Roanoke, VA. – “We have about 33 states or so that are actively playing, there’s about 17 or 25 or so states that aren’t underway,” Liberty Director of Player Personnel Ethan Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the average percentage of players the Flames are recruiting in states without fall football is 36%, and 19% of those are in the state of Virginia.
“Where it sticks us, we will prioritize over states that are playing football," Johnson said. “Essentially, in recruiting the junior class, the new class that started in September, all those kids have sophomore tape, so it’s the thirst in the evaluation process to gain more information and watch more tape, and I think a lot of that centers around their junior year.”
At Ferrum college, in-state recruiting has made up 60% of their roster since 2012, according to head coach Clieve Adams.
“The big challenge for us moving forward is the actual 2021 class, their senior film," Adams said. “There’s a lot of guys out there that we may have not rated at the top of our rating, and we give them a middle of the road waiting and say okay we want to see senior film to justify recruitment.”
"That outside of anything poses the biggest challenge for us moving forward,” Adams said.
That leaves high school football coaches as the liaison between their players and the next level.
“I believe that when we pick up the phone, and we do an evaluation, and we want to get a little more information about a kid, we feel comfortable as a staff that we can pick up the phone and trust that high school coach because we have relationships that go back 20 years plus,” Adams said.
Floyd County’s Winfred Beale is entering his 40th year as head coach of the Buffaloes. a man who has surely seen a lot, but never anything like this. “There’s certain things you can’t control. you just have to respond to the circumstances that you’re in," he said.
"I give every one of our kids an A+ on that. They responded. They haven’t complained, made up excuses about things, they say hey this is what is is, we have to adjust adapt to the situation we’re in,” Beale added.
But the biggest message, it seems, is to never lose hope. “It’s just delayed guys, this is not over, there’s still a lot of time left in this process, we’re going to wait on those guys and the types of information we’re going to receive, it’s just a delayed process more than anything else,” Liberty’s Johnson said.
How do you not get in your head about that? That when the spring comes around and you can play, hopefully it all pays off?
“That is sort of the motivation, that’s the motivation for us being out here, getting in the gym, doing what you can to better yourself,” Radford’s Zane Rupe said. “I look at it as this pause, more time to get better, more preparation, that’s what I look at it as to get better in the spring.”