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Recruiting process goes beyond wins and losses

As Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon prepares for his third season as the man in charge of the Falcons’ football team, he has built his program to a level this University has never seen. Brandon led his squad to consecutive bowl victories, in the Motor City Bowl in 2003 and the GMAC Bowl in ’04, and is beginning to reap the benefits of success.

As he concluded bringing in his new recruiting class Feb 2, in which 26 players were signed from 11 states, the door has opened to recruiting top players. No longer are the days of trying to select from the few star high school players that were overlooked by bigger schools such as Ohio State and Michigan.

After numerous television appearances and rankings in the Top 25 polls, Bowling Green football is on the map. Future college players now know of the program and have interest in attending the University, but it takes more than national exposure to make players want to play for a team.

The process of recruiting is a year-round challenge. From the moment the new recruiting class is introduced, Brandon and his staff are already evaluating the current high school juniors, making a preliminary list of who they feel would make a nice addition to their team.

Starting in May, the players see the coaches from interested universities, where for the first time ,they can workout and display their talent.

“We go on the road and we can’t talk to them, but we can evaluate them,” Brandon said. “We can watch tape, watch them run track or whatever’s going on in the spring. We talk to coaches, talk to counselors and get academic information.”

BG football recruiting coordinator Troy Rothenbuhler puts his faith in the hands of many people during this time in order to find out everything possible about a recruit.

He believes it is essential to build good relationships with people in their recruiting areas. That includes coaches, school presidents and faculty, so they are hearing the truth about a player.

“You try to talk to as many people as you can to try to make sure that when you bring someone in, they are a good human being and will be a good citizen while at Bowling Green,” Rothenbuhler said.

As summer approaches, the evaluation grows to where the two sides can form a relationship. While the football team is going through summer camp, the recruits are invited to join, on their own will, to showcase their abilities and give the coaches their first glimpse of what might someday be a star player.

Since recruits are allowed to have as many unofficial visits to schools as they would like the summer camps are crucial. It can jump start the process to landing a solid recruit without using up the valuable official visit, which allows the athlete just one per school.

When the recruits come for their official visit, it is time for the football players to help out. The players have to follow NCAA rules which do not allow them to provide recruits with any benefits, but they still are allowed to take them out at night or go to any events that are on campus to get a feel of the University and show them the town.

The coaching staff relies on the players to tell them if a recruit will fit in.

“We believe in teamwork and our guys right now that they can really, really assist us in making that call,” Rothenbuhler said. “A kid is going to act one way around a coach because of respect, but when he starts sitting down playing Playstation or hanging out in the dorms with the rest of the guys is when his true colors usually will show.”

Once the season kicks off, it is much more difficult for the coaching staff to stay on top of recruits. They select between 250 to 300 high school athletes to put on their mailing list, which allows the coaches to stay in contact with the player while actively pursuing them.

“When phone calls can start in the fall, we’ll call those guys to find out what the interest level is and who else is recruiting them. We continue to try to build the relationship,” Brandon said.

After the season concludes, it is crunch time for the staff. In December and January, the coaches have their contact period where they can make personal visits to recruits and give their last pitch to join the University. It is a make-or-break period that ultimately puts teenagers in charge of a major decision, one that can shape the rest of their lives.

With over a year’s work of relentless time dedicated to make a player desire the team and school, all the coaches can do from there is sit back and hope their guys sign their names on the dotted line.

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