likely to wait to make their college selections.
“All of this stuff like early commitments are now like a thing of the past, like we’ve gone back 40 years,” Salem said.
Players who were hoping to gain recruiting traction during high school spring football workouts will be hit hardest by the coronavirus calendar changes.
Players such as Winter Park running back Ayron Rodriguez, Apopka defensive back Jaquan Lowman, Edgewater defensive lineman Kenneth Brown, Olympia wide receiver Isaiah Davis and Mount Dora Christian defensive end Kevon Ellis were all trying to impress recruiters who were supposed to visit Florida later this spring.
The players know the COVID-19 crisis has been devastating for many people around the world, but it also could derail their college football dreams.
Rodriguez was the Class 7A player of the year last season at Winter Springs after running for 1,400 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns. He needs this spring football session, not only for recruiting purposes but to get acclimated to his new school.
“Spring was going to be like a grouping time for myself since I transferred. … a time to build that bond with my new teammates,” said Rodriguez, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete.
The thought of not having spring football is a major roadblock. Even though he had a big-time season as a junior, Rodriguez still wasn’t gaining much recruiting attention. He hoped spring football would pave the way for scholarship offers.
“It’s a very big deal because junior-year spring is when all of the recruiters come in and get a look at the 2021 recruiting class,” Rodriguez said. “So it will be hard for the 2021 class to get recruited.”
Salem acknowledged it will be a big drawback for players still under the radar.
“All we can do is recruit from film and show up [for] their senior season, then around Thanksgiving start watching their tape and start recruiting them in December,” Salem said, recalling what used to be the normal football recruiting cycle before the early signing period was established.
“For the states [like Florida] that do have spring practice, compared to the northern states, that’s always been an advantage to the kids in the South.”
Not this year.
In a full-contact sport like football, it’s questionable whether spring football will even take place. For now, the players wait to hear some good news. In the meantime they make up their own workouts or hit local gyms that are still open.
“[These] are trying times for everybody,” Norvell said. “All of these guys are in the same situation. They’re all sitting at home and looking for things to do. … They’re looking for that connection.”
But the bottom line is nothing can replace face-to-face relationships or in-person recruiting evaluations, and coaches nationwide are trying to figure how to adapt without it.
“It’s just going to be harder on everybody,” Salem said. :That’s just life, so you adapt and you adjust. It’s strange, but since I’ve been recruiting a long time, I can say it just goes back like it used to be.”