TJ Yeldon the No.1 Running back in Alabama and the No. 2 All- Purpose back in the nation committed to Auburn this week.
I love college football but football only last about four months out of the year. College-football recruiting however is a 365-day season; and most of the work is done during the heat of the summer camps.
Coaches are going to make their evaluations and some of their picks are going to make it and some are going to be a bust. When the bust happens, fans often hear the most overused phrase about recruiting, “Well you know recruiting is not an exact science.”
But if good recruiters are not scientist, what are they?
A good recruiter is like a great artist. And Auburn has some of the best artist in the business with Taylor, Luper, Roof and the rest. But make no mistake Gene Chizik is the master. He is the one that leads this group. He is the one that sketched out the master plan and then painted it in with top notch understudies.
After successful stints as Defensive Coordinator at Auburn and Assistant Head Coach at Texas, he knows recruiting and that’s why he made it his priority to hire recruiting artist when he returned to the Plains.
I recently asked an art teacher, “What makes a good artist?”
Her reply was simple, ” A good artist must have three things” she said, ” 1) Be creative and have the confidence to try new ideas, 2) Have an eye for beauty, and 3) possess technical skills.”
There is no doubt that by that definition the Auburn recruiters are artist. A lot of coaches have the technical skills and an eye for the good looking athlete but not all have the confidence to try new things and be creative.
Enter Big Cat Weekend.
Shortly after Chizik assembled his new staff he challenged them to come up with new ideas for recruiting the best to the Plains. Tiger Prowl was a big hit and began to be imitated by other schools till the NCAA passed a rule to end the practice. Yet the single most creative idea to come from the new staff was the Big Cat Weekend. It alone has generated dividends that has other colleges green with jealously.
The results of the last three years speaks for itself. Players like Mike Dyer RB, Trovan Reed WR, Kiehl Frazier QB, Kris Frost ATH, Erique Florence S, and Gabe Wright DT, are some of the signees in those first two classes.
This year’s class already has 10 top tier commitments including the Nation’s No. 2 Quarterback Zeke Pike, the No. 1 Running back in Alabama TJ Yeldon, the No.1 Tight End in the nation Ricky Parks, and the No.1 Wide Receiver from Georgia JaQuay Williams.
One other key ingredient …
The master added to the picture at Auburn. According to the testimony of each commitment - it is that feeling of family, of a connection, of a relationship with the coaches and with each other that makes the difference. Big Cat Weekend reinforces that feeling.
Sculpting a great class does not guarantee success. But it does ensure that the artist have something of value to work with. That, I believe is why successful recruiting is not a science but a work of art.
Anyway, at the rate Chizik and crew are going, the Tigers will have a lot to work with over the next few years