Getting kids to sign a letter of intent to join your college football program takes more than just a slick haircut, a firm handshake and a smile. Nailing down recruits requires other qualities these days.
Successful college recruiters will have connections — knowing every inch of your recruiting territory and the high school coaches within it. They'll have a tireless approach — unafraid to spend nights in a rental car on the interstate at all hours eating countless dinners from a drive-thru. If at all possible, they won't take "no" for an answer.
It's often a thankless job, unless you're the ones pulling in the blue-chip recruits or major producers on a regular basis. Heading into Wednesday's National Signing Day, here's a look at the guys in the Atlantic Coast Conference that are best at luring recruits:
1. Jim Cavanaugh, Virginia Tech: At 62 years old, Cavanaugh may be one of the deans of ACC assistant coaches, but he takes a backseat to nobody on the recruiting trail. In 2006, he got defensive tackle John Graves. Then, in '07, Cavanaugh picked up Hampton High's Tyrod Taylor, the nation's most coveted dual-threat quarterback, offensive tackle Blake DeChristopher and strong safety Davon Morgan. In ''08, Cavanaugh landed Smithfield High's Dyrell Roberts. Free safety Antone Exum and defensive end James Gayle, both of whom played significant roles this past season, were brought onto Tech's roster in '09 by Cavanaugh. Last year, he got defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins and offensive tackle Mark Shuman. This year, he picked up commitments from offensive tackle Jake Goins, tight end Chris Hall and defensive end Corey Marshall.
2. James Coley, Florida State: This guy definitely doesn't fear a heavy workload. Last year, he was responsible for the recruitment of nearly 40 prospects. Coley, 37, wound up getting 10 of them to sign with the Seminoles, including highly-regarded cornerbacks Lamarcus Joyner and Mike Harris, linebacker Jeff Luc and wide receiver Greg Dent. Joyner and Luc were both considered by recruiting analysts to be among the top three players in the nation at their respective positions. Coley, who is FSU's offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, brought in running back Lonnie Pryor and wide receiver Rodney Smith among others in the '09 class. Pryor and Smith were both looked upon as being top 25 recruits in the nation at their positions.
3. Sam Pittman, North Carolina: As UNC's offensive line coach, it should come as no surprise Pittman has headed up the Tar Heels' recruiting efforts on the line. This year, he got the best offensive line commitment in the state of Virginia from offensive guard Landon Turner of Harrisonburg High in Harrisonburg. Pittman, 49, also got commitments from offensive guard Jarrod James and offensive tackle Kiaro Holts. Turner, James and Holts are all considered by recruiting analysts to be among the nation's 25 best at their respective positions. Last year, Pittman brought in top offensive tackle signees in T.J. Leifheit and James Hurst. In '09, Brennan Williams was one of the nation's top 20 offensive tackles, and Pittman got him. In '08, he also pulled in defensive end Robert Quinn, who could be chosen top 10 in the NFL draft.
4. Jeff Scott, Clemson: He should be pretty good at this recruiting thing, because he has learned from another one of the best in the biz – his father and Clemson associate head coach Brad Scott. Jeff, a Clemson alum, is Clemson's wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. He has headed up Clemson's recruitment this year of Tony Steward, one of the nation's top five linebackers, and Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall recruit in the country and a defensive end from Rock Hill, S.C. This year, Jeff, 31, has gotten a commitment from Charone Peake, one of the nation's top 20 receivers. Last year, Jeff successfully landed defensive end Tavaris Barnes, who entered Clemson as one of the nation's top 75 defensive line prospects. In '09, Jeff got receiver Bryce McNeal, a rising star for the Tigers who had 19 catches for 187 yards this past season as a redshirt freshman.
5. Mike Siravo, Boston College: Siravo, who is BC's defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator, has established himself as one of the ACC's more opportunistic recruiters. In '07, he got a no-name offensive tackle named Anthony Castonzo out of Fork Union Military Academy. Now, Castonzo will likely be a first round draft pick this April. Siravo, 34, edged out Penn State to get Albert Louis-Jean this year after he de-committed from Miami. Louis-Jean is one of the nation's top 25 cornerbacks. Siravo proved his resolve last year when he was able to get Kevin Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis, who was considered one of the nation's top 20 linebackers, committed to BC in '09 as a junior. He backed off the commitment when Frank Spaziani took over at BC for Jeff Jagodzinski, but Siravo hung tough and managed to get Pierre-Louis. Of course, Pierre-Louis went on to become the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year this past season.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times