The coronavirus outbreak has brought about an almost unprecedented period for sports in America.
It started when the college basketball season came to a screeching halt, with most conference tournaments being canceled before then even began and even the national tournament being canned. Then it was all Winter and Spring championships, then all Spring athletics, finally all team activities and recruiting were restricted.
Navigating through this time requires flexibility, adaptability and preparation, all things WVU football head coach Neal Brown is focusing on as he tries to work his way through this confusing time.
In a video conference Thursday morning, Brown talked about how he and his staff are handling recruiting at this time.
The Spring recruiting period is often heavy with on-campus visits and in the Summer universities usually start holding camps so they can do live evaluations of players. Brown said the program is preparing as if they will still be able to host recruits and hold camps but does not really expect that they will.
“Moving around the recruiting periods is going to be a really complicated deal,” Brown said. “I’m very doubtful that we’ll have a Spring recruiting period. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb on that. Will they move some of those things to the Summer? I don’t think so just because I think that’s really complicated.”
Missing out on being able to make live evaluations via camps WVU holds or camps on the national circuit is the biggest challenge, according to Brown.
“Live evaluations are very, very important not only to ourselves, but most college football teams at this level make their decisions on live evals whether it’s in a camp setting, Spring football, whatever it is,” Brown said. “You’re not going to have those live evaluations and so it’s going to change the landscape. It’s another information point or piece of data you’re collecting that you’re not going to have the opportunity to have, which is unfortunate but that’s just part of it and everybody’s on the same playing field.
“What we’re missing out on is, you’re not getting some of the information that you would normally get from the national camp circuit. The other thing you’re missing is the on-campus visits.”
Brown said it is more difficult to keep in contact with a potential recruit when they have not been able to visit WVU yet.
“The real challenges is with those recruits and their families that haven’t been on our campus,” Brown explained. “We’re trying to take West Virginia, what’s great about West Virginia and what we have to offer here and we’re trying to take that to them via different videos and with conversations with different people within our organization.”
The few areas that are not negatively impacted by the changes Brown and his staff have had to make are watching tape and talking to recruits who have already visited campus.
“The evaluations continue and most of those are game or highlight tape evals,” Brown said. “(We’re) actually probably getting ahead of that. Most of our ‘21 class evals have already been done, we’re into the ‘22s and ‘23s now.”
Without Spring practices or meetings to take up most of their time, Brown said he and his staff have been in contact with recruits and families that have already met them and visited WVU more than they usually would be able to.