The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

June 7, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Time to rethink recruiting

MORGANTOWN — We have reached that moment in the offseason when recruiting kicks into high gear with prospect dancing from one school’s camp to another, the budding college freshman being treated like he already possessed a Heisman Trophy on his mantle and the college coaches learning whatever they can beyond what the tape they have studied has shown them.

It is Ryan Dorchester’s time of year, as if there ever really is a down time for a major college recruiting coordinator.

Recruiting, of course, is the most intriguing aspect of the game that captures the imagination of America’s public each fall, for you are dealing with not only what happened yesterday, what is happening today but with what you want to be happening three, four and five years in the future.

The public has been sold a bill of goods over the years by the Mel Kipers of the world and all those who have turned the rankings and recruiting websites into a booming business that is not much different from the late-night TV ads that sell you blenders, vacuums and knives.

The other day, when chatting with Dave Hickman of The Charleston Gazette, Dorchester revealed what those on the inside pay attention to ... and rest assured it is not how many stars a recruit is awarded by these scouting services.

“People get so infatuated with rankings. It’s absurd,” Dorchester said. “We don’t care

if a player is a top-200 player or a top-800 player or whatever someone thinks. It’s all about development anyway.”

Think about that for a moment, about how much time you have spent reading your favorite recruiting sites, listening to your favorite recruiting experts dueling on television and expressing opinions — which the last time I looked were not to be confused with facts — on which high school senior, or junior, or sophomore, for that matter, was going to turn West Virginia into a Big 12 champion.

It isn’t necessarily that these recruiting “experts” don’t put the effort into learning as much as they can about these kids. It is more that what they can learn doesn’t really matter.

Take a look at Dorchester’s last part of that statement:

“It’s all about development anyway.”

Dorchester explains it this way:

“Let’s face it — everyone’s going to have talented players. It’s what you do with them and how they develop in so many ways that determines how they turn out.

“Third parties (those who rate players) have no vested interest. If a kid is a bust, that guy’s not going to get fired. I like when they rank recruiting classes and say somebody won. What did they win? Even Alabama, which seems to always win, they still have to develop their players.”

Try to remember back — if you are of such an age — to when you were entering college, the shy, skinny high school kid who wasn’t ready for Spanish I, let alone to carry the football against Oklahoma.

How risky is this recruiting business?

It’s risky enough that a school as good as LSU didn’t think Pat White was a quarterback or that Owen Schmitt’s ability was no better than good enough to send him off to Wisconsin-Whitewater. Maryland gave Steve Slaton a scholarship, then withdrew it, thinking it needed something else more than an All-American running back.

See, it isn’t always what you bring to the table as a recruit, but what you will offer at your best.

Some players come in too light and must put on weight, some too heavy and must take it off. Some need to learn how to play; some need to learn how to learn.

Some need discipline, some need to be pushed, some to be coddled.

This, you see, isn’t included in that four-star rating. You find it out by talking to the prep coach, by talking to the kid, by having him in camp and seeing how he responds to you as a coach and to the surroundings. If he’s there to see if he likes the school, the coach has him there to make sure the school likes him.

You choose kids by what they offer and by what you need. A two-star recruit who fills a need a school has may become a three-star recruit to that school while another school deep in players in that position or with those same skills becomes a one-star recruit.

Recruiting is the game within the game, and while there may be coaches who are good recruiters who lose, there are no coaches who are bad recruiters who win.

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads