CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Traditionally this is the time of year when college football coaches are visiting families and scouting players to sign for the upcoming season.
But the pandemic has drastically changed the recruiting process. And that is affecting the make up of teams, budgets, and potentially, wins and losses.
Kent State University’s head of evaluation and recruiting, Steven Schrum, says recruiting is the lifeblood of a football program. But the future of the team is partly in the hands of players they’re taking a leap of faith on.
“The kids that are committed to us, or signed with us, I’d say the majority of them we’ve never met in person,” Schrum said.
In the spring, shut downs and restrictions wiped out any opportunity for traditional recruiting and scouting.
“In the spring we have over 160 days where our coaches can go out on the road to evaluate people. They had zero days this spring. We have 10 days where they can go to camps, that’s 110 points of contact. They had zero,” he said.
No official visits, either. Euclid High School senior, Jaylen Morris says he missed out on all kinds of exposure that could have landed him a scholarship.
“I wasn’t able to talk to coaches, go to camps, just had to stay here and work out, do whatever I can,” Morris said.
His senior season was also shortened.
“I’ve been working hard. I’ve been working hard on the field too. And it’s getting messed up this year,” Morris said.
Student athletes are adjusting, flooding coaches’ inboxes with homemade highlight reels and links to personal recruiting websites.
Schrum says coaches, were also forced to adapt, and recruit virtually.
But not being able to look a potential team member in the eye, or meet in person comes with risk.
“We’ve done more background research on these kids than ever before,” Schrum said.
He says who they recruit affects team chemistry, a big factor in wins and losses.
“And if you’re not recruiting the right people, one bad apple can bring it all down,” he said.
The silver lining in this is that it’s forced coaches to utilize more technology, making for more efficient and cost-effective recruiting. But that savings can’t be applied to additional scholarships.