Rick Neuheisel returned to college football this season coaching at his alma mater UCLA. He hasn’t been on the college sideline since 2002 and in the short time span the recruiting process has changed drastically. Today’s Orange County Register detailed his adjustment back to campus.
The last time Neuheisel was working in college football, things weren’t quite so frenetic. Back in the good old days of 2002, a coach could actually watch a player develop during his senior season, then decide whether to offer him a scholarship.
“It’s almost as if you have to recruit in January – juniors rather than seniors,” Neuheisel said. “It’s shifted drastically since the last time I was in it. That doesn’t mean we can’t do a good job, but it certainly has changed.”
In this fall’s most crucial competition for UCLA – landing young talent that can get the program back on its wheels – Neuheisel’s staff has had a slow start. The Bruins thus far have secured seven verbal commitments, ranking their 2009 class at No. 39 in the nation according to rivals.com.
Ohio State already has essentially filled its class with 25 commitments. USC already has heard from 16 players ready to be Trojans. LSU has 19 commitments, Texas 18.
“In my opinion, Neuheisel is still in a different time. He thinks it’s still 2001 and he can wait until their senior season, watch a little more, evaluate and then offer,” said rivals.com recruiting expert Rick Kimbrel. “Now, in today’s world, if you see a good football player as a junior, you have to assume he’s only going to get better as a senior.”
In this sped up time table recruits can’t afford to sit back and hope they are spotted by a scout. Even if they are good enough they could miss out on a scholarship just because all of the slots were snapped up by other recruits. That is the reason many recruits are turning to NCSA to make sure they are being evaluated before it is too late.