No coach recruited the Atlanta area with such a flashy style as Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
Frankin invaded the city’s fertile grounds in a helicopter, catching two metro high school football games overloaded with college prospects in one night – with the help of air transport.
When we talked to Vanderbilt’s coach about “helicopter recruiting,” he acted like it was no big deal.
“For us, it was more about trying to get as much work done in a limited amount of time,” Franklin told the AJC. “I’ve done this at other schools I’ve coached at. For us to go to two high-profile games in the Atlanta area with traffic and things like that, it makes it difficult to do. So the helicopter afforded us the opportunity to go ahead and do that.”
We couldn’t agree more with Franklin about Atlanta traffic: It sucks. But playing down “helicopter recruiting” as if it’s another day at the office … that’s funny. Somehow, many other SEC head coaches recruited the city very well this past year, appearing at two games in a single night, and they didn’t need a helicopter pilot. In fact, we haven’t seen “helicopter recruiting” in the city since then-Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin in 2009.
More from Franklin: “I was able to see one half of a high-profile game, and I was able to see another half somewhere else. Without a helicopter, it’s hard to do something like that. That was the main reason for us to do that. It was for me to be able to maximize my time and see as many prospects as I could possibly could.”
What do we think of “helicopter recruiting?” We love it. Props for Vanderbilt for the recruiting tactic. We talked to some of the blue-chippers who played in those two games that Franklin flew in for. There were other SEC and ACC schools represented at the games. Who were the kids talking about? That coach from Vandy in the helicopter. It worked.
A lot of things worked well with recruiting for Franklin this past season. He finished with the “best recruiting class” in Vanderbilt history, according to si.com’s Andy Staples. Vanderbilt’s highly-regarded class had 22 members, including five from Georgia. The haul would’ve been more spectacular had two commitments from Vanderbilt not flipped at the last minute – Tucker DE Josh Dawson to UGA and Henry County DB Chris Moody to South Carolina.
Memo to the state of Georgia: Vanderbilt will be back for 2013 kids, and here’s the message:
“It’s just the same thing we’ve been selling since we arrived on campus: There’s no other program or university that can offer the combination of things that Vanderbilt can offer – that’s a world-class education, it’s a degree that’s going to set you up for the next 50 years of your life,” Franklin said. “We play in the greatest football conference in America, and that’s the SEC. It’s in a great town and great city. And the fourth factor, we’re still in a position in this next recruiting class where we can offer early playing time. Everybody knows in the past that that’s been a Vanderbilt issue – not enough depth. We have some good players; we just need more of them.
“So with the combination of those things, we feel like we can recruit with the best.”
Vanderbilt is off to a stunning start for next year in Atlanta with the recent commitment of Cedar Grove High School QB Johnathan McCrary, the junior who picked the Commodores over UGA and Alabama, among others. And, yes, Grayson’s DE Robert Nkemdiche, told the AJC that he’s planning to visit Vanderbilt on March 24.
SINCE YOU LAST LEFT YOUR DESKTOP …
IT’S NEVER BORING IN THE WACKY WORLD OF RECRUITING
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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