Organizing the madness
Make no mistake, Outlaw appreciates the interest in defensive tackle
Stafford, who also serves as Lufkin's defensive line coach, has dealt with the crush of college coaches and recruiting service reporters since 2001. He has helped high-profile recruits sift through dozens of scholarship offers. He has helped barely recruited players earn a free education and a chance to keep playing. Stafford is not alone. He is one of a growing number of high school assistants who have added -- usually at little or no additional pay -- the title of recruiting coordinator.
"An offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator are important to a program on Friday night," said
San Juan added a second title after the Nease staff visited Odessa (Texas) Permian -- the program chronicled in
At the time, Nease had several young players in the program that would draw interest from schools throughout the nation. Quarterback
Several years on the job have convinced San Juan that every program needs to assign an assistant to handle recruiting. At coaching clinics, San Juan delivers a Power Point presentation telling coaches how to create a recruiting coordinator position. The presentation includes advice about when to send game film, how to educate players about the NCAA Clearinghouse and how to convince parents and high school booster-club members that they need to help foot the bill for Web sites and film mailings.
Recruiting coordinators have two jobs. They must manage the sometimes overwhelming recruitments of the Tebows and the McFarlands, whose abilities sell themselves. The coordinators also must help match less recruited players with schools, which requires more work but also provides immense satisfaction.
San Juan proudly recalls sending out films and calling coaches on behalf of offensive lineman
"If you don't go to college or continue your education, you're going to be in trouble, or you're going to be in the woods cutting timber," said Stafford, who hopes to find scholarships for four more players before the school year ends. "There aren't a whole lot of options."
The first part of the job provides more notoriety, and sometimes, more headaches. The swarm of college coaches and interested reporters around a high-profile recruit can overwhelm a player and coach. Even a simple thing such as the information sheets produced by Stafford and San Juan for each recruit can save hours for a coach. For example, a coach recruiting Lufkin's McFarland can scan the information sheet and find McFarland's mother's name, the name of her employer and her work and home phone numbers. If they want to check McFarland's grades -- which are excellent, according to the info sheet -- his guidance counselor's number is at the coach's fingertips. If not for the sheets, Stafford said, "We would have to tell 115 schools that information two or three times each."
"College coaches can be needy sometimes," Gadsden (Ala.) City High head coach
Smith, who grew up in Gadsden and played at Alabama State, said he learned plenty during the past year while working with defensive end
"You want to give them equal time," Smith said. "You want to treat them fairly."
Smith's experience with Harris taught him much, and Smith intends to use what he learned this year as cornerback
"It's going to be more of a come through me for interviews," Smith said. "[Reporters] were browbeating [Harris] on his personal phone. Everyone had just worn him plum out. We're going to try to hold Dre and Kendall closer to the vest."
Sometimes, the recruiting coordinator can land in the middle of a controversy.
"I don't care where my kids go, as long as they know there are options out there," Sonsini said. "The final decision comes down to them and their families."
Sonsini said his job -- for better or worse -- is to assist his players and limit the headaches for Seraphs head coach
That's why Sonsini and his fellow recruiting coordinators are still at work a week after Signing Day, trying to help the blue-chippers of the Class of 2009 narrow their choices and trying to find scholarships for the less recruited members of the Class of 2008.
"Those are the challenges," Sonsini said. "Those are the ones that make me feel good."