Northeast LB caught in the middle of old-school vs. new-school recruiting tactics

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Sat. January 12, 2013 | Rodney Page | Email

Northeast LB caught in the middle of old-school vs. new-school recruiting tactics

Mention recruiting to the casual college football fan and it likely conjures up images of a student-athlete deciding which Division-I school’s hat to pick as cameras roll. While there are a select few who get their 15 minutes of fame before enrolling in college, there are many more like Northeast’s Auggie Sanchez.

A standout linebacker for the Vikings the past two seasons, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Sanchez has flown under the radar of most major colleges.

He has quickness, as his 20-plus sacks over two seasons proves. He has toughness, as his team-high 160 tackles his senior season indicates. And perhaps most importantly, he has the grades, as in a 4.0 cumulative GPA.

What Sanchez doesn’t have less than a month from national signing day is a firm offer from a big school.

“I’d like to get it done,’’ Sanchez said. “This has been a little frustrating to me.’’

Sanchez is learning that times are changing when it comes to recruiting. The most important marketing tool for a player? Sanchez believes it’s game film. He saw it work for his older brother, Armando, who also played at Northeast and wound up at USF.

But summer camps and combines have become equally — if not more — crucial. While mononucleosis may have kept him away this past summer, Sanchez said he wouldn’t have gone even if healthy.

“You have to go to camps,’’ said Sanchez, who is listed as a two-star recruit by Rivals and Scout.com. “Camps are what really help you. But I’m not a camp guy. I think there’s more to football than seeing how a guy plays in a pair of basketball shorts and a tight T-shirt.

“My film speaks for itself, but because I didn’t go to camps they don’t have the intangibles next to my name. I think film says it all.’’

So Sanchez has had to sell himself the old-fashioned way. And it’s not as if he doesn’t have any interest. Middle Tennessee State and South Alabama have offered. Sanchez has an official visit — but no offer yet — set up for USF on Friday.

“Because Auggie didn’t do any combines or any camps, recruiting has been a little bit different for him,’’ Northeast coach Mike Jalazo said. “But he has offers. We’re trying to make sure Auggie gets to where he wants to go.

“Camps have become big. That’s where recruiting has changed over the years. If you don’t go to camps, then schools wonder if you really want to go there.’’

Sanchez also has reached out to Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford, who was the defensive coordinator at Northeast when Armando was a player.

Like Sanchez, Crawford is a firm believer in game film.

“Different coaches have different philosophies,’’ Crawford said. “We don’t promote combines and camps. We promote game film and early contact. That’s how I’ve always done it.

“Will I have to change in the near future? I don’t know. As of right now, we do everything off of playing football. It’s a blue print that works for me.’’

Crawford has sent film of Sanchez to as many coaches as possible, hoping to drum up more interest.

“You’ve got to send (game film) out like they’re free samples from Chick-fil-A,’’ Crawford said.

For now, the word Sanchez hears most is “patience.’’

Crawford and Jalazo have seen players stress out through January, only to land on their feet on signing day. Both are sure Sanchez will find a suitable school soon.

“Every weekend from here until signing day, things are going to change dramatically in recruiting,’’ Crawford said. “Right now everyone is recruiting the top 20 offensive tackles in the U.S. After this weekend, five to 10 of those guys will be committed. The guys who didn’t get those players will have to go back to the boards. Everything will change weekly until signing day.’’

Added Jalazo: “At the end of the day, he’s going to be fine.’’

Until that day, Sanchez will wait — albeit impatiently. He has no regrets about how he went about getting recruited, he just hopes to find the perfect fit.

“I’d like to go to a BCS program,’’ he said. “Maybe that’s just me being greedy, but I don’t know. Academics is important but I want to go somewhere where I can play football. I don’t want to go somewhere for four years where I’ll be miserable.

“I try to be as patient as I can. Sometimes I get frustrated, but there’s nothing I can do right now.’’

Highlights on Hudl
Watch highlights of Auggie Sanchez here.

Rodney Page can be reached at page@tampabay.com.

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