MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Recruiting for all college sports has faced serious limitations for the past 13 month due to COVID-19.
On March 13, 2020, the NCAA implemented a dead period in which colleges could not host prospective student-athletes for official visits and college coaches could not leave their campuses for evaluations or in-home visits. Thus, almost all interactions between prospects and colleges have been virtual, through platforms like FaceTime and Zoom.
The NCAA has extended that dead period eight times since last March, but soon the dead period may cease.
The NCAA Football Oversight Committee is recommending that a quiet period start on June 1, which will allow college programs to host recruits on official visits to campus. The NCAA Division I Council still must give its final stamp of approval to the recommendation, but as COVID cases decline and vaccine numbers increase, the recruiting world may soon take a step back toward normalcy.
“I’m hopeful that we can have camps, so we can get evaluations in,” noted WVU head coach Neal Brown. “I’m hopeful we can get some official visits in. The class of ’22, with a few exceptions, has not had any opportunity to get on campus. As the vaccine becomes more and more readily available, the hope is that our (positive coronavirus) numbers go down, and thus we’ll be able to host recruits and host camps in a safe environment during June.”
Brown certainly wants some opportunities for face-to-face recruiting, but he doesn’t necessarily want to throw the entire summer up to open or quiet periods.
“I do think we should continue our dead period, just for quality of life for the assistant coaches, in late June and into July,” WVU’s third-year coach stated.
While college coaches want a return of in-person recruiting, some of the things developed this past year are likely here to stay, they hope. While coaches want to actually meet with recruits and their families, supplementing those in-person get-togethers with Zoom teleconferences would seem a nice way to develop the relationships without the cost or burden of travel.
In addition, because COVID suspended spring practice and some of the other summer workouts in 2020, teams were allowed to institute offseason training activities (OTAs) for a couple weeks prior to the start of preseason camp.
Long an ingredient of pro teams, colleges would like for OTAs to remain part their summer regime as well.
“I hope we continue what we started last year in terms of OTA-style practices at the end of the summer, kind of the last two weeks of the summer session. I think those proved very effective,” noted Brown. “I can speak for myself and also the coaches I spoke with through our (American Football Coaches Association), and we thought the number of injuries was down this past year during fall camp and into the season. I know that was the case for us, and I think the OTA-style workouts were a positive in helping prevent injuries. Those OTA workouts allowed us to do football movements, more than just strength and conditioning training. The players were able to go out and run plays – defense, offense and special teams. I hope we can continue to do that because it was a positive for our players.”
So, while Brown wants part of his game to return to normal, he also hopes other recent changes stay in place.