- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The rule never made sense to West Virginia running backs coach JaJuan Seider. Recent signees would arrive on campus but couldn’t spend time with the Mountaineers' coaching staff due to NCAA rules prohibiting coaches interaction with their players during the summer.
“You’re talking about kids who might be 1,000 miles away from home for the first time,” Seider said. “And you can’t even go hang out with your coach if you want to. That was a dumb rule, you bring a kid up here for the first time and you can’t have any interaction with those kids.”
A silly rule. And one that is in the past.
A new NCAA rule allows Big 12 coaches more interaction with their players this summer. Gone are the days of freshman arriving on campus with only upperclassmen to help make their transition into the schedule of a college football player as smooth as possible. Under the new rule, football players can be required to attend weight training and conditioning for eight hours per week during summer semesters with two of those hours available to use for film study. No on-field work is allowed.
The Mountaineers welcomed 10 new faces into the program this week, including quarterback William Crest and defensive back Dravon Henry. In the past WVU coaches couldn’t have interacted with those newcomers to help prepare them to play this fall. Now, the coaching staff gets the opportunity to help those players -- including Crest, who could insert himself into the starting quarterback battle this summer -- make a smoother transition into the program.
“You get to be around those kids and help them to adjust, it helps tremendously,” Seider said. “You can be around those kids, you can see their growth, you can watch film with them, they’ll understand how you coach and then they’re comfortable. They get to see the guy who recruited them, the guy who will be coaching them. I can’t tell you how important it is.”
At Oklahoma State, the new rule could help a young Cowboys’ roster be better prepared to open preseason camp in August. Instead of kids teaching kids, the Pokes’ coaches can teach them both.
“To be able to work with these guys in the summer time takes the mental game to another level,” Cowboys cornerbacks coach Van Malone said. “Now, rather than relying on [true sophomore] Jordan Sterns to teach [true freshman] Dylan Harding, we have the opportunity to spend time, especially with this young team, to teach them both. It’s really only an hour a week but you get the opportunity to be around them and help them grow.”
Malone doesn’t expect to even use the full allotment of time but instead wants to use it as quick primer for what to expect in the fall.
“You just try to get one point across, two points across in that time you have,” Malone said. “Take advantage of this time, even though we have an hour a week, we’re not going to grind them up every week, we’re not going to use that full hour. You just try to get one point across, two points across and let them go. I think when you do it that way it ends up being much more fruitful.”
For new Iowa State running backs coach Louis Ayeni, the time will be valuable for him to start to interact with his freshmen, but he wants to make sure the Cyclones running backs get time away from him before the season heats up at the end of the summer.
“This biggest thing it will do is answer those little questions they have as they work out with the guys, we can go on the board and draw it,” Ayeni said. “It will help the freshman as they get adjusted. As they get adjusted, they’ll be more on their own. My freshmen ... I’ll be able to help get adjusted. My older guys are on the ball, so they’ll see me when they see me.”
Even with the increased interaction, the overall time demands still remain limited and manageable for both the players and coaches. Coaches will still have the opportunity for some valuable down time during the summer months, and players will continue to have much needed time away from a coaching staff they’re around day in and day out during the fall.
“The thing about the summer is they’ll get away from me for a little bit,” Ayeni said. “Because once the season comes around I’ll be on them 24/7 so I want the message to still be fresh.”