Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes (right) talks with LeHigh assistant coach Gerard Wilcher during a break in spring practice. Hughes said about 150 college coaches have been by his practice during the NCAA evaluation period.
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes prepared 75 recruiting brochures to pass out to the college coaches that were expected to attend his team’s spring practice drills the last two weeks.
Hughes would eventually make several more trips to the print shop, as over 150 college assistant coaches made their way to the drills during the NCAA spring evaluation period. The veteran coach was hardly complaining.
The scene of college coaches flooding high school spring practices has been played out all over the state, including the Southern Crescent.
While the coaches’ presence give players exposure, high school coaches also like it from a motivational standpoint during spring drills. Players and coaches agree that having college coaches and recruiting service personnel at practices adds to the players’ motivation.
“There is a little bit more bounce in their step,” Hughes said. “You know they will be going real hard knowing that someone is watching them.”
And even the ones who are not being highly recruited have a little more pep.
“Yeah, it motivates everyone,” said Eagle’s Landing Christian running back Keyante Green. “You see where your teammates are giving everything they have. It is good for practice.”
Lovejoy Nathaniel Norwood agrees.
“When we have those college coaches in here, practices are much more aggressive,” said Norwood, who has offers from Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State. “It fires everyone up.”
Last week, when a couple assistant coaches from Georgia and Notre Dame watched an ELCA weight training session, coach Jonathan Gess noticed something different in his players.
“Even the ones who will never play on that level were going after it hard,” Gess said. “They want to be noticed.”
Younger players also can benefit from the college coaches’ presence. Hughes said he has a sophomore and freshman that have caught the eye of some of the coaches and have all but been offered scholarships.
“Everybody wants to be a part of it,” Hughes said. “We normally have anywhere from four to 10 coaches at every practice. I haven’t had to say much in turns of motivation these last two weeks. Everybody has been excited.”
The majority of the college coaches that have been on the recruiting trail have been from Div. I Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision schools.
But that hasn’t meant that players projected to play in the lower divisions haven’t been noticed.
Gess said many of the higher level coaches will tell others about players that might fit into their program.
“We have had coaches tell us that they were going to pass the names of some players on to coaches they know in Div. II and NAIA,” Gess said. “I think this benefits everyone.”