When former five-star defensive lineman Ed Oliver took a visit to the Houston campus many years ago he asked one of the coaches upon his arrival where Bryan Carrington was. Carrington at the time was a student-assistant, sitting in class. And he was one of the Cougar staff members Oliver chatted with the most.
A terrific networker with a desire to meet and talk to people, you fast forward five years later and in my opinion Carrington is one of the more important off-field staffers in college football, having carved out a niche he started at his alma mater.
Now holding the title of Director of Recruiting at the University of Texas, Carrington has been instrumental in landing the likes of Caden Sterns, Joseph Ossai, Bijan Robinson and countless more. He’s oftentimes one of the ambassadors at the forefront of the Longhorns football program on the recruiting trail, building relationships all over the state and country. Connections that carry over to when these prospects are on the team that help maintain the team culture. Bonds that could also prove to be big down the road, whether it’s landing a player from this new and trendy NCAA Transfer Portal or even keeping one of your own out of those waters.
Carrington isn’t the only one that shines in this role.
You have Gavin Morris at USC, perhaps the pioneer of the gig with the Director of Player Development title who helps the Trojans secure blue-chipper year after year, most notably the No. 1 player in the country in Korey Foreman this cycle.
Jeff Martin is the Lead Personnel Analyst/Player Development at his alma mater LSU where he certainly impacted Grant Delpit and Maurice Hampton among many others and was the first face Joe Burrow saw when he landed in Baton Rouge as a potential transfer. Burrow made his own decision but the fact that Martin was the first person to greet him when he stepped off the plane shows you the importance of his role in the recruiting department.
There are several others like these gentlemen – Chip Viney at Oklahoma, Pop Cooney at Miami, David Cooper at Florida, Corey Phillips formerly of Vanderbilt, Mason Smith currently at Mississippi State – as guys that constantly promote the school and coaching staff they work for in helping land key recruits and transfers.
I think every college program should boast someone of this skill set, a person with tremendous people skills that can articulate the program’s message daily on the recruiting trail, advocating for the staff, the academics and everything else a football program would like put in a positive light. A person who’s sole job being maintaining relationships with prospects, their parents, high school coaches, 7on7 coaches, trainers etc. Someone that can keep the lines of communication going when head coach and assistants are busy with other things. We’ve seen graduate assistants come through in this regard as well. These programs that already have people in place are lucky to have these guys. It’s probably the difference in at least a few recruiting wins a year.
With that, I think we’re going to see more schools look for guys to be on their staff solely for harvesting relationships and talent acquisition. What’s the point of spending countless hours evaluating and putting your recruiting board together based on talent and personality fit, if you’re not going to exhaust every resource in trying to sign the ones you want the most. There are ace on-field recruiters all over the country, a few head coaches that put in more hours than their peers, but coaching staffs aren’t stocked with go-getters from top to bottom.
None of these off-field recruiting roles were really appreciated from a compensation standpoint until recently. It’s been awesome to see the raises that off-field recruiting guys have been getting in college football, but that increasing salary has really only gone to the leaders in the department. The trickle down has been slow, and while these guys mentioned don’t maybe head the off-field staff, what they do has great value as well. When there’s a big recruiting weekend, Carrington, Morris, Martin and company are there for every experience. If it’s a defensive lineman on campus, does your receiver coach need to be there? The off-field recruiting guys do. It’s really a 24/7 job including Sundays and holidays in the previous said talent acquisition role.
Earlier this week 247Sports Director of Video and Late Kick Host Josh Pate scribed “evolution of the transfer portal has necessitated a restructuring of college football scouting departments. Any program lacking this 4th category is already way behind.
General Manager/Dir of Player Personnel
Dir. of HS scouting
Dir. of JUCO scouting
Dir. of FBS/FCS scouting
Pate agrees this fifth role of talent acquisition regardless of the title given is just as important. These guys don’t miss phone calls from prospects. They’re constantly available. Sometimes they even replace a coach on the road recruiting. With the time, energy and emotion put into it, hopefully the compensation soon matches. The first few programs that really invest in what is essentially a full-time recruiter, will be ahead of the curve.