I’ve been having a blast over the past two weeks taking questions via e-mail and direct messages on social media. I can assure you that I’ll get back to everything by the end of the week, even if it’s not picked to be answered for mailbag features. As a reminder, highlight reels are reserved for e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, but any questions/tips are best for my DM’s on Twitter, while new commitments can be submitted with confirmation at this link.
This week’s mailbag delves into two questions concerning the new recruiting rules as well as a look at Georgia, a growing lacrosse hotbed. There’s a whole lot of great content on Recruiting Rundown this month, so take a look at that along with our list of events that we’ll be covering between now and the holiday season.
Mailbag, 9/27: Maryland’s Recruiting, Emphasizing Showcases, Ivy Verbiage
Introducing The LI Elite 80 on 11/4, Bolstered by Division I’s Top Head Coaches
No. 30 Junior Cam Henry’s Discusses His Decision To Attend Duke
Recap Of the Pursuit, Put On By FCA To Develop Players On & Off The Field
Mailbag, 10/16: My Thoughts on Poaching, The Benefits of a PG Year, 2020 Recruiting
-I am curious as to how you think recruiting rules will evolve over time. As a father of a current sophomore who plays football, I think the sport is missing out on the summer period for kids to talk schools… What are your thoughts on the feasibility of a 6/1 start for conversations versus 9/1? My view is that 9/1 limits kids who play a fall sport as they can only really visit on Sundays in the fall, but interested in your view here -Jerry in North Carolina
I’ve talked at length about many of the positives of these new recruiting rules. Let’s be real, there aren’t many negatives. However, this is certainly the biggest (if not the only) drawback: the September 1st start date absolutely negatively affects multi-sport athletes when it comes to being evaluated by coaches and ultimately visiting the college campuses. To answer the first portion, the NCAA shocked us all by passing a lacrosse-only rule and I don’t see them amending it anytime soon, if at all. They’ve probably done enough to combat early recruiting, so change may not be feasible.
Before I get into more detail, it’s a given that we have to applaud the IWLCA (the women’s side deserves so much credit) and IMLCA, in addition to US Lacrosse, for pushing this and ultimately having it pass. It may even be nitpicky to some that we have to criticize any aspect of it. At the end of the day, the current climate is 100 times better than what we have experienced over the last five years with early recruiting.
It would have been awesome if we had a summer start date for contact between juniors and coaches, just as an initial way to build relationships and feel out the two-sided interest level before August’s much-needed quiet and dead periods. When it comes to actually visiting the programs, I go both ways in terms of my belief of when that process should begin. Visiting schools during the summer is advantageous for timing reasons – players and families are already out traveling for the recruiting circuit and school isn’t a conflict. At the same time, just about anybody will tell you that it is best to visit while class is in session to see what the campus is like with the students and lacrosse players on campus. That’s extremely beneficial so that players can see how they would fit in, plus it’s even more vital with these new rules due to the fact that visiting juniors/seniors will actually be on the same roster with the guys on the current roster. During the early recruiting period, HS freshmen were spending time with players they would never be on the same team with. What does that do?
Moving onto the fall & winter sports aspect, there’s no doubt that it gets tricky for multi-sport athletes to visit these campuses… along with balancing the rigors of junior year academics. A lot of schools, states and coaches differ on practices and games, though almost all of them end up holding games and/or practices on Fridays and Saturdays. Of course, it’s also hard (near impossible, quite frankly) to balance fall sports with the November circuit, a time hugely important to jumping onto the radar of college coaches. That doesn’t leave much time for college visit and commitments, so I’d expect several more of those in months like January and February in comparison to the past.
I’m hoping to expand more on this over the next few months, as it’s been a hot topic with college coaches, so stay tuned for that.
What non-hotbed lacrosse state is on the rise? -Anonymous
To me, it’s Georgia. The Peach State has gradually been churning D1 talent over the past few years, it’s just a matter of them producing at the next level, though MLL All-Star like Scott Ratliff (Loyola ’13) is certainly an exception. The numbers generally back up the emergence of the Atlanta area as a hotbed: between the 2017’s, 2018’s and 2019’s, the state of Georgia totals 47 Division I recruits – a higher volume than established states like Colorado and Ohio. I don’t think that the Peach State is too far behind places like Texas and California, states that sent a combined 58 recruits to the Division I level this fall. Also, that’s just what was submitted to Recruiting Rundown’s Class of 2017 commit list.
Similar to the aforementioned states, Georgia is a state full of athletes and former college standouts eager to develop the next generation. All-time Syracuse greats Liam Banks and John Zulberti help coach up offensive studs with their LB3 Thunder club and facilities, while MLL players like Ratliff, Myles Jones and TJ Kemp call Atlanta home. Current college standouts like Nate Solomon (Syracuse) have had early success in college, but watch for Georgia’s strong 2018 and 2019 groups as those classes continue to develop heading into college. There’s no doubt that everyone will soon take notice of the growth, which is helped by the level of coaching, competitive HS leagues, and some fantastic teaching-heavy clubs in Atlanta’s suburbs.
In general, do the coaches prefer the new recruiting rules? How many parents are complaining about it? -Anonymous
There’s no doubt that the college coaches largely prefer the new recruiting rules. The morale on the sidelines was noticeably high this summer, as guys didn’t have to chase around rising freshmen and sophomores and instead focused on juniors and seniors. This goes without saying, but that’s a much better and more realistic route when you’re trying to recruit difference makers to your program and have them pan out. Securing commitments from 14-year-olds was a slippery slope.
However, the new rules aren’t completely beneficial for all parties involved: take a hard look at how many schools took Class of 2020 (about 1/3 of Division I) and Class of 2019 verbals (way more than that) before the rules changed. There’s a strong opinion that schools from the Patriot League and CAA, for example, were able to secure commitments that they otherwise wouldn’t get if not for early recruiting. I’ve said this before, but under the new rules, the rich will get richer. The Big 10, ACC and Ivy League will dominate even more than before – my rankings the past few years have included players from 30 or so different D1 programs, so that number may even go down starting with the Class of 2021.
On the parent side, I’m just guessing, but I would imagine that they’re incredibly happy. There’s obviously more time for kids to develop. Players who haven’t even gone through puberty don’t have to look at Twitter college announcements wondering when they’re gonna be next. They don’t have to spend gobs of money getting in front of college coaches early on in high school, they can instead focus on club ball and teaching camps. This is among the best things to ever happen to club, high school and college lacrosse, and our sport is certainly way better off without early recruiting.