With his eyes on the future

Ever year, college coaches salivate about the first Wednesday of February. This is their Christmas, their birthday. This is National Signing Day.

At Sam Houston State, it is no different. The coaches recruit year round, scouring all over Texas looking for the right fit in their dynamic passing offense.

On Wednesday morning, the coaches were greeted early as the first letter was signed and faxed in at 7:20 a.m. by linebacker Robert Shaw, the 6 ft., 185 pound linebacker out of Converse Judson. This was a pleasant surprise for the coaches, as defense was a big focal point of this year’s class.

“We had a good class this year,” Head Coach Todd Whitten said. “We got the positions we needed on both offense and defense.”

The class is loaded with talent from schools that are known for football, such as Southlake Carroll, Euless-Trinity, and Odessa Permian.

But this year, the coaches looked further than just Texas. They scouted Oklahoma and Louisiana, as well, and found some big talents.

One of the big recruits was Kyle Webster, the 6-ft. 2-inch quarterback out of Mustang, Oklahoma. Webster, who was named the Oklahoma Class 6A Division I Offensive Player of the Year, committed to Sam Houston State early, passing over offers from Northern Iowa and Central Oklahoma.

The deadline day is over, and Sam Houston has successfully signed 23 new football players. The last player to send in his letter of intent was Eric Fieilo, a linebacker from Trinity High School in Euless.

But all letters are not in. As the day ends, there is one player still waiting, and coaches hope to hear from him on Thursday.

Signing day is the reward the coaches get for hours of hard work. However, it’s not always a joy as some recruits can switch offers at the last minute, and months of hard work are thrown out the door.

SHSU began the recruiting of this class in early August. The coaches were dispatched all over Texas on Friday nights to look for new talent. The biggest areas of concern for this year were linebackers, safeties, and quarterbacks. Every one of these positions was filled.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recognizes two types of visits: official and unofficial. The official visits span over the course of three days, while unofficial visits are just one day long, and normally the recruits just come to see a football game.

SHSU official visits normally happen on a schedule. On Thursday, the recruits arrive and are given a tour of the facilities, including the locker room, the weight room, and stadium.

After that, they are taken to dinner by the coaches andput up in the Campus Hotel.

Fridays start early, as they are taken to breakfast and given a campus tour. They then get to meet their strength and position coaches who explain what it is like to play football for the Bearkats.

The recrruits then go to the Lowman Student Center where they are given lunch and watch team highlight reels.

After lunch, it’s time to meet the team – the recruits meet the players and talk about playing football at Sam Houston.

The last two items of the day are easy. First, they meet with an academic professor in their area of study, and after that, it’s off to dinner again and then back to the Hotel.

Saturdays are the shortest days of the visits, as the recruits have breakfast and head home. It is the coach’s hope that they are impressed by the school and team.

“We try and bring these kids in and show them what this school is all about,” said Mike Salinas, the recruiting coordinator.

Unofficial visits are a bit different. They normally take place on a Saturday of a home game. The recruits show up three hours prior to kick off and get to tour the locker room, meet the team, and then head upstairs to meet Coach Whitten and discuss their future of playing football.

They watch the game and head home, just participating in a simple meet and greet.

The process seems simple, but this is the same tool that every college in America is using, and the only way to get the best team is to show recruits that you genuinely want them at your school.

One thing is for certain, even though this year’s class is final, next year’s class needs to be started on tomorrow. That is the beauty of recruiting; it never stops, not even for a day.

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