How Spring Games Impact College Football Recruiting
The spring game is one of the most important components in the early goings of a recruiting cycle for any given program, and that's because it provides moments.
Believe you me, from a football standpoint, there's almost nothing that can be gained from a spring game that can't be done at practice.
The point of the spring game is to show off a little bit for the fans and give them something to look forward to. Give them a reason to spend their hard-earned cash once the season rolls around...
From a coaching standpoint, it could allow the staff to get a look at what some of the younger players can do under the "pressure" of a live and rowdy crowd. It's also a way to give players a reprieve from the grind of spring ball and give some something tangible to be excited about.
At this point, it's all about hyping the team up and getting fans ready for the upcoming season, but it's also about creating moments—and that's huge for recruiting.
Recruits are invited to spring games in hopes that they'll take in the stadium, see how excited and hyped up the home crowd is regarding the team and decide that said program is the right school for them. This allows a program to show off for recruits and feature the program in an overwhelmingly positive light.
The scoreboard doesn't matter, thus there's no real losers—only winners—and winning in any form is always good for recruiting.
It's all about moments...
If you're a recruit, you don't go to a spring game to check out the scheme, to see how coaches and players react to pressure or scout your potential competition. You could, but at this point, the game isn't even at a "dress rehearsal" stage.
There's better ways to scout a program with your mind. Going to the spring game is about checking out a program with your heart.
It's about seeing the crowd, feeling the excitement in the air every time a long pass is completed and overhearing the recruiting fans in the stands talk about the new freshman linebacker that they can't wait to see.
It's also a chance to interact with fans, who will undoubtedly know who the recruits are if they're plugged into recruiting, and in many ways, that can play a huge impact on how a recruit views a program.
Don't be so naive to think that fans don't play a role in being able to sway a player one way or the other.
While we're at it, don't be naive enough to think that spring games and the festivities surrounding them aren't important in recruiting. Just ask Texas how effective a spring game can be. The Longhorns received five verbal commitments (including Jake McMillian, all per Jeff Howe of 247Sports) on orange-white game weekend.
In the end, it's about coming away with that lasting impression and affinity for a program.
For a moment, imagine the recruiting buzz that surrounded Nebraska when little Jack Hoffman ran 69 yards for one of the most inspirational touchdowns of all time.
It was in a spring game and it will never go down in the NCAA record books, but it very well could be a moment that's forever etched on the hearts of all who saw that play.
Nebraska certainly didn't create that moment with recruiting in mind, but the positive energy that surrounded the program and the team afterward was and is undeniable. It was a feel-good moment and one that recruits and their parents may remember forever if they were in attendance. Considering the popularity of the video online, recruits didn't even have to be at the spring game to be affected by that moment.
That's the type of impact a spring game can have.
It's not about the football. It's about the moments.
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