Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel knows all about the billboard placed along I-85 in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County.
It says “Proud To Be SEC: Mizzou.” Missouri is a first-year member of the SEC, and will have its conference opener against UGA on Sept. 8.
“Oh yes, I get text messages and emails from Mizzou people that live in that area and that region,” Pinkel told the AJC. “They talk about it and say how excited they are to see it.”
There are 16 billboards, including eight that have been placed out of state. There are three in Georgia, including two in Atlanta and one near Valdosta, while one each in Tampa, Fla., Dallas, Birmingham, Ala., Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis. What was the idea behind the billboards?
“It’s to market Missouri,” Pinkel said. “We’ll be in Georgia recruiting. We’ve got great respect for the high school football in Georgia, especially in the Atlanta area. We’re just marketing our brand name a little bit. We’re going to get there and actively recruit … and we’re excited about it.”
From a recruiting standpoint, it was brilliant placement strategy, as Gwinnett is the home to many high school football powerhouses and is a big-time manufacturer of college football talent.
Missouri is actively recruiting Georgia this year and has made early football scholarship offers to 13 rising seniors from this state, according to Rivals.
“We’ve done a complete analysis of players that sign with BCS schools out of Georgia, and certainly out of the Atlanta area,” Pinkel said. “The size and production of SEC and BCS is parallel to the Metroplex area in Dallas. The numbers out of Atlanta and Dallas are nearly identical. Both have great high school football.
“What you do is go down there and figure out how many players from Georgia stay in the SEC and stay in the ACC, and how many leave the state and go elsewhere to play. We’ve got data on these kinds of things. And, if anything, it’s about identifying good players and selling Missouri.
“We want to go down there with a good reputation of winning football games and graduating our athletes. It’s about marketing and developing trust … and slowly and slowly working ourselves into Georgia. We’re excited about doing that.”
This year, Missouri has one assistant in charge of recruiting the entire state. As the Tigers continue to make the SEC transition, they plan to eventually have two or more scouring the territory, focusing primarily in the Atlanta area and making some rounds in South Georgia.
What is Pinkel’s sales pitch to Georgia’s prospects?
“The facts are, in the last six years, we’re eighth in the BCS with winning in the nation. Those are facts. We’re certainly one of six teams that have won eight or more games in the last seven years. So we win at Missouri, and we consistently win. Over the last six years, we’ve graduated 96-percent of our players. Missouri is a great place and it’s a great college town with 33,000 students. Kids love to go to school here. We’ve got a lot to sell.”
HOT OFF THE PRESSES …
AJC’S INSTANT RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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