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College football: Coaching changes can change complexion of a recruiting class

A coaching change can dramatically impact a prospect's choice — or change the complexion of a recruiting class. Heritage Hall's Quintaz Struble saw two Division I offers dissolve because of coaching changes.
BY TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, thaney@opubco.com Published: January 30, 2012

/articleid/3644674/1/pictures/1625201">Photo - Arizona coach Mike Stoops, left, yells at Jourdon Grandon (26) and Derek Earls, rear, during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Los Angeles. USC won 48-41. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok) ORG XMIT: CADM115
Arizona coach Mike Stoops, left, yells at Jourdon Grandon (26) and Derek Earls, rear, during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Los Angeles. USC won 48-41. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok) ORG XMIT: CADM115

The news hasn't been all bad for the Sooners. The Stoopses last week hired former Arizona assistant Tim Kish to coach the OU linebackers.

Kish is known as a solid recruiter, further opening doors for the Sooners in the Southwest and California — areas that are becoming more and more important for the program's sustenance.

He had barely walked in the door when the Stoops brothers sent him back where he had come from to speak with highly regarded prospect Davonte Neal. Kish had a great relationship with Neal and his family. Why not see if he would be interested in a big-name school such as OU?

Neal, a Phoenix-area product who has said he will make a decision in mid-February, is rated as a top-10 overall prospect by ESPN. He could play receiver or cornerback in college.

The Sooners were not in the conversation with him; now, because of Kish's hiring, they are.

“Kish has been one of the top recruiters in the country for some time now,” said JC Shurburtt, the national recruiting director for 247Sports. “He does a great job building relationships with prospects and families and I've heard nothing but great things about his ability as a closer. I thought, from a recruiting standpoint, he was an excellent addition.”

Laughing, Kish said he never imagined being on the road that quickly after being hired. But he was up for it. You have to, as a coach — and especially a new one.

“I think for all of us, (change) is just the nature of the beast when you're a coach at this level,” Kish said Friday. “I wanted to come in here and be a team guy.”

Should commits be making that choice based on the school, the coaches, both? It's subjective, differing from case to case, but the amount of turnover at least has to be taken into account by recruits and those helping them in the process.

“The likelihood you'll play for the guy who recruited you — your position coach, your head coach — for four years, the percentages aren't very high,” Luginbill said. “I don't know that young people think about that as often as they should.

“I'd like to think and hope that kids make decisions for a lot of different reasons, but, yeah, coaching shake-ups change the landscape. It can create doubt in 17-year-old kids.”

Some heed Luginbill's advice, choosing the school over the coach. Perhaps more should.

“If they were to leave, I would still be solid with Oklahoma State,” said Texas native Ashton Lampkin, referring to primary recruiter Doug Meacham and position coach Jason Jones. Lampkin was one of OSU's earliest commitments.

Recent OU running back commit David Smith had a similar approach.

“I told myself to never choose a school off of coaches,” he said, “and that's exactly what I did.”

Once the dust settles in February, take a breath. We'll do it all again in December.


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