The BYU football program competes against other schools to try to get the best athletes possible to come to Provo to play for the Cougars.
But with the religious and honor code commitments required for all students at the university, BYU has an even smaller pool of recruits to draw from.
That’s why Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall says that having good relationships with high school coaches is vital to BYU’s success.
“The relationships are very important if they are sincere and authentic,” he said. “That’s what we hope people see when they come here, that our staff are caring and genuine people who really want the right players to come here. If that’s the basis of the relationship, then they are generally very productive.”
One of the opportunities the Cougar staff has is the annual coaches clinic, which took place Friday. Throughout the day, high school coaches from throughout the area and across the country gathered at BYU to pick up and few tips and do some networking.
“More than anything, it’s great to get out here and get excited about football,” said Lone Peak head football coach Tony McGeary, who guided his Knights to the 2011 5A state championship and was one of many area high school coaches at the clinic on Friday.
“It’s great to reunite with players you formerly coached and then also see other coaches from around the state and across the country,” he continued. “The presentations were great and it’s a great atmosphere. You try to pick up two or three things you can incorporate.”
Cougar recruiting coordinator Joe DuPaix, who is also the running backs coach, explained that having the coaches in town allows them to get a pretty clear idea of what BYU is looking for from high school athletes.
“I’ve gone into schools and talked to coaches, told them who we were looking at and asked about the underclassmen,” DuPaix explained. ‘They’ll tell me some things and point out some players. I’ll then ask which of the three or four kids we’ve talked about are a BYU fit and they’ll respond that all of them are. When we find out more with about the kids and learn someone has been in trouble with the law or something. Then we have to go back and educate the coaches on what exactly BYU is.
“Most of the Utah coaches know and many out-of-state coaches know, but there is still some educating taking place. When a coach does come visit, it gives him a chance to know what our stances and expectations are, then get to know us as people, it really helps them to direct the right kids to BYU. There are plenty of them out there so we just have to identify them and get them here.”
Mendenhall said there have already been benefits just because some of these high school coaches buy into the type of program BYU is running and point the Cougar staff in the right direction.
“What happens is those coaches leave knowing who we are and what we are looking for,” he said. “When they see someone and are an advocate for what we are doing, they call when they’ve played a school and tell us they’ve seen someone who they’ve heard great things about.”
McGeary said he personally wants his Lone Peak athletes to by happy with their choices when they decide where they will play college football, but he also sees the benefits of good relationships between the coaches at the different levels.
“You build these friendships over the years and I think they are very valuable,” the Knight head coach said. “That way when a coach calls you up, you can be confident that you are going to get an honest evaluation based on the abilities of the kid. That’s the right way to do it and I feel we have that with BYU and Utah and many other schools too.”
DuPaix agreed that while there is a business side to the football coach fraternity, most events like Friday’s clinic are more about people who share a passion coming together.
“You definitely build relationships,” he said. “This clinic serves a lot of different purposes. It also allows coaches to learn and to grow and to share information with each other and with us. To meet these guys and get to know them, certainly pays dividends in recruiting but even more in just creating these relationships.”
This year the participants included some of the top coaches in the country who shared some of their insights on what has worked for them.
“We brought in eight of the best high school coaches from programs around the country, all the way from Florida, Texas, a couple from California, Nevada, Georgia and Idaho,” Mendenhall said. “These are some of the most prestigious coaches there are in high school football and we’re trying to provide a service for our in-state coaches to learn from the other programs that are very successful. It’s great also to have those coaches come so they can learn more about BYU and what we’re about, then take that message back to their programs and communities.”
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or email@example.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.