Last week, Rice University picked up a valuable commitment from high school quarterback JT Granato by sending a letter... to his cat. The letter, sent to Kitty Granato, read "As you know we’re trying to convince J.T. Rice is the place for him. I know you’d like to keep him close so he can feed you and change the litter box."
Ridiculous? Yes. Absurd? Undoubtedly. Is it the boldest tactic we've ever seen? Well, I don't know about that.
Below is a brief collection of some of the most absurd college football recruiting tactics that coaches have recently attempted. As you'll see, they range from the lavish, to the bizarre, to the downright Pelini.
Mike London's Stalker-ish Recruiting Letter
While Mike London's Virginia teams haven't found much success on the field, the coach has proven to be a solid competitor on the recruiting trail. London's secret may very well be confusing the hell out high schoolers, if this letter he sent 3-star commit Jeffrey Farrar last December is any indication:
If I got a letter like this, I would probably be inclined to file a restraining order. But to London's credit, Farrar did sign a letter of intent with UVA in February.
It should be noted that London's nonsensical letter was only slightly more absurd than the note that current Michigan player Michael Ferns got from Mississippi State in 2013:
Kevin Sumlin's Swagcopter
Kevin Sumlin didn't take much time at all to turn the Aggies into the top recruiting power in Texas, in no small part because of this "swagcopter" that he's shown off at high schools around the state to woo potential players.
New look for #Swagcopter this week. 11.30.13. #teamadidas @AggieFootball @AggieFBLife @adidasUS pic.twitter.com/btu67c3j0A
— Michael Ehrlich (@adidasUSPRGuy) November 27, 2013
I can't decide whether this helicopter looks like a zebra, a newspaper or another surefire top 10 recruiting class.
Although the image in the tweet above is a photoshop, the Swagcopter is all too real, as evidenced by the video below:
Joker Phillips Made the Connection Between His Name and Batman, So He Decided to Beat That Horse To Death
Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips has been using his name and photoshop in order to entice (and likely creep the hell out of a few) recruits:
Come Join The Jokers. #comeplaywrforthejoker pic.twitter.com/OcbyOhgdFn
— Joker Phillips (@jokerphillips) May 16, 2013
The message is CLEAR. It's now on YOU. #ComePlayWRforTheJoker @TreyBurton8 @QuintonDunbar1 @Pitt_2time @AndreDeBose4 pic.twitter.com/xkYPYgeosh
— Joker Phillips (@jokerphillips) April 15, 2013
As everyone in GatorNation awoke. The Joker awaits everyone on the field to come out & play #comeplaywrforthejoker pic.twitter.com/udkcq7yszg
— Joker Phillips (@jokerphillips) April 8, 2013
IT'S TIME TO COME PLAY WR FOR THE JOKER! #ComePlayWRForTheJoker #GatorNation #SpreadTheWord pic.twitter.com/jPTkKEX0rF
— Joker Phillips (@jokerphillips) March 27, 2013
I don't even know.
Former N.C. State Coach Chuck Amato Called a Recruit That Committed to Another School and Sung to Him
In 2002, top North Carolina cornerback recruit A.J. Davis committed to UNC a week before signing day. The news prompted then-North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato to call Davis and start singing Dean Martin's "Return to Me":
The best part? It worked. Davis ultimately signed with the Wolfpack, where he started 23 games.
Lane Kiffin and Co. Get Primal
While it may have gotten lost amongst all of the other shenanigans that have been associated with Lane Kiffin in the past five years, his recruiting tactics at Tennessee were quite unorthodox to say the least. Before he even coached a game, Kiffin openly called out then-Florida coach Urban Meyer for alleged recruiting violations and it was also revealed that he encouraged two of the school's hostesses to visit recruits at a high school in South Carolina. But the story below, as detailed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, may very well be the most bizarre strategy Kiffin utilized in order to lure talent to Knoxville:
Douglass defensive lineman Garrison Smith said the lights in the room dimmed. “This one coach stayed behind and walked to the side of the room. Then he kept slamming the [side] doors, as if the other assistant coaches were trying to break it down. It was like an angry dog or some wild animals were on the other side.”
After a few moments, Smith said the doors swung open and the Tennessee assistants ran into the room. “By now, three or four coaches had their shirts ripped off.” Smith said around 10 Tennessee players, including All-America defensive back Eric Berry of Atlanta and quarterback Jonathan Crompton, ran down from behind the recruits to meet the coaches on the floor. “Eric and the rest of the players were chanting ‘U-T, wild boys … U-T, wild boys … U-T wild boys.’” This time, prospects left their seats and joined the celebration. “We were all jumping up and down together, it was cool,” McCoy said.
After things appeared to calm down, Tennessee recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron gave a rousing pep talk, which caused the whole scene to repeat itself, only more intense. “The last time, everybody was hyped up and feeling it,” Loganville tailback Storm Johnson said. “People were jumping all over the place. It was rocking. You should’ve seen it. Even the podium got knocked over.”
All four of the players said they never saw Lane Kiffin lose his shirt. “He was on the side, just watching and smiling,” Vogler said.
Straight Up Forgery
On January 15, 2003, Gary Campbell had a pretty eventful evening to say the least. On his way to visit junior college recruit J.J. Arrington, Campbell got a call from his wife who told him she had just hit a jackpot on a slot machine at a casino and won almost $2.7 million. As one can imagine, this news gave Campbell a spring in his step and when he went to visit Arrington. Campbel thought the two of them had "made a connection," and that's where things got even more complicated. Apparently, Oregon had a January 15 deadline for junior college recruits to sign, and that date happened to pass the evening that Campbell visited Arrington. According to the L.A. Times:
The midnight deadline passed and Arrington still had not signed. Furthermore, Arrington told Campbell that he had changed his mind and wanted to attend California. Campbell went to the hotel where Arrington was staying, and the player forged his father's signature and falsified the time on the letter of intent.
After an NCAA investigation into the matter, Arrington was released by Oregon and Campbell was suspended for a week and not allowed to recruit off-campus for an entire year. He remains at Oregon, where he is the longest-tenured coach at any school in the FBS. Oh, also he's a millionaire.
Nick Saban Sends Recruit 105 Letters in a Day
I can only imagine how flattering it is to be sent a personal letter from a top college football coach. What I can't imagine is being sent 105 letter from the top college coach in a single day. But running back Alvin Kamara was forced to deal with such flattery -- or whatever other term you'd use to describe someone sending you 105 letters in one day. Even more crazy is that, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, none of letters Kamara opened were duplicates. Each one had a new message or selling point about Alabama’s football program.
The ploy worked out for Bama -- sort of. Kamara indeed committed to the Crimson Tide, but decided to transfer after one season following a series of injuries and suspensions.
Last year Kentucky sent recruit Draw Barker 115 letters in one day, but while it's difficult to quantify the value of letters sent from grown men to teenagers, I'm inclined to believe: 105 Nick Saban letters > 115 letters from anyone else in the free world.
Mark Richt Sends Hand Drawn Portrait to Recruit
In April, a few Georgia football recruits began posting hand-drawn portraits on Instagram that were signed by none other than Georgia football coach Mark Richt. Top rated recruit D'Andre Walker received the sketch below in the mail:
Here's an actual picture of D'Andre:
It's... not bad actually. I think Richt might have a kindred spirit:
Bo Pelini Wrestles with a Recruit in His Living Room
This one is sadly believable.
During a recruiting visit to Highland, Illinois, Bo Pelini decided to make an impression on 6'4", 315 lb offensive lineman Tanner Farmer by challenging the young man to a wrestling match in his living room.
Here's the entire anecdote, as told by Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald:
I bet you can't take me down, Pelini joked with Tanner. Farmer hesitated. Pelini is pretty tall and in good shape. But he's not a wrestler.
Go on, boy, Brian [Tanner's father] told his son. If he wants to go, go.
You scared to take me down? Pelini said to Tanner.
The strongest player in Nebraska's 2014 class got Pelini in a hold and lifted him up in the air. There, a potential takedown turned into a big hug between coach and player.
“It was a cool moment,” Brian said.
Farmer eventually signed a letter of intent with the Huskers, so you can chalk this one up as a win for Pelini, I suppose.
Georgia Tech Graduate Assistant Changes the Meme Game Forever
Resigned to the fact that they'll probably not be able to outcrazy all of the SEC schools that use several of the tactics highlighted on this list, Georgia Tech decided to launch "The Migration," a recruiting effort aimed at luring top players from the Northeast and Midwest to Atlanta.
It seems that Tech offensive graduate assistant Preston Pehrson decided that the best way to go about luring these recruits, who otherwise might not be familiar with Georgia Tech, was to flood the entire Twittersphere with misused memes and ill-conceived photoshops:
Bringing the Northern stars to the Southern star! #TheMigration! pic.twitter.com/tEgoH3ZDEn
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) February 26, 2013
Bringing the North to the South! #TheMigration! pic.twitter.com/2Xlr0SZyvC
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) February 22, 2013
Oh, this was just the start.
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) March 5, 2013
It will make you go crazy! #themigration pic.twitter.com/IxgOhzFwvy
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) March 6, 2013
The Migration isn't playing around! Get with it or get out of the way! pic.twitter.com/BDBrDAInfc
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) March 8, 2013
Then Pehrson decided that enough was enough and stopped posting memes.
Just kidding, there are like a thousand more:
Looks cold up North! #themigration pic.twitter.com/Es1svB9Rnx
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) March 4, 2013
#themigration is coming fast at the NCAA! Get with it or get attacked! #GTFootball pic.twitter.com/V2Q6YB7FcN
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) March 20, 2013
Gold Yellow Jacket! Produced by the migration #themigration pic.twitter.com/SFbfMDN1K5
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) March 23, 2013
Okay, one more:
Better let them know now #themigration #GTFootball pic.twitter.com/3mQGJvJWNp
— Coach Pehrson (@CoachPehrson) March 25, 2013
Oregon Creates Custom Comic Books for Recruits
In 2005, the Oregon coaching staff enlisted students to design 20 custom comic books for the Ducks top recruits. The results of the endeavor were somewhat mixed -- the Ducks ended up with only the 28th best class in the country -- but the team did land then 5-star running back Jonathan Stewart.
Here are a few excerpts from his comic book:
Okay, that's pretty cool. You can read the comic book in its entirety here. [*SPOILER ALERT*] Oregon wins.
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