3 Recruiting Q&As: BYU, Purdue, Nevada

Posted Jan 21, 2014

3 Recruiting Q&As with Scout's BYU, Purdue and Nevada publishers

3 Recruiting Questions With Scout Publishers
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1) In a strange way, did the awful first year help Darrell Hazell? Come to Purdue and play right away? Chris Emma, BoilerSportsReport.com - From a recruiting perspective, 1-11 may have been better than 5-7. Now, prospects are drawn to the idea of playing immediately in the Big Ten, becoming a part of a program that could be on the rise (there's nowhere to go but up). Darrell Hazell gets a free pass for his first year, and even for part of his second season. The reality is that this roster was just depleted. Hazell is finding recruits to build the program up.

2) Past coaches complained about trying to recruit nationally? Has Hazell been able to change anything and appear to a different class of recruits?

What Hazell has done is build a staff with a national reach, finding assistants with backgrounds all over key recruiting grounds - Florida, Texas, California, etc. Purdue's recruiting will start and end in the Midwest, but Hazell can hope to routinely pick prospects from the prime recruiting regions.

3) What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

Offensive line, without a doubt. The Boilermakers' offense struggled as a whole, but those issues all started up front. The rushing game was nonexistent and Danny Etling wasn't able to stay upright for a good portion of each game. Even worse, Purdue loses three starters from the offensive line. Purdue must find guys to jump right onto the field with this 2014 class.

For more, go to TotalBlueSports.com

1) Has being an independent helped, hurt or hasn't mattered?

Jake Hatch, TotalBlueSports.com - When BYU went independent in 2011, visibility & exposure were the rally cries of what BYU was going independent for. Playing regularly on the ESPN networks has helped BYU get into homes that otherwise would have been closed to them. Recruits wanted to know more about BYU because of its exclusive TV contract with ESPN and its own dedicated TV network in BYUtv. Athletes have been more intrigued by the Cougars by the exposure but the BYU coaching staff has had to put in a lot of effort to make sure to capitalize on that increased visibility. With the hire of Robert Anae and the new offensive staff last offseason, you've seen a new age of recruiting for BYU begin to unfold. They are reaching into areas of the country that they used to ignore and are looking for the best athletes they can find. It's far from a finished product and no one knows what the future holds for BYU as an Independent but Bronco Mendenhall and his assistants are working to use their unique position in the college football world to their advantage.

2) Does Bronco Mendenhall want to be more pass oriented, or does he want to get quarterbacks to run like Taysom Hill?

Bronco Mendenhall has gone all in on dual threat quarterbacks. After seeing quarterbacks like Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Brett Ratliff, Colin Kaepernick, & Christian Ponder, among other quarterbacks, gash his team with both their arm and legs during his coaching tenure, he decided that was the type of quarterback he wanted in place on his team at BYU. Coach Mendenhall thinks in terms of what he as a defensive mind would not want to defend and has sought to install that on his offense. Taysom Hill is the prototype of what Coach Mendenhall & Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae want in their "Go Fast, Go Hard" spread offense. Hill's struggles early on in 2013 as a passer were a cause for concern but his numbers steadily improved throughout the season. Based on the quarterbacks BYU is targeting in recruiting like Ronald Monroe out of Texas and Kimane Domena in the Seattle, Washington area, it appears that the era of the dual threat quarterback in Provo are going to continue.

3) What's the No. 1 need the team needs to fill?

The No. 1 need for BYU in recruiting is offensive linemen. BYU's struggles on offense throughout the majority of the past three seasons come down to the ineffectiveness of the frontline at times. There have been talented individuals on those offensive fronts like Braden Brown and Braden Hansen but BYU has been unable to put together a cohesive unit. BYU understands the most effective offenses are built in the trenches and they have two coaches who are focused on that unit in offensive line Coach Garret Tujague and OC Robert Anae lending his assistance. Both are former linemen at BYU and know that the backbone of an explosive offense is a dominant offensive front. BYU has 3 commits in the 2013 class right now in Tejan Koroma, Chandon Herring, and Austin Chambers. Koroma will enroll this summer while Herring and Chambers will go on LDS missions prior to enrolling. BYU is also firmly in the mix for Damien Mama and will host him on an official recruiting visit January 31. If Mama signs with BYU, that would signify that brighter days are ahead for the Cougars on the offensive line. It is no stretch that if BYU can field a more effective offensive line, Hill's 2013 numbers could be easily surpassed in 2014, as he is a dynamic talent.

For more, go to SilverandBlueSports.com

1) How much has the recruiting changed under Brian Polian as opposed to Chris Ault?

Neil Henderson, SilverandBlueSports.com - I would say the two biggest differences between Nevada recruiting under Ault to now, under Polian, has been money and energy.

One of the first major requests Polian made to the boosters and Doug Knuth, the new athletic director, was for more money for recruiting. I don't know how big an increase they got, but I do know that Nevada's recruiting budget has been at or near the bottom of the MWC and WAC for years. Polian said Nevada's budget was on par with teams in the MAC like Ohio, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan that don't recruit outside their respective states. What Ault and his staff did with the meager budget they had was pretty astounding when you compare the budgets they were competing against and the teams that they were able to field.

Under Ault, Nevada primarily focused on Northern and Southern California. They had been making inroads into Texas in Ault's last few years but NorCal and SoCal were their bread and butter. Under Polian, they are recruiting kids from California, Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois and Florida. The recruiting footprint seems to have expanded quite a bit. I'm not sure if they has to do with money and/or Polian's energy and willingness to get out on the road and go into the living rooms of kids. I've heard Ault didn't go into many living rooms, he mostly met with kids on their official visits and let his assistants do the living room work.

Ault also appeared more guarded about letting names of recruits out for fear of drawing competition from BCS conference programs. Polian does not seem to shy away from that at all. Under Ault it was rare for us to hear about many recruits giving a verbal until right before signing day, Polian's staff had over 20 verbals before the end of the season. Brian and his staff seem to believe strongly that if they can get a kid to take an official visit, the campus at Nevada and the Reno/Tahoe area will sell itself against all but perhaps the top few programs in the Pac-12.

Polian has often been quoted as saying he believes you can "out work" competitors in recruiting. Brian's staff seems to be finding the kind of kids they want, athletic kids with good grades, get them to verbally commit as early as possible, then hold onto them until signing day. Ault and his staff were much more guarded about who they were really after. Some of Ault's biggest signings over the years were announced on signing day and we had often never heard the kid's name associated with Nevada before that day.

2) What's the biggest selling point right now? Has the upgraded Mountain West helped?

Campus, locale, Kaepernick and the Pistol. The staff really feels like the University of Nevada campus and the Reno/Tahoe area compares well to our peers in the MWC as well as some of the Pac-12 for the right kind of kid. Kaepernick's success has certainly not hurt Nevada's profile and I know the staff has made it a point to feature Nevada alums that are currently playing in the NFL. The father of the Pistol offense may be gone but Polian was smart to keep it. It's been Nevada's identity for almost a decades now, and with its spread through the prep ranks, it hasn't hurt to have so many kids coming in who have played in the offense in high school.

The move to the Mountain West has helped. There is a little more money there and the programs are closer to peer programs and natural regional rivals. The WAC was spread out and lacked the top to bottom quality that the MWC has.

3) What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

Nevada's biggest needs are on the offensive and defensive line. Nevada played pretty well in the first half of almost every game this season but nearly always fell apart in the second half. Nevada lost two veteran senior offensive linemen after the 2012 season, then three or four other offensive linemen to grades, injury and off the field problems before the team hit the 2013 Fall Camp. Nevada's 2013 offensive lacked depth, experience and struggled and it showed. Even though they were frequently able to generate a good push in the first half of games, they almost always wore down in the second half, where most of Nevada's games were lost.

The defensive line was athletic but lacked size. They essentially fielded a defensive line made up entirely of defensive ends. They could be disruptive early in games but, like the offensive line, they frequently wore down in the second and started getting burned by the run. They really need some pass rushing DT's with good size.

Aside from that, Nevada looks pretty solid. They return one of the MWC best QB's in Sr. Cody Fajardo, they lose only two starters on offense, Brandon Wimberly at WR and Joel Bitonio at OT. On defense, they only lose one starter, DT Jack Reynoso.