When a lot of college coaches recruit, they place an emphasis on the number of stars a prospect has or how high profile they are. Because of this, recruiting has become a game of it’s own between teams within a region or even specific conference.
After being hired later in the recruiting cycle, Buffaloes head coach Mel Tucker could ill afford to evaluate potential recruits solely on that basis. Instead he employed a novel approach, looking at under-the-radar prospects and doing his homework on how they would fit at Colorado.
“It’s important not to worry about what other people are doing in recruiting,” Tucker said. “If we evaluate a player and we watch the tape and we do a background check and decide he’s the player for us, it doesn’t matter to us who else is recruiting him and it doesn’t matter how many stars he has.”
Coming from a diverse coaching background, Tucker has also seen a variety of different players enjoy success at both the college and pro level, giving him even more confidence in his philosophy.
“I’ve coached ten years in the NFL, and it’s full of guys who were undrafted free agents, or who were two star, three stars coming out, and now they’re making a living playing football so I’m not worried about how many stars guys have.”
Unlike at the University of Georgia, where he had his pick of top prospects to chose from, he has to do a little more digging and research as a lesser known program. Especially considering they compete with schools in recruiting hotbeds like USC and UCLA, as well as programs that have historically had success in years past such as Nebraska, Oregon, and Washington.
In the final quarter of the recruiting cycle Tucker was able to lock up nine additional recruits, bringing the class total to a conference high twenty five players. The final nine included high profile prospect La’Vontae Shenault, brother of current Buff LaViska, but also lightly recruited guys such as defense tackle Jayden Simon and athlete D.J. Oats.
However, no matter how highly or lightly recruited guys were in high school, Tucker wants to make it clear that everyone will come to the Champions Center doning a clean slate.
“Whether they’re a one star or a five star, when they get here, all those stars go away anyway. It’s going to be about what can you do to help our football team. I don’t care anything about the stars.”
Part of the reason this approach can work well is many high school players are unfinished products developmentally - both biologically and on the field coming out of high school/junior college. Likewise, bringing in such a large class increases the possibility that the Buffs will strike gold on more guys, especially considering how a guy performs in college revolves around their coaching and development.
Tucker also understands that recruiting is an around-the-clock, day-in-day-out, business with little time to rest.
“Recruiting never stops, you can’t take a break. There’s no such thing as a offseason.”
Now that the 2019 class is locked up, he’s already focused in on recruiting guys for 2020 and beyond. Working hard to find guys for the short and long term future that fit the culture he’s looking to establish at Colorado is precisely the way to build a foundation from the ground up and take this program to the next level.