DANIA BEACH — If you’re a recruit who wants to play for him, you can reach Mark Richt anytime — except for when he’s in church or with his family, and even then, you might get lucky.
That’s what today’s recruiting landscape has created for all coaches, Richt included.
“The wisdom of the NCAA now is that we can text them 24 hours a day, so that’s fun,” he said Monday evening while addressing a room of several hundred Hurricanes boosters at The Casino at Dania Beach.
That’s part of the game, as is direct messaging on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. In many cases — such as with Twitter direct messaging — coaches and recruits had to mutually follow each other to be able to communicate (this is in addition to the more regulated phone calls and in-person visits, of course). Now, with the NCAA allowing coaches unlimited texts with recruits, “everybody knows [recruits’] numbers or they get them pretty easily,” Richt said, speaking to five reporters after the event. “It’s going to be tougher on them than it’s going to be on us.”
Is there ever a time a recruit can’t reach him?
“If I am in church, I shut my phone off,” Richt said. “There aren’t many times [it is off]. Like my wife’s graduation [from nursing school] the other night, my phone was off. But most of the time you’ve got to have it on, and quite frankly, if there’s a number I don’t recognize it, I’m usually answering it because it could be a recruit and I can’t call him back, especially if they’re younger. If they’re [in the] 2017 class, you might be able to text him, ‘Hey, call me back.’ If they’re younger, if you don’t answer the phone, you can’t even text them to say, ‘Hey, I missed your call. Call me back.’ A lot of those younger kids, you pick up the phone.”
Richt is giving his number out all across the country, especially in the Southeast, and especially this month when high school spring football is humming along. His assistants are on the road recruiting Monday through Thursday, reconvening in the office on Friday to cross-check what they’ve seen and strategize about where to go next.
One important activity: players are rated on a scale, where a “1” recruit is a “no-brainer,” in Richt’s words, a player everyone wants; a “2” is a player worthy of an offer, “3” is close to being worthy of an offer, “4” is someone UM wouldn’t take and “5” is a quality walk-on.
How many “1s” are in South Florida? “There’s a boatload,” Richt said. “We got plenty of 1s, 2s and 3s on the board from all over the state, all over the country. There’s more than we can take, that’s for sure.”
Richt said he’s recruiting in Georgia — where he has deep ties and plenty of respect from his 15 years as UGA’s coach — and said UM will hit “all the way down the coast” this month.
“There are kids we’ve seen video on that have interest,” he said. “If we think the interest is sincere, we’ll go. I’m sure we’ll end up in California, all around the country. The Southeast region is where we’re going to be spending most of the time, and obviously right down here in South Florida.
“Guys are being very thorough, doing a good job of bringing back the information, creating the relationship with the coaches. … Everybody is going to be feeling their way around a little bit, creating new friendships, new relationships that will help us recruit their players. It works both ways. Those coaches get excited about their young men getting opportunities to play college ball. We obviously need those kids to help us have success. It’s a good relationship if you do it right.
“I think the big thing is we are up front and honest about everything and all the decisions we make. … When you build trust, you have a chance to recruit down here.”