TSL Roundtable: Is recruiting heading in the right direction?

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Q: What’s the most significant sign you look for to see if recruiting is heading in the right direction?

Baltimore Hokie: I’ve been closely following recruiting for years.  We’ve made major changes in our recruiting approach over the years that respond, unfortunately, to critical recruiting fails: in 1997, in 2006, in 2011.  After each revision we have made noticeable gains in recruiting which last a few years, until the next external shift in the environment occurs.  Yet a few things have remained consistent: the imaginary “six hour radius” that defines our recruiting focus, and our traditional reliance on home-grown talent.

I have pretty clear insights into what I think are flaws in our approach.  So here are the things I look for:

1. Are we evaluating and extending offers to more blue-chip talent?  In the past we’ve extended offers to anywhere from 25-40 players rated 4-5 star per year.  You don’t sign who you don’t offer, and schools like Bama offer about three times that many.  This year we’ve extended offers to 56 or thereabouts, depending on the service you use.  So that is trending in the right direction – but I’d like to see upwards of 65-75 per year, at least.  I may have to lower my expectations, though, because the imaginary radius persists.

2. Are we closing the deal on enough of those blue chippers?  I believe we need 10-15 of them per year in order to be a Top 5 program.  The most we’ve ever signed in a given year is seven (2012) and two of those are gone or never enrolled.  Last year we got four.  This year we have 4 so far, but have realistic shot at 2-3 more.  We need to close the deal on more.

3. Are we closing the deal on enough of the top VA talent?  As I alluded to earlier, we live and die by VA recruiting.  Assuming we continue to rely on VA for talent, we need to close the deal on the majority of the Top 15 in the state.  Additionally, we know VA talent better than anyone, and our network of high school coaches enable us to evaluate and offer VA rough diamonds who are ‘off the radar.’  But it’s players like Ricky Walker, Marshawn Williams, Jamil Kamara, Derrick , Jalyn Holmes,