College recruiting, especially in football, has been interesting over the last year and a half. The so-called “recruiting dead period” has been extended throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing potential recruits from making in-person visits. College coaches have also been forced to make their pitches virtually, which can be difficult to do.
As of Tuesday, the first day of June, the extended recruiting dead period will officially come to an end. That means it’s time for coaching staffs to get back out on the recruiting trail and start pitching some of these high school athletes in person.
The time has also come to welcome potential new student-athletes back to campus, which the Auburn coaching staff — both in football and basketball — believes will be an advantage for them. Bryan Harsin and Bruce Pearl are both excited to get that aspect of their programs back to normal.
“We’ve done virtual visits, and all those things are cool, but there’s nothing like being here on campus, in my opinion,” Harsin recently said, via the Opelika-Auburn News.
If you’ve kept up with the Auburn programs, you know that a lot of their success has come from getting recruits on campus and letting them experience what most describe as “the Auburn Family.” That family atmosphere gives them a competitive edge for with some of the top prospects in the country.
Yes, this is going to be Harsin’s first season. And yes, that has a lot to do with why the Auburn class ranking fell from No. 7 in 2020 to No. 19 in 2021 — the unknown after the firing of former head coach Gus Malzahn. But some of that can also be attributed to the lack of in-person recruiting over the last 15 months or so.
Harsin understands that Auburn is better sold face-to-face, when recruits are able to take in the whole Tiger experience.
“I’ve experienced it myself,” Harsin continued. “I came here just a few months ago. And I got to go into Jordan-Hare Stadium. I got to be a part of places on campus, or be on campus, and see things and check it out. So we can talk about it, but until you experience it, it’s just different.
“So I think having them here on campus, having our coaches around them — which I think our coaches do a good job when they’re in person — that will help. Just being able to get face-to-face with people — at the end of the day, that’s where the relationships are built, right?
“You get to kind of see these players, see their families. They get to see you. I don’t think you quite get that passion or that feeling through a phone and FaceTime and all that like you do in person, so to me, that’s the most important thing. And getting them here, and getting them in this community, and being around the people that we have on this staff, and being around even our players and just our vibe of our football team, I think is going to be a good thing.”
We’ll see how much of a difference that in-person recruiting will make. As things sit, the Tigers are ranked No. 48 for 2022, according to the 247Sports rankings. That’s even behind programs such as Coastal Carolina, Utah State and Oregon State.
Time to start making some moves.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.