Print and Go Back Texas Longhorns [Print without images]

Friday, March 15, 2013
Roundtable: Changes to Texas recruiting

By Max Olson and William Wilkerson

Every Friday, HornsNation recruiting writers William Wilkerson and Max Olson answer a question about the Longhorns.

This week’s question: If you were new Texas director of player personnel Patrick Suddes, what would your first order of business be in your new position?

William Wilkerson: Texas head coach Mack Brown said his staff gave Patrick Suddes a list of 10 things they wanted him to get to work on immediately the morning he was hired as the Longhorns’ first director of player personnel.

Mack Brown
Mack Brown hired a recruiting coordinator to bring the Longhorns up to date. Where should he start?
I’m not sure what exactly is on that list, but I’d have to imagine “evaluation,” “staff enlargement,” or some combination of both was listed. It has to be.

Suddes came from an Alabama program that was as well-oiled a recruiting machine as there is in the country. The Crimson Tide had their own staff of evaluators that handled all prospect film, essentially acting as sous chefs for the assistant coaches, who would then use that information to make their lives much easier on the trail.

It’s really an ingenious system and one that Suddes should look to implement at Texas, especially with the talent pool at its fingertips.

Because Suddes doesn’t have any history in the Lone Star State he really needs to be perfect with who he brings on to assist him in these endeavors.

The question is: How many staff members will Suddes be able to hire? It’s unclear at the moment.

Just last week the NCAA Rules Working Group recommended that the Division I Board of Directors, at its May 2 meeting in Indianapolis, suspend two rules and conduct a review before possible amendments are made.

One of those rules was Proposal 11-2, which would eliminate the requirement that only a head coach or assistant coach can perform the functions of a recruiting coordinator. This would allow schools to hire scouting staffs.

If the proposals hold up, which seems unlikely at the moment, then Suddes can take a few more chances with the hires, which I’d assume would involve high school football coaches in some capacity.

If modifications are made, I’d imagine Texas would be able to make at least two additional hires. Figuring out who those two are should be among Suddes’ chief responsibilities right now.

Max Olson: No matter how the NCAA rule changes play out, to me the keyword that Patrick Suddes needs to live by as he takes over Texas recruiting is innovation.

Look around the state. We’ve reached a point where an in-state kid passing up the Longhorns for Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech is not all that surprising anymore. Each program is on the rise to some degree right now, nobody more so than the Aggies.

Texas doesn’t have much of an edge over those programs in the win-loss department these past few years. The sell was a whole lot easier for Suddes over at Alabama. So how will he and the rest of the coaching staff play up the school's other advantages?

Suddes did drop this hint during his introductory press conference: When Texas gets a kid on campus, it has to be game over from there.

“That's my job -- to make sure they come to the University of Texas, they fall in love with it and they don't want to leave,” he said.

The first order of business, if you ask me, is innovating Texas’ visitor days and camps as well as the way its coaches communicate with prospects.

Next weekend’s “Sophomore Day” is a good start, and UT needs to keep finding reasons to get recruits on campus as much as possible. In a time when recruiting kids as early as possible is the norm and necessity, getting them on campus as much as possible can be the big difference-maker.

Having Vince Young around to chat with recruits is nice, but Texas needs to find sustainable ways to make its summer camp one that every top prospect is motivated to attend.

As for communication, Mack has said all along that social networking experience would be a must for his personnel department. But it’s time for his staff to take the next step from Facebook messages and Twitter DMs, and I think he knows that. If text messaging deregulation is passed (and even if it isn’t), Skype and FaceTime could be especially beneficial for getting one-on-one time with a prospect and building up stronger relationships.

Media guides and websites aren’t what win over recruits. Texas needs to embrace innovation and start doing a little trailblazing.