NCF On The Trail: 2013 recruiter feature

Lilly a key factor in UGA class 

February, 7, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Multiple coaches had a hand in Georgia’s landing another top-10 signing class on Wednesday, but John Lilly might have been the standout in the collaborative effort. The Bulldogs’ tight ends coach played a key role in recruiting at least six of the Bulldogs’ 32 signees, including two of their top early enrollees.


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Larry Johnson Sr. makes difference 

February, 7, 2013
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- He rarely addresses the media. He doesn't opine for the spotlight. Heck, Bill O'Brien didn't mention his name once during Wednesday's 33-minute national signing day press conference.

But don't be fooled here. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. has played one of the most important roles in piecing together this 2013 recruiting class.


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While Greg Mattison might be recognized as the best recruiter among Michigan assistants, it is clear that running backs coach Fred Jackson deserves some recognition, as well.

Not only has he been on the Michigan coaching staff for 20-plus years -- working with Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke -- but given the recruits he was able to bring in for the 2013 class, fans will enjoy a more streamlined run game.

As dazzling as some of Denard Robinson’s jaunts were, Michigan hasn’t really had an up-the-middle, smashmouth run game in the recent past, but Jackson is convinced that with his three 2013 running back signees, the Wolverines will be able to do just that.

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For LSU's Wilson, no time for sleep 

February, 7, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- The night before signing day, Frank Wilson slept on an air mattress in his office

But only for a few hours.

LSU's recruiting coordinator doesn't have much time for that during the height of the recruiting season, especially with LSU's frantic recruiting cycle.


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NORMAN, Okla. -- Entering the fall, some Oklahoma fans were wondering what in the world first-year linebackers coach Tim Kish was doing.

Kish had made a big reputation as a solid recruiter during his time at Arizona. Several months into the job at OU, and he hadn’t help land any of the top Arizona recruits, had taken too long with many top Texas prospects and had some fans calling for a change.

[+] EnlargeMike Stoops, Tim Kish
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMI Linebackers coach Tim Kish used his connections in California to discover receiver K.J. Young.
Supporters of Kish said give it time, give him an opportunity to build the relationships with recruits and judge him from there.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Most of the attention has been on the five receivers Florida signed on Wednesday.

But the Gators had a pretty good haul in the secondary, too.

UF signed four defensive backs, including the nation’s No. 3 overall player in CB Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton), on Wednesday. But more importantly, those players were committed to UF as early as last February and never wavered.


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Helfrich taking the reins in recruiting 

February, 7, 2013
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Every program has one or two coaches who will close the top prospects. The Oregon Ducks have a number of assistants who have been relied upon greatly over the years. The staff has some new faces who will make an impact on the recruiting trail, but the new man at the top was very influential in gaining 19 new signees in the Class of 2013.


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Florida State's recruiting class might have looked a lot different if it weren't for the hire of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Pruitt's appointment in Tallahassee directly resulted in no fewer than two commitments from top-40 players destined elsewhere that the Seminoles wouldn't have had a shot at otherwise.

Beginning with DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) on the night of the national championship, Pruitt's move orchestrated one of the headlines of the season. Minutes after Nick Saban and Alabama hoisted another national championship trophy, the Tuscaloosa-bound Walker switched his commitment to Florida State and enrolled at the school the next day.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When the ink dried Wednesday night, the University of Alabama came away with the No. 1 recruiting class for the second year in a row. Coach Nick Saban garners most of the attention, but the job done by his staff should not go unnoticed.

Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart deserves credit for staying with Reuben Foster. The ESPN 150 linebacker initially committed to Alabama and then flipped to Auburn. But in the end, he signed with the Crimson Tide. Smart never gave up on him.


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Recruits and colleges can be fickle friends. At Ohio State, Fickell friends are the best friends to have.

If there is anyone in Ohio who understands what scarlet-and-gray fever is about, it is Luke Fickell.

[+] EnlargeOhio State's Luke Fickell
Greg Bartram/US PRESSWIRELuke Fickell is a crucial part of Ohio State's recruiting prowess.
He played nose guard for Ohio State in the 1990s. He was the interim coach for the Buckeyes in 2011 and has been with the team in some facet since 2002.

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Tee Martin is USC's secret weapon 

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While it’s safe to say signing day didn’t quite go as planned for the Trojans on Wednesday, there are still some positives to take away from it all -- most obviously the fact that although small in numbers, USC’s class is filled to the brim with talent.

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee and Robert Woods
Icon SMITee Martin is one of USC's best recruiters, opening up a pipeline into the Southeast.
With an eye toward the future, there is one more reason to be optimistic if you’re a Trojans fan, and that’s the effort and ability showcased on the recruiting trail by one of the staff’s youngest coaches, Tee Martin.

Lured away from Kentucky in late February 2012, Martin was a hit with just about every player, parent and coach he came in contact with over the past year, solidifying his standing as one of the top up-and-coming recruiters in college football.

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Take a closer look at Washington’s 2013 recruiting class and one thing starts to stand out.

This group has Tosh Lupoi’s fingerprints all over it.

The Huskies’ ace recruiter made an impact with the program from the moment he was hired less than a month before signing day in 2012.

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When Texas brought in Stacy Searels after the 2010 season to overhaul its offensive line, it did so with an ideal in mind.

Searels had been coaching SEC offensive lines -- first at LSU, then Georgia -- since 2003. The assumption, fair or not, was that he’d whip the Longhorns line into shape and up to the standards of college football’s most dominant conference.

[+] EnlargeStacy Searles
John Rivera/Icon SMIOne-third of Texas' class consists of offensive linemen recruited by coach Stacy Searels.
Principles are important. Personnel matters more.

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McKinney, Beaty pay off for Aggies 

February, 7, 2013
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With the recent staff changes and the promotion of running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Clarence McKinney to offensive coordinator, it seemed fitting that the person who inherited the recruiting coordinator title from McKinney was receivers coach David Beaty.

Beaty and McKinney are two of a kind when it comes to recruiting. Both are former high school head coaches in major metropolitan cities (Beaty in Dallas, McKinney in Houston). Both have been in coaching for more than 15 years.


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