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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Early Offer: Eval period not important?

By Jeremy Crabtree

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Wednesday's offerings: The spring evaluation period is officially here. Coaches hit the road Tuesday, fanning out all over the country to make in-person evaluations of prospects, but some coaches believe the importance of the next seven weeks isn't the same as it used to be.

‘It’s a different game’
Starting Tuesday and continuing through May 31, you’ll see assistant coaches flocking to high school coaches’ offices and attending spring football practices, track meets and baseball games. In the past, this is when coaches would watch film and determine whether or not a player is worthy of a scholarship offer. Yes, that still happens, but with the recruiting process sped up and more than 1,500 prospects in the 2015 class claiming scholarship offers already, the spring evaluation period isn’t the same as it used to be.

“It’s a different game,” one Big 12 assistant said. “Before, the spring is when you would go by the school, check out to make sure the film matched up with what you saw when you watched it in your office and then you would call the player later to make an offer. Now, you’re going to be seen more than anything. That’s what the spring evaluation period is now all about -- being seen.”

An assistant in the SEC said with technology today and the use of Twitter, Facebook and other forms of electronic communication, you can alert a prospect that you’ll be at his school and make sure that he finds a way to bump into you when you’re there. He also said he views the spring evaluation process as just like any other day now, and he gets more value on seeing underclassmen.

“It’s supposed to be for kids that are getting ready to be seniors, but once I’m seen by the top 2015 kid, I’m going out of my way to make sure and find the 2016 and 2017 kids,” the coach said. “It’s almost like the evaluation period really isn’t that important anymore. It’s just not the same as it used to be.”

Sunderland a Sooners lock?
It has been a good few weeks for Will Sunderland Jr. The 6-foot-2, 189-pound safety started at the Nike Training Camp in Dallas, earning an invitation to The Opening for his efforts, and he also has been red hot on the recruiting trail. Since April, Alabama and Texas have offered him, and Ohio State joined the fray on Tuesday with an offer. But make no mistake: Recruiters know it’s going to be tough to beat the in-state Sooners for Sunderland. “You have to make the effort because he’s a special player,” a Big 12 assistant said. “He’s a guy that could come in and make an immediate impact for your program. But you also have to be realistic that he’s likely going to end up at OU in the end.” Sunderland says he’s doing research on every school that offers and isn’t planning to make a decision anytime soon, but his family might have tipped his hand at the Nike Camp. His father was wearing an OU sweatshirt that day and his mom spent the chilly afternoon draped in a Sooners blanket.