The Press & Dakotan will have a special Signing Day sports chat Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Midco Sports broadcasters Jay Elsen (USD) and Tom Nieman (SDSU) will be our guests.
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BY JEREMY HOECK
Before 2012, I wasn’t one to really get excited about football recruiting classes.
There were stories that needed to be done as the University of South Dakota beat writer, but I never really dug deep into “stars” or “verbals” or “commits” as much I have over the past year.
Two key reasons, really. First, Joe Glenn. A new coach for the Coyotes meant new energy, and with this specific coach, you were getting national championship success and a genuine personality. It didn’t take a football guru to see that the combination of both would result in better players. I heard the quote, “Joe Glenn wins titles in living rooms” many times from many different people, and after spending quite a bit time around him, you could see why. He would be the kind of guy who could walk into a room, talk to a kid’s parents about responsibility and accountability and immediately win them over.
Glenn came aboard in Vermillion late in the recruiting cycle for 2012, so he never really got a complete chance to hit the road and meet kids. His assistants and coordinators were still able to put together a full recruiting class a year ago, but we all knew 2013 would be a different story.
As we turn the clock to National Signing Day today (Wednesday, Feb. 6), it’s time to finally see what Glenn and his staff were able to do with a full year together.
The first thing you’ll notice when you look at the list is locations. USD still has a strong presence in states like Illinois and Iowa, but now you’ll notice more Kansas kids, more Colorado kids and more kids from Oklahoma. Those are areas in which Glenn and defensive coordinator Jason Petrino have connections, and they are all areas that don’t have a strong FCS footprint (Oklahoma and Kansas have a combined zero FCS schools, while Colorado only boasts Northern Colorado).
Now, the second key reason why I, and the Press & Dakotan, devoted more attention to recruiting in 2013?
One and ten.
That was USD’s record last season, Glenn’s first. The Coyotes were competitive in a handful of games, but still went 0-8 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference — including lop-sided losses to rivals North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
The average person probably thought, ‘How can you recruit to a program that won one game?’ That’s what caught my interest after last season’s finale in Brookings. How would Glenn and his staff go out and convince top-end players to join the program?
By looking at the list of names we’ll see today (Wednesday), and by comparing the offers to these kids from other “like” schools, you can see that USD didn’t exactly lose ground.
Now, it’s also important to remember that 95 percent of the recruits announced today will not see the field in 2013, and most probably won’t become regular starters until 2015. That’s where we have to hold off on anointing these kids as the next great thing; their impact will not be felt right away. Sure, you might have a couple sneak through and see immediate time (I’m looking at the kicking position as one in particular), but it’s about building depth.
You can’t win a national championship with one recruiting class, and in USD’s case, you probably won’t see an immediate jump to 8 wins and a playoff berth.
For now, though, it’s worth noting that if a person was going to rank this year’s recruiting class among previous USD classes, I’d judge it as the best.
• The 2009 class brought the Coyotes Will Powell and Tyler Starr, as well as future starting offensive linemen Marc Murtha, Steve Nelson and Cody O’Neill.
• The 2010 class included future top linemen Matt Huffer and Andrew Schofield, as well as walk-on quarterback Josh Vander Maten and receiver Terrance Terry. Kicker Kevin Robb was also in this class.
• The 2011 class included back-up quarterback Kevin Earl, linebacker Ryan Hillier, and defensive linemen Drew Iddings and Nick Jacobs.
• The 2012 class (the first under Glenn) brought USD two freshmen who played right away: cornerback Ricky Reeves and linebacker Keyen Lage. Two juco transfers, safeties D.J. Wakes and Devin Taverna, also played right away.