MAHONE: Coaches getting jump start on 2014 class

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

The ink is not dry yet on the recruiting class for 2013. In fact, no high school seniors have yet to sign their scholarships yet, but college coaches are already combing the landscape looking for that next big recruit.

Welcome to the crazy and sometimes unpredictable world of big-time college recruiting. The process never ends.

There is no question why recruiting is called the “life blood” of college football. While the big hype is about this year’s senior class, which can officially sign on Feb. 6, college coaches are already pin-pointing the class of 2014.

With all the talent in the area, it’s not surprising to hear that some big-name coaches are popping up at high school campuses in the Southern Crescent.

Just the other day, Urban Meyer, the coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes, made his way to Locust Grove. He was there to pitch his Buckeye program to Cortez McDowell, who might be the top prospect in the area.

Brian Kelly, fresh off a run for the national championship at Notre Dame, was at Eagle’s Landing Christian. Although ELCA’s defensive end Isaac Rochell has committed to sign with the Fighting Irish, there is no doubt that Kelly wanted to be seen by junior Andrew Williams, who currently holds 19 college offers.

For college coaches looking at the junior class, it’s all about being seen.

Under NCAA rules, college coaches are not permitted to initiate contact with underclassmen. However, they can talk to the recruit’s high school coach and pass their phone number to them. Juniors are allowed to call the coach.

Just imagine you are a junior in high school and your coach gives you Nick Saban’s number.

“It’s all about visibility for these college coaches,” said Keith Niebuhr, a recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com. “It’s all about building relationships.”

And the sooner the better for college coaches.

For the next year, the top recruits in the class of 2014 will be bombarded with calls, texts and letters from some of the top coaches in college football. They will hear some of the same sales pitches that their senior teammates have been hearing.

“It’s all new to this junior class, so it’s exciting right now,” Niebuhr said.

Just wait until five months from now. Many will be ready to change their phone numbers.

It can become overwhelming at times. Add the addition of social media where they are being befriended by schools’ alumni following their every move.

Because this process never ends, the Class of 2015 will soon be in the spotlight.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.