best defensive player in the Class of 2012. University of Texas photo University of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has become a constant presence in Rockdale coach Jeff Miller’s life since the Tigers’ Derek David was named the best defensive player in the Class of 2012. University of Texas photo “It was extremely distracting.”

These days, recruiters can not call or text players, but players can text and call all they want. So guess who becomes a de facto telephone operator from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.? Their coaches.

“I get calls all the time from coaches,” Miller said. “Tell Derek to call me. Tell LeRaven to call me.

“Now, I’m not complaining. I would do anything in the world for these guys.”

Because Cypress Fairbanks went 15 games deep in the playoffs and didn’t finish until a week before Christmas, Miller didn’t have time to take his visits and had to cram them in during a short period of time.

He narrowed it down to Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Nebraska.

He really wanted to go to A&M, but couldn’t stand the Aggies’ narcissistic head coach Jackie Sherrill.

He chose Nebraska.

“I really should have gone to Texas Tech, but it was hard to turn down Nebraska because they were the top program in the country at the time.”

Miller thinks at the heart of the problem is that players are allowed to commit in their sophomore and junior years, but can not take any “official” visits until Sept. 1 of their senior years.

And because the recruiting process has become such a race to sign, kids are being forced to make a life changing decision without having all the necessary information in front of them.

And more importantly, it puts those who cannot afford to travel around the country and stay in hotels at a distinct disadvantage.

“It’s not fair,” Miller says. “A kid is not going to commit somewhere he hasn’t seen.”

Fortunately for Tigers LeRaven Clark and Derek David, Miller along with defensive coordinator Jim Kerbow, was able to load them up in his truck and haul them to Lubbock, Fort Worth, College Station and Oklahoma to take a look.

The Tigers do have their own recruiting coordinator in offensive coordinator and head track coach Brent Hasselbach.

He does actually receive a stipend for the work he does.

Hasselbach is responsible for putting together the highlight reels that get put on the recruiting services web sites like Rivals. com.

And, when a coach comes for a visit, he has his choice of which player’s highlights he wants to watch which are already cued up on the television set in Miller’s office.

“This is so much better than sending out a bunch of tapes that for the most part, will never be seen,” Miller said.

For instance, Derek David first

started getting noticed while been provided.

coaches were watching Clark’s highlight reel. width.

Clark and David have committed to Texas Tech. Another Rockdale player, Logan David, is going to play at Tech as well when he is through playing at Blinn.

“We as coaches tried to stay out of the decision making process,” Miller said, “only to tell them that this decision will influence the rest of your life.”

The day after Derek David committed, Miller received an early morning call from Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

Muschamp had gotten a call from head coach Mac Brown who had seen on line that David had committed early.

“He wanted to k now what was going on and I had told him before that where LeRaven went would have a lot of bearing on where Derek would go,” Miller said. “These are real simple minded kids. They are looking for comfort.”

In Clark’s case, he was forced to commit because the Red Raiders were down to one scholarship, despite the fact that he was their No. 1 lineman priority.

“He had to commit before he could take any official visits,” said Miller. “This young man didn’t have the opportunity to look around and visit UCLA or Nebraska or Ohio State or schools like that.

“This is not a decision a 16-year old kid like Derek should have to be making right now. Couldn’t it be made his senior year when he is a little bit older?” Miller believes that if you are going to allow early commitments, you should be allowed to make “Oofficial” visits after your junior season.

He also believes coaches should be allowed to call during the season to give players more time to adjust.

“It was distracting, but it’s part of the fun.”

Miller will make one bold prediction.

“Two years after the class of 2010 has graduated, LeRaven Clark will be the best offensive lineman that graduated in that class.

“Everybody always talks about his upside. It’s limitless.”

Miller also believes that the media—recruiting services especially— fuel the recruiting feeding frenzy.

A lot of that has to do with the star rating system used to rate players

“Most coaches will tell you they hate early commitment because they are almost forced to take a five star recruit despite what they think of them or whether they even need him or not.

“But if a newspaper writer or alumni look on that list and see they haven’t taken a five-star or even signed a four or three star, they’re going to hear about it one way or another.

“They don’t have time to wait and see if a kid is going to be a great one or not. And, they don’t have to take a ‘prospect’.”

It’s not over for Miller either, junior-to-be running back Daniel Brooks is already getting interest and has already been offered a scholarship by New Mexico.

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