Recruits

It's all about perception

 

If you’re a recruit that chooses to go to UNF, how do you tell your “boys” (that are going to UF, FSU, USF, Bama, MIA, and even Wake Forest) that you’re going to a school that has never fielded a team?  

 

That, in a nutshell is why new programs have a build-up time of years…decades before they’re ever really any good (some still haven’t gotten there).  Simply put, none of the major prospects want to go a school that’s not established.

 

What’s the incentive? There’s no history, no coach, and no “competitive advantage” (ex. “I was quarterback at USC” compared to “I was quarterback at Western Kentucky”).

 

If/When a big-name coach is landed for UNF, the task of recruiting becomes MUCH easier. A big-name coach will bring his own history and create his own competitive advantage for his players.  If Nick Saban were to quit Alabama today and start coaching the University of Toledo tomorrow, you can believe me that UT would instantly get more looks by recruits. 

 

Don’t you agree that UT would also be considered a possible producer of NFL prospects? certainly more than they are presently (no disrespect, Coach Beckman, just trying to make a point)?

 

The State of Jacksonville

When Howard Schnellenberger took over the reins of the Miami Hurricanes in 1979 the team was struggling.  Struggling to get wins and struggling getting top recruits.  When he recruited north they were only getting leftovers.


Schnellenberger decided to refocus his recruiting efforts.  He took out a map, drew a line, and with one stroke of a pen, the “State of Miami” was created.  He essentially declared south Florida as Hurricane territory.  Broward, Collier, Dade, Lee, Monroe, and Palm Beach were the primary fields to harvest their talent and no one was to get out of there and go to another school unless Miami didn’t want them.


Jacksonville in itself has a very large pool of talent from which to recruit.  If you look at FBS schools throughout the country, you find players from Jacksonville appearing on a high number of rosters.  If you include DII (FCS) schools, the number grows even more. 

 

Just like Schnellenberger’s Miami, UNF uses it’s “State” as its core source of talent…not it’s ONLY source.  Most teams are “regional.” 70% – 80% of its roster is drawn from within a 200 mile radius.  Our “State” starts with the Jacksonville area, but radiates into southern Georgia, Alabama, and north central Florida.  We’re the University of North Florida not the University of Jacksonville.


Here are the core schools that comprise our “state:”


Jacksonville High Schools: Baker County, Bartram Trail, Bishop Kenny, Bishop Snyder, Bolles, Eagle’s View, Edward H. White, Episcopal, First Coast, Fleming Island, Fletcher, Forrest, Jackson High, Lee, Mandarin, Middleburg, Nease, Orange Park, Parker, Ponte Vedra, Providence, Ribault, Ridgeview, St. Augustine, Sandalwood, Stanton, University Christian, West Nassau, William Raines, and Wolfson to name a few.  Plus, you'll want to run by a few homes to make sure there aren’t any future little Tebows tucked away being home schooled.


If you’re a kid from Jacksonville, playing here at home, is a dream come true; playing at the next level in front of all of your friends and family is icing on the cake.
If there are questions about proximity in regards to UF, well, check out how close Duke and the University of North Carolina campuses are. JU? Nonfactor.  UF and UNF can exist without UNF having to fear a talent shortage.  Honestly, judging by the 2009 roster, it shouldn’t be an issue.  Urban apparently isn’t too big of a fan of Jax talent, as there are only 8 players on the team from the Jax area – less than Wake Forests’ 15 and just one more than Clemson and Spurrier’s South Carolina.

 

Considering the proximity of Valdosta, Ga. to Jacksonville, I think our umbrella of “The State of Jacksonville” should be broadened to include it.  Remember,  ESPN’s Titletown nod went to Valdosta, GA, so they know a thing or two about high school football talent.

 

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So, what do you think?

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