Joshua Outlaw had more than 20 college football scholarship offers before verbally committing to the University of Florida in April.
M.L. King teammate Jeremy Tyler, a linebacker, has yet to decide among nearly two dozen scholarship offers. Wide receiver Marcus Polite has chosen Louisville from among approximately a dozen schools who wanted his services.
Every offer is the result of college coaches receiving packets of information about a player that includes a highlight DVD, academic scores, statistical information and the results of camps that let colleges know about an athlete’s speed, agility, quickness, strength and jumping ability.
The management of recruiting has become a full-time job at schools such as M.L. King, Stephenson, Tucker, Southwest DeKalb, Columbia and others in the area where more than a dozen players routinely sign football scholarships each year.
Many head football coaches designate an assistant coach to handle all or part of the recruiting duties, in addition to their coaching responsibilities.
“We delegate a coach to handle the recruiting aspect,” said M.L. King head coach Mike Carson. “It’s a lot of work. We had someone do it last year for the first time. They make sure they stay in touch with college coaches and make sure [the colleges] get all the info they need.”
Last year’s recruiting coordinator is no longer with the school, said Carson, who turned over the duties to assistant Nicholas Kashama.
Kashama and others in his position also likely handle the unending stream of phone calls, texts and emails sent by college coaches who are checking up on a player.
Outlaw, who plays on the offensive and defensive line, is one of the top-rated high school players in the state and the No. 1 prospect from DeKalb, according to the recruiting website Scout.com.
“To have him back as an example for the younger players as one of the leaders of the team is very important,” Carson said. “He’s been in the program for four years and he conveys the work ethic we expect here and passes that on to the younger kids.”
First-year Tucker coach Bryan Lamar, who spent seven seasons as an assistant at the school, also understands the marketing aspect of a high school football program. Lamar replaces Franklin Stephens who won two state titles in six seasons at the school.
Earl Miller helped Stephens with recruiting and does the same now for Lamar.
“Tucker is its own brand,” Lamar said. “We’ve had years and years of good coaches, but it’s really about the community and the kids. You can go to other schools to get better athletes, but academics and work ethic is what separates Tucker. When a kid gets to college, there isn’t much he hasn’t seen from a workout standpoint.”
Tradition creates exposure, which is one of the most important things a student-athlete can have when he is being recruited. Attending summer combines is one way college coaches can get the necessary information needed to evaluate a player.
“The kids understand the importance of being exposed and they know those camps will give them a lot of exposure,” Carson said. “Kids will do anything to get that competitive edge and get that information out to the schools.”
College coaches pay close attention to a student-athlete’s academics and his character in addition to their football statistics.
Those two factors have helped Tucker quarterback Juwaan Williams become one of the top recruits in the state. Williams’ primary position at Tucker is quarterback, but he is expected to play wide receiver or defensive back in college.
“He’s got a large skill set—a lot of schools want him as a receiver but some of the bigger schools see him as a defensive back,” Lamar said. “As far as recruiting, you become very valuable if you can play on both sides of the ball.
“Juwaan is an extremely high-character kid and has the ability to play cornerback, safety or wide receiver,” Lamar said. “That’s what makes him so marketable. We’ll move him around. We’ll have to be able to put the ball in his hands.”
Top 10 DeKalb football recruits
Pos. Name School Ht/Wt College choices
OG Joshua Outlaw M.L. King 6-4, 275 Florida*
DE Davin Bellamy Chamblee 6-5, 225 SEC, ACC, Purdue
TE Greg Taboada Marist 6-4, 242 Alabama, FSU, UGA
QB Jonathon McCrary Cedar Grove 6-4, 180 Vanderbilt*
DE Courtney Miggins Miller Grove 6-5, 245
DE David Johnson Lithonia 6-1, 250 South Carolina*
S Juwaan Williams Tucker 6-0, 172 ACC, SEC, ND, Oregon
DE Danny Ezechukwu Arabia Mtn. 6-2, 235 Air Force, Iowa St., ECU
DE Jacarthy Mack M.L. King 6-3, 205 Louisville*
DE Jonathan Wynn Stephenson 6-4, 220 Vanderbilt*
*Verbal scholarship commitment