How Recruiting Has Fueled the Recent Offensive Explosion in College Football
Recruiting has helped power the push towards explosive offenses by identifying possible playmakers more readily then putting the emphasis on offense to make a sell to kids.
In today's world of college football, recruiting is so much more than just the lifeblood of your program. It is a way to give your program a chance, a way to inject steroids into that blood; and part of that steroid cocktail is an offense that makes the kids swoon.
Schools are now scouring the country for recruits. Budgets are bigger than ever, and coaches are looking for players from wherever they can get them. Certainly, there are coaches like Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher who recruit prototypes. However, those coaches are the exception; not the norm.
While Saban might see a 5'10" speedster and say, "No, thank you," there are plenty of other coaches looking at the kid and thinking, "I can make him work in my system."
The rise of the sub-6'0" receiver has coincided with the coaches knowing they can get playmakers and make them work all over the field.
The same holds true for quarterbacks. Sure, prototype quarterbacks are nice, but schools who run spread systems are finding ways to incorporate guys who normally would not get a shot into their systems. Quarterbacks who can run. Quarterbacks who can run and throw. Quarterbacks who are short. Quarterbacks who are skinny.
If you can spin it, run it or catch it, then someone is going to find you regardless of where you play your high school football. West Virginia is headlined by two Miami-area high school teammates: Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey. Oregon employs the services of a player from Hawaii, Marcus Mariota, and last year featured two players from Texas: LaMichael James and Darron Thomas. Cal is led by two kids from North Carolina, Zach Maynard and Keenan Allen.
There is more information out there, more camps, more combines and the spread of information is so vast that targeting recruits is easier than ever. Film is sent in a matter of minutes via email, dropbox or FTP servers; not days when tapes had to be sent in the snail mail or delivered by hand. Schools are casting wider nets and working to entice the playmakers that come on to their radars.
When it comes to enticing, some staffs just flat-out can recruit. That's how you get Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State types hanging around the top of the recruiting rankings with offenses that are less than exciting. However, not every school recruits itself, and in a day and age when kids see and hear from more schools than ever, an edge always helps.
In that case, the offense is as much an edge in recruiting as playing time or any facility can be. We live in a culture where the value of defense is greatly understated. Kids like scoring touchdowns, and fans and media appreciate that touchdown scoring at a rate that defenders never reach. Why make the hard defensive sell when you can woo a kid by telling him about the TDs that he'll score and how wide-open your offense is?
As we talked about with specifics to corners, coaches are luring kids away from other schools by promising glory and fun on the offensive side of the ball. And ultimately, in the ultra-competitive world of getting 16 and 17-year olds to commit to your school, that carrot of playing for an offense-driven coach in a high-flying system is enough to get kids in the boat.
It is a little bit of a chicken and the egg situation. New offenses are using the new-found playmakers to operate, AND new offenses make it easier for coaches to recruit big-time talents. In short, everything works for the offense whether they are grabbing quality players or using players other teams would not normally take.
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