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High school football players, coaches navigate new recruiting landscape

Without 7 on 7 opportunities, team camps or even spring visits, late blooming high school football recruits hoping to play at the next level are working through new challenges.

Posted: May 26, 2020 7:45 PM
Updated: May 27, 2020 8:03 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- It's been an understandably tough spring for athletes looking to get a chance to play at the next level. But for juniors, particularly football players that use this spring and summer to raise their stock, it's got an added layer of difficulty. Which means a recruiting landscape that looks like more the good old days than the future. 

"I mean, it's tough," says Churchill rising senior Jamal Naghiyev, himself a rated recruit. "If you want to play college football, this is a time where college coaches come and see you and see you practice. And that's when they come and talk to you and you can get an offer. But for kids like me and kids around Eugene it's tough right now."

Naghiyev isn't alone in feeling that way. All across the country, rising seniors who spent their junior year not playing many snaps rely on spring camps and other offseason opportunities to get in front of college coaches. In home visits have also been essentially stopped in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, leaving athletes and any interested staffs at the next level to communicate over social media or video chat. 

"We've got a lot of kids trying to get placed," South Eugene head football coach Kenny Koberstein explains. "We don't have five stars or anything at South. So a lot of it is word of mouth and film."

But for juniors looking to make a big jump during typical recruiting camps in the spring, the window to impress coaches is smaller and increasingly virtual.

"We just stay connected through twitter, we text a lot, usually we facetime and just talk," Naghiyev says of his experience with coaches actively recruiting him. "They want me to come for visit but I can't because of the coronavirus so I have to wait for all this to be done."

"This time of year when we're trying to sell a kid, they'll say let's get this kid to our camp," Koberstein continues. "So there's all these opportunities for kids to get seen before the season starts are gone."

Many late blooming recruits are athletes that undergo a growth spurt late in their high school careers, or potentially spent their junior year behind an elite athlete at that particular position. Whatever the case may be, athletes that hoped to see their recruitment ramp up in the spring months are instead working out as much as they can as they wait for offseason workouts to begin.

And for that rising senior class it's that hard work that will make the difference if or when there is new game tape to film.

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