Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kansas assistant football coach: Recruiting game has changed


Fans aren’t the only ones who obsesses over the perceived worth of an incoming football prospect.

“It amazes me that a kid gets caught up on (whether) he’s a three-star instead of a four-star,” said Kansas University linebackers coach Clint Bowen. “And he’s just in disbelief over it. It doesn’t matter, you know?”

Toward the end of last season, Bowen — a 13-year veteran of the recruiting trail — was asked about the current state of recruiting. To hear Bowen tell it, websites, including Twitter and Facebook, have taken over.

“The kids’ desire to be on (recruiting websites). The kids’ desire to gain offers, to gain recognition, to gain stars,” Bowen said of recruits’ motivation. “It used to be high school coach, mom and dad, and you talked to ’em, you sold your program, and they picked the things they liked.”

Bowen said KU approaches recruits the same way regardless of stars attached to their names.

“You just try to continue to sell the things that are positive about your program,” Bowen said. “I don’t think that ever changes. You sell the things that are good about your university, your program, your community, and the kids who are making decisions on the right criteria are the ones you want.”

Few places know better than Kansas, where a player such as former cornerback Aqib Talib entered the program as a two-star talent and left as a first-round NFL Draft pick.

With Signing Day less than 24 hours away, KU still has two open spots. It already is a ballyhooed class, mostly because of the large number of junior-college prospects — 18 of the 25 commitments are juco guys — and the fact that anywhere from five to seven of those junior-college standouts landed on several top-100 lists.

Most players in the class have been committed for weeks and, although other programs have come after a fair number of them, all of them seem to be solid on their non-binding commitments to KU, which will become official Wednesday, when each athlete signs a national letter of intent.

Weis to be part of Boys & Girls Club event

Weis has been selected to be the keynote speaker for tonight’s Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence’s Youth of the Year banquet, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Lied Center.

The event, a national program that highlights club members’ success in service, leadership and the development of positive personal character, is open to the public and will feature speeches from local leaders and the announcement of the 2013 Youth of the Year winner. The nominees are Ajala Anavberokhai and Jalyn Brecheisen.

Another all-star game for Hyman

KU commitment Ishmael Hyman, a 6-foot, 169-pound wide receiver from St. John Vianney High in Holmdel, N.J., will play for Team USA in the International Bowl at 8 tonight. The game will take place in Austin, Texas, and will be televised live on CBS College Sports.

The event marks the second postseason all-star game for the three-star wide receiver who last December earned MVP honors at the Chesapeake Bowl.

Hyman is expected to follow up the excitement from tonight’s game by waking up early Wednesday to sign and fax his letter of intent to KU.


Jim Erickson 5 years, 2 months ago

Great article!

I remember when I played high school football over a decade ago. Recruiting websites were just getting big and there was a guy on my team, and a few others in the KC Metro area, that were getting division 1 scholarships and they were local celebrities. It was already becoming a big deal but nothing like it is now with social networking and constant media updates. I have known about Matt Barkley for 5-6 years now, and he hasn't even played an NFL game!

Personally, I think the big boost in terms of the fame high school athletes are experiencing came when LeBron James was playing his high school games on ESPN. After that, it feels like the interest in high school kids exploded. Everyone is trying to find the next prodigy.

I never got my division 1 scholarship offers... Ohio State must have sent it to the wrong address! :)

Jim Erickson 5 years, 2 months ago

As for the "Star Debate": It feels as though KU football has mostly struck out with our 4 star kids. Opurum and McDougald were decent players but we seem to have had a lot of busts with guys like Nathan D'Cuhna, Anthony Webb, Prinz Kande, Rodney Allen, Brandon Duncan, Jocques "2,000 yards" Crawford and others.

Our best recruiting class, in my opinion, was in 2004... Talib, Collins, Rivera, Mortensen, McClinton, Cantrell, Fields, and a few others. Most of those guys were 2 star players! Reesing came later but was a 3 star, and barely one at that!

All that said... I don't consider the star rankings as perfect, but they are more valuable than what I wrote above would suggest. When you look at the top recruiting classes, you are usually looking at the top teams. Just look at our basketball team... No, it's not full of McDonald's All-Americans, but there are several top classes being represented with our team.

Andy Tweedy 5 years, 2 months ago

Ballyhooed? We are "arguably" in the top 40-50 per cent of college football recruiting classes! That doesn't really seem like "ballyhooed" to me...maybe "solid, considering how bad our record was last year."

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 2 months ago

Tait's been reading too much Bedore. Ballyhooed is Bedore's word.

Greg Woolen 5 years, 2 months ago

I have never read the word ballyhooed anywhere, any more than I have at

It is almost like that friend that uses the word phenomenal or literally in almost anything they describe. Please LJ World, I don't need another one of those friends.

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 2 months ago

The verticality and physicality of your statement really was phenomenal.

It seems like there is one word that every football basketball analyst has to use.

