- Jeremy Willis
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There they sit. Two shining steel beasts. Round and powerful with buttons, hoses and a reinforced glass door, they look like they belong on a sci-fi submarine.
But these two behemoths have one special power beyond their mild-mannered day jobs … they just might be UNLV’s secret recruiting weapon.
When it comes to sales pitches, recruiters will say just about anything if they think it could affect a prospect’s decision.
Heard about the school with the great weight room? Sure.
The school with all the pretty girls? What school doesn’t have that?
But a laundry room?
ESPN.com recently conducted an anonymous survey with members of the 2015 ESPN 300 on a variety of topics, one of which was the variety of recruiting pitches they’ve heard during the process.
“UNLV has the fastest washing machines in the NCAA,” one respondent said.
So maybe those machines serve something beyond the spin cycle.
When UNLV hosts official visitors, Paul Pucciarelli, the Rebels’ director of equipment, opens his equipment room to recruits and participates in the tour of the facilities. For the guy who has been an equipment manager since he was 18 years old and has spent almost 30 years with the Rebels, Pucciarelli takes pride in his particular part of the recruiting pitch.
“[UNLV coach Bobby Hauck] calls it the magic show,” said Pucciarelli, who is known to players and staff alike as "Pooch." “I tell them we might not have an indoor practice facility or play in a big conference, but we got a helluva laundry room.”
At least clean clothes are something recruits are guaranteed to get.
“Iowa, they’ll build me a statue,” another survey respondent said.
"If you win a national championship, Duke said they will build a statue of me,” ESPN 300 quarterback Sam Darnold said. “I was like, 'Um, OK?' But I guess that's cause and effect. It wasn't something like, 'If you commit, we'll build a statue.' But it was still something I thought was kind of funny to say to a recruit. It was kind of out there.”
Schemes, statues, uniforms, facilities, faculty, food: It’s all fair game.
“… They have the best ice cream ever, and it gives their players an edge,” was one answer given during the survey. That recruit didn’t mention if it came from the University of Vermont, which is only 27 miles away from Ben & Jerry’s world headquarters.
These pitches might sound silly or far-fetched, but for schools that maybe can’t match massive budgets, state-of-the-art facilities or a Power 5 conference affiliation, it’s not about worrying about what you don’t have, but highlighting the positives.
Like a brand-new washing machine.
For Pucciarelli and UNLV, the emphasis is on the people with whom the future Rebels football players will be spending their time.
“Players will spend 70 percent of their time with trainers, managers, academic advisers,” Pucciarelli said. “Base the decision on who’s going to take care of you. You’ll have the same things as the FSUs and USCs. You’re going to be taken care of.”
And if all else fails, don’t forget to mention what the secret weapon can do.
“Oh, we can crank some laundry, my friend.”