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Schools get creative in trying to attract top recruits

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Mon. January 28, 2013 | Matt Baker | Email

As colleges across the country bombard the same top high school football prospects with letters and offers, some schools have learned to think outside the box to grab the attention of coveted recruits. Here are some of the more interesting recruiting tactics we’ve come across in the past year:

Arizona sent this wanted poster to try to lure one of the country’s top running backs, St. Petersburg Catholic’s Ryan Green, to the Wildcats of the Wild, Wild West. It didn’t work. Green committed to Florida State.

Pictures of recruits wearing prospective college jerseys — with their old high school numbers, of course — is a weekend fixture of Twitter and Facebook. Pasco three-star senior Janarion Grant tried on his No. 29 jersey during his official visit to Houston this month.

Admiral Farragut junior Cortavious Givens landed these letters from Tennessee, Georgia, UF, UMass, Louisville and FSU on one day in November. Some schools blanket recruits in bulk — Freedom senior Nate Godwin once received a dozen letters from West Virginia in one day. Over the course of the year, the cost adds up. Springstead lineman Will Allen estimates he has a few thousand dollars worth of postage sitting in a big Rubbermaid tub at home.

Florida Atlantic has learned the quickest way to attract a teenage boy’s attention. In this case, it’s Givens whom the Owls are luring, with the help of their dance team.

Missouri combined two of the favorite pastimes for many recruits: football and video games. The Tigers sent personalized video game covers to Jesuit TE Travis Johnson (pictured) and Pasco four-star DL Joey Ivie as the SEC newcomer tries to tap into Tampa Bay.

This growing trend takes the (cookie) cake in creativity. FSU, Toledo, Clemson and Ohio State have all used cookie cakes to welcome recruits on recent official visits. NCAA bylaws (13.6.7.7, if you’re keeping track) allow for prospective student-athletes to receive three meals a day during a visit plus a “reasonable snack” — in this case, a delicious-looking dessert. Teams can decorate the treats with their logos and slogans, but NCAA rules prohibit them from personalizing the cakes with a recruit’s name or picture.

Sometimes the simple approach works, too. The one piece of mail Ivie wanted to frame was this official offer letter from UF coach Will Muschamp. Ivie enrolled early with the Gators this month.

Matt Baker can be reached @mbaker@tampabay.com or on Twitter .

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