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Eight ways to communicate with recruits during a dead period

Coaches aren’t allowed to meet with recruits in person for the foreseeable future, so we’ve come up with some alternative ways to maintain relationships.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

“Obviously since we can’t see them face to face, we’ve gone way more on the FaceTime calls — and I don’t know if that’s good that they have to see our ugly grills way more often. Hopefully we don’t scare them away by doing that. It’s just constant communication. It’s pretty much business as usual, but we have a lot more free time on our hands, they have a lot more free time on their hands, so there is more communication. But we’re using the electronic means to keep the communication lines open and answering any questions they might have.”

— Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni on how Ohio State is maintaining