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Bears canvass state for recruits

Feb. 28, 2001



The Baylor football program has just three wins in the last two seasons, but the Bears will try to improve their winning percentage next season through recruiting.

Baylor recently signed 23 new players from all across the nation. Fourteen of those players are originally from Texas. Of the 102 players listed on the spring roster, 91 are from somewhere within the Lone Star State.

Baylor recruits heavily all over Texas.

'We concentrate on recruiting in the state of Texas,' Baylor recruiting coordinator Dale Steele said. 'Texas is what we call our prime area.'

Steele's job as recruiting coordinator is to make sure everything in the recruiting process is done in an organized way. That is important considering how long the process can take. Many players are looked at while they are still very young.

'Sometimes we start looking at a player as early as that player's ninth grade year,' he said. 'We start looking at them as soon as we identify them.'

Any player that Baylor gives a scholarship to is normally looked at for at least three years. The process starts when Baylor sends letters to that player's high school.

Baylor also looks at several recruiting services. These are different than the online recruiting services such as that people surf the Internet looking at. The services the coaching staff looks at are handled through people who actually go and evaluate the players. The coaching staff then 'cross checks' that information with the high school coaches. Many of the recruiting services on the Internet are based on hearsay, according to head Coach Kevin Steele.

'We don't even look at those because a lot of times they have not even watched the player in person,' he said. 'We have consultants in two areas that we talk to.'

During a player's junior season in high school, he will receive as many as one letter per week from universities interested in his services as a student athlete. The schools can also contact players by telephone.

The recruiting process intensifies during the prospective player's senior year, when the coaches are allowed to visit the player at his high school. Kevin Steele is allowed to visit each potential player one time during the player's senior year. The player is interviewed and asked about his possible interests in the university.

These interviews occur at a time known as the contact period.

At the time known as the quiet period, only phone calls can be used to contact the player. There is also a dead period in which there can be no communication with the recruit.

Baylor signed six junior college players during this year's signing period.

Junior college players are typically signed when the team has lost a number of players at a certain position.

'Junior college players are more mature because they have already been in a college environment,' Kevin Steele said. 'They can give us immediate help, and that is very important in this league.'

Junior college and high school players combined, Baylor starts out the recruiting process looking at anywhere between 2,500 and 3,000 potential players in the spring.

Nine coaches look at their needs at each position and how that position can best be filled. Week by week the number of players on the list becomes shorter. Normally, around 75 players are being looked at in the last month before signing day.

'The list gets smaller and smaller as we evaluate our needs, the player's needs, the player's academics and the player's family,' Dale Steele said.

This past recruiting season Baylor was looking at only 'about 27 players' with two weeks to go until signing day.

Coaches also take into consideration a recruit's ties to Baylor. That player is given a 'tag' in the computer to remind the coaches that he is connected with Baylor in some way.

'We try to be as thorough as possible to those students,' Dale Steele said.

The major theme in the whole recruiting process is filling needs on the team. Whether the player is from junior college or straight out of high school he will not be heavily recruited unless he can fill a need for the team. The team's needs are the most important considerations when looking at a recruit.

'You always start by trying to fill positional needs,' Dale Steele said. 'We also look to establish class balance so that there is not a heavy load of same year players at a position.'

Tight end was the only position for which Baylor did not sign a player. The team has no need for more tight ends at this time.

The recruiting process takes a lot of time and effort from both the colleges coaching staff and the players being recruited.

'It is a year-round process,' Dale Steele said. 'It is not just a one-year thing.'