Derek Dooley isn’t opposed to change. He just doesn’t want too much of it.
The Tennessee head football coach is well aware of the ongoing chatter in the recruiting community concerning possible adjustments to rules between coaches and prospects during the spring semester.
Currently, contact is limited. Head coaches can’t travel to recruit during the spring evaluation period and coaches can’t initiate phone contact with prospects.
To Dooley, the rules are a bit outdated.
“The ability to communicate today is so different than it was 15 years ago when the rules were structured,” he said.
Moreover, recruiting continues to move forward at a dramatic rate. Prospects once waited until the fall semester of their senior years to take trips to prospective schools. Then, trips to summer camps became more en vogue. Now, spring trips are a regular occurrence.
“The spring of the junior year is an incredibly important time for institutions and prospects to start thinking of where I want to go,” Dooley said. “Unless they come on campus, I have no ability to meet them, talk to them. You’re always trying to get them to call you. It’s a very difficult process.”
Dooley, however, doesn’t want the rules to revert back to the days when his father, Vince Dooley, was coaching at Georgia. Comparatively, contact was barely limited at all until the NCAA instituted more strict rules on coaches.
That led to coaches being on the road most of the off-season, which meant Dooley knows all too well what it’s like to have an absentee father. He doesn’t want to repeat that with his family.
“The calendar is pretty good for coaches with their families and balance,” Derek Dooley said. “I don’t want it to go back to how it was when my dad was recruiting.”
Dooley also understands that more contact means more intrusion on a young person’s life. However, he also sees the benefit of becoming more acquainted with a prospect to whom he’s extending a scholarship offer.
Dooley didn’t speak of specifics, but he admitted he’s been surprised plenty of times when a prospect shows up on campus. Often, that new player isn’t the prospect coaches hoped they knew in recruiting.
“It happens a lot,” Dooley said. “Some guys, you think are really introverted, they don’t say much. Then (you say) ‘Who is this guy?’ He’s talking. He’s dancing. He’s singing.”
Increased contact could specifically help Dooley, who has said he places a strong emphasis on character in recruiting.
“The better you know them,” Dooley said, “the less risk you have.”
Camping: Those interested in attending football camps at UT can call 865-974-1247 or log on to www.utsports.com/footballcamp.
The Vols will host an offensive and defensive lineman camp for high school students on June 5, a youth (ages 8-14) camp June 7-9 and a specialist camp June 10-11.
UT’s high school individual instruction camps will be held June 13-16 and July 20-22.