How Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and his staff sort through prospective recruiting prospects

The Nick Saban approach to football recruitingThis is an older article that I still feel is very important to the overall recruiting process.  It talks about how the Alabama staff sorts through prospects so it still worth the read.

One of the most difficult processes for parents and athletes to understand is what goes into the football recruiting process (Or any other sports for that matter).  With highlight videos, summer camps, game tapes, combines, visits, Junior Days, and so many other aspects it is tough to really get a feel for what goes on and how coaches notice athletes.

Well, thank goodness of The Birmingham News. While I do question that they are not going to be completely honest, the newspaper had a chance to take an in-depth look at what the University of Alabama does during the football recruiting process.  And since the Crimson Tide are among the nations most tradition rich teams and Nick Saban among the top coaches in the country, this is a fantastic article to read.

Click here to read the full article but there are going to be many things that I plan to break down.  Saban is quoted in the article early on as saying, “Personnel evaluation is a very inexact science.”  The reason it is so inexact is because it is the opinion of the coach.  A coach may not like the way a certain player plays but that doesn’t mean another coach on staff feels differently.  The evaluation process is strictly an opinion of what these coaches think of athletes.  And if you have been in coaching long enough, there is little doubt that over time you have missed out on an evaluation for a player or two.

In the past two years, Alabama has collected more than 5,000 tapes. The staff prefers old-school VHS to DVD, because of the smoother picture when they watch a play in reverse. I have actually heard this about many coaches and they feel the same way with game tape.  They would actually prefer the VHS tapes just because it is easier for them to fast forward and pause when they want to see the smallest detail.  This came from a Final Four basketball coach within the last few years.

A recruiting graduate assistant is the first screener. Then the assistant for the region looks at a player’s tape and makes notes. Next up is the position coach. Finally, if worthy, it lands in Saban’s pile with an individual file. This is where I question if they are being totally honest.  While I am sure Alabama has a ton of graduate assistants, your ability may be judged by someone who is 23-years old and new to the job.  To make it past them, if the tape is watched, is not an easy task.  These graduate assistants do not want to waste the time of assistant coaches by giving them tape of bad players.  They are going to be extremely picky and it gets tougher and tougher going up the line.  You really, really have to show something on that tape to make it into Saban’s office.  I really wish they would have mentioned the number of tapes that make it that far.

A player gets a rating for his height, weight and speed compared to the ideal for his position. A “1-1-1” prospect has ideal everything. Other schools will use an A, B, C system during the recruiting process.  They want to make sure their evaluation is as complete as possible, especially in football.

“He likes people that ask questions, that think for themselves,” said Gadsden City coach Joe Billingsley, whose former star linebacker Jerrell Harris is a UA freshman. “In their recruitment of Jerrell, they liked that he wanted to know why. (Saban) likes people who think on their feet.” All coaches like to find intellectual kids because it shows that when they need to learn plays and formations, it won’t be tough for them.  It also means it may be easier for them in the classroom.

National Signing Day comes in February. But by January, the staff is already working toward the next class. This is something all of the top colleges do.  In order to stay on top, they need to be aware of who is next in line at those schools.

Again, this is a very interesting article for recruiting junkies.  Make sure to check it out by clicking here.

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