Steve Corder 5 years, 2 months ago

I understand Bowen. I'm glad I don't have to deal with teenage egos to keep my job!

CrystalJones 5 years, 2 months ago

I have no problem with anyone describing this year's class as "ballyhooed." Actually, that's just a synonym for "praised." And it has been praised, at least relative to our (not-so-great) tradition, recent record, and recruiting history. Love the Johnson and Jenkins-Moore kids, and if we can just pull in Savage I'll be very pleased.

CrystalJones 5 years, 2 months ago

Didn't know that. Tough loss for us. Oh well, find some other raw talent and let our coaches develop him I guess.

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 2 months ago

I always like that when the stars debate starts, everyone cites Aqib Talib. So basically in the past 8-10 years there has been one. I don't know if it sad for KU or sad for Aqib, but he doesn't even claim KU in the pre-game when you announce, which school you attended. I think of how wayward he has been at times, and I think good, no one knows he went to KU, but then on the other side, I'm always proud when a Jayhawk is in the Pros...always torn about him. I'm hoping the Prodigal Son returns.

HawkTronic 5 years, 2 months ago

I think Charles Gordon and Desmond Briscoe only had 2 ballyhoos out of High School. They did rather well.

actorman 5 years, 2 months ago

I didn't realize he doesn't claim KU. What does he say in the pre-game?

Dyrk Dugan 5 years, 2 months ago

Aqib is a great many two star guys, are 1st round draft picks? not many i assure you.

that being said, you know there are plenty of two and three star guys....that are just as talented as four star recruits....they've either been in trouble, a little undersized, or what not. otherwise, there would be no small college guys in the NFL....and we know there are plenty. (do you think the Ravens DB, who went to Washburn, could have played at Kansas?)

It's all getting the right fit...the right talent...and maximizing position and development in the program. that's it. if we are getting guys that other schools want, then that's good. if we're getting guys to visit, that other big time schools want, then that's good.

Recruiting is nothing but hard work...period. the programs and head coaches that commit themseleves to it succeed. otherwise, you don't. i think HCCW is committed to it at Kansas....i don't think Dr. Zenger would have it any other way.

we have a nice class coming in...and once it's signed, and the players are committed to campus, or getting qualified to come to campus, then it's on to next year. and you keep working at it, and working at it.

welcome to all the new KUers...Go Jayhawks!

canuckhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Regarding the "validity of Rivals Rankings":

My take on the article is that the author was determined to publish an article that suggests rankings matter and wasn't interested in modeling the relationship accurately. Why do I say that: (1) sample selection, (2) dropping teams that hurt the finding, (3) failing to report the substantive effect and predictive power of the model.

Pbbut 5 years, 2 months ago

I get what Bowen is saying, but the "stars rankings" have some predictability. According to Rivals, Alabama has a class of 23 commits, 3-5, 12-4, and 8-3*. I'm going to guess that these guys are going to be a good, solid class.
I'm more of the opinion that football players are made, not born, but is this a testament to the kids as they are today or the coaching they will get at Alabama? My opinion is that even without having played a down of college ball, Alabama's class will be great, regardless of how you spin the dynamics.

CrystalJones 5 years, 2 months ago

For most 4 and 5 star guys, it matters IF they continue to develop with coaching. 2 and 3 star guys can be coached up to 4 or 5 star status. Mangino did that, and not just with Talib. By the same token incoming 5 star guys can stagnate or even wash out if they don't develop. (There are, of course, rare and exceptional cases where a kid plays little or no college ball, gets a tryout with an NFL team and goes straight to the League -- like the Brown kid from Wichita.)

justanotherfan 5 years, 2 months ago

Had Bryce Brown stayed at Tennessee, he likely would have had a solid college career. He clearly has the talent. While transferring closer to home was the right decision for his brother, it was completely the wrong decision for him.

justanotherfan 5 years, 2 months ago

I think recruiting rankings matter not because it tells you HOW MUCH a player will contribute so much as HOW SOON.

Think about it. Very rarely does a two or three star player contribute much in their first or second year on campus. Some of those guys develop into stars at the college level, but they generally aren't immediate starters, or even contributors. There are exceptions, of course, but they generally don't contribute as freshmen, or even red shirt freshmen.

On the other hand, a lot of four and five star recruits come in and play right away, or even start and contribute on strong teams. That means that a team like Alabama may have 50 or 60 guys on their roster that can contribute (35+ juniors and seniors, 10 or so sophs, 6 or 7 redshirt freshmen and another 5 true freshmen). Meanwhile a team like KU may only have 25 or 30 juniors and seniors that can really contribute, and another handful of players that are almost ready to contribute, but not quite. That makes a huge difference in practice, and in games.

canuckhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Wow. I like it. One way to interpret those results is that high schoolers in Texas (a major recruiting base for the Big 12) tend to be grossly overvalued in the Rivals system.

kay_you 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't place much faith in the star system. Show me what other schools are recruiting him.

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