February 3rd is the day that all of us Delaware football fanatics have been looking forward to. As soon as the last Letter of Intent is faxed into the football office the recruiting class of 2010 will be announced. Most of us realize that recruiting is a year round process. With that in mind I thought some might find it interesting to take a peek at this process. The University of Delaware recruiting coordinator is Damian Wroblewski. He has answered a few questions that posters on GoHens.net had asked me over the past few months.
GH: There are so many kids playing high school football and we recruit over a pretty big area. How do you identify players that you are interested in?
Coach Wrobo: Each Coach is assigned a geographic area that he actively studies and recruits. Jim Hofher recruits in Central New Jersey and North Carolina. Frank Law recruits parts of New Jersey and North Carolina. Nick Rapone recruits in Western Pennsylvania and Delaware. Brian Ginn recruits throughout most of Virginia. Ben Albert covers New York City and Northern New Jersey. Gregg Perry recruits Eastern Pennsylvania, part of New Jersey and also the Atlanta, Georgia area. Phil Petitte recruits Jacksonville, Orlando and the Tallahassee areas of Florida. I recruit Maryland, DC and part of New York. Through consistent communication with high school coaches, interaction with other college coaches that recruit the area and information that we find on the internet, we constantly gather information and identify prospective student-athletes.
GH: How do you gather information on players you are considering?
Coach Wrobo: Information gathering is done is several steps. First, we mass mail recommendation forms to the high school coaches. Second, we follow up with film and transcript requests. After we determine which kids we might have an interest in, the next step is the "on-the-road" process. We evaluate the Prospective Student-Athlete in a number of different areas. Academic success, athletic ability and character traits are all evaluated. We try to see as many Prospective Student-Athletes as possible through evaluations, camps and contacts. All of these areas are divided during the calendar year as set forth by the NCAA. In addition, we subscribe to several "recruiting services" that provide information in certain regions. We try to be selective in which services we use as we want credible and reliable information. We sometimes can evaluate an athlete if he plays several sports. We may attend his basketball game or his track meet. We not only can watch him but we might get a chance to talk to his coaches, his teachers or his advisors. We can never gather too much information.
GH: How important are your camps in your recruiting process?
Coach Wrobo: Our camps are critical in several facets. First, camps allow us to bring many prospective student-athletes on campus to see firsthand the great opportunity that Delaware offers young people. Second, it allows us to evaluate intangibles of these young men and see their athletic talents in competitive situations with our own eyes. Next, it gives us the opportunity to meet their families. Finally, the prospective student-athlete gets a chance to meet our coaching staff and get a feel for us as coaches and people. Not only do we have a number of camps every year at Delaware but we also attend other camps as well.
"Not only do we have a number of camps every year at Delaware but we also attend other camps as well."
GH: How many coaches are involved in the decision to offer a scholarship?
Coach Wrobo: Let me explain it this way. Let's say that our WR coach finds a good-looking offensive tackle while he is recruiting his assigned area. He will pass his information on to the OL position coach. They will watch his film together. If the position coach likes the player he will pass the info on to the offensive coordinator. They will watch the film together and compare notes. When it gets to this point and everyone likes the player, the head coach is brought in and decisions are made by the group.
GH: If an athlete has never visited Delaware before how do you relate the excitement of playing at Delaware?
Coach Wrobo: One way is with video. Highlight films are an important piece to our puzzle because we get a chance to show our great game day atmosphere. During the season we send out invitations to athletes from all over our recruiting area and invite high school players and their coaches to have an unofficial visit and take in this game-day atmosphere. You probably see them on the sidelines before the games. Also, if a high school player has an interest in Delaware they do not have to wait for an invitation. They can simply call the football office and we are happy to have them.
"Highlight films are an important piece to our puzzle because we get a chance to show our great game day atmosphere."
GH: What is the process that you follow when it comes to visiting high schools of potential recruits?
Coach Wrobo: Per NCAA rules, we are allowed an evaluation in the spring and fall but we can not have any in-person contact with the athlete. During these visits we can talk to coaches and academic advisor to learn more about the athletes. Then shortly after Thanksgiving, we are allowed to make contact with the prospective student-athletes. We want to learn as much as we can and also we want to start a good relationship with the athlete.
GH: When do you get to visit them at their homes?
Coach Wrobo: Home visits take place during the contact period which occurs in December and January.
GH: What percentage of kids that give a verbal commitment back out if they get an offer they like better?
Coach Wrobo: We like to think that Delaware is always their best option. However, there are many types of people and schools throughout the country. The prospective student-athlete must be comfortable in all facets of the University. A small percentage back-out of a verbal commitment. Probably less than 10%. It is not rampant in our experience but it does happen.
"The prospective student-athlete must be comfortable in all facets of the University. A small percentage back-out of a verbal commitment. Probably less than 10%."
GH: Do you continue to recruit even after you have hit your limit for verbal commitments?
Coach Wrobo: Yes, we do. Recruiting is a year-round task for us. Equations change constantly. We may have a plan early in the recruiting process as to how many players we need at certain positions and then, toward the end of the process, those number could change due to any number of roster changes. This is not always a negative. Sure, sometimes we may have an opening because a kid may leave the team but other times we may decide to offer a scholarship to someone who came as a walk-on and has worked his way into it. Therefore, we need to be constant with our recruiting efforts. Things are always changing.
GH: Over the years we have seen that players that start their career as walk-ons have become keys to the success of the team. Is there a certain maximum number of preferred walk-ons that you offer each year?
Coach Wrobo: Not exactly. We are limited in numbers as set forth by the University. Therefore, in managing our roster, we must adhere to those limitations. There is not an exact roster number that is the same for all colleges. Roster size is based on the number of male versus female athletes at a university. Some small New England Universities have a roster limit of 75. Schools like Army and Navy might have a roster size up as high as 125 or even 150. Here, at Delaware, we usually fall into a roster allowance of 85 to 105 tops.
GH: Can you tell us the particulars of what happens when a kid make his official visit?
Coach Wrobo: According to NCAA regulations a paid official visit can last no longer than 48 hours. During that time we want the prospective student-athlete to experience the University of Delaware on all levels. They will get an inside look into the entire campus. Classrooms, athletic facilities, the entire campus. They might be allowed to attend a football meeting. They might attend a basketball game. They usually will spend some time with their position coach. They also get to have some time with our players. We usually try to team up a recruit with a player that he might have something in common with. Maybe they are from the same state. Maybe they play the same position. Sometimes, however, it could come down to availability.
"we want the prospective student-athlete to experience the University of Delaware on all levels. They will get an inside look into the entire campus. Classrooms, athletic facilities, the entire campus. "
GH: Coach, thanks for spending some time with GoHens and please thank all the coaches for all of their hard work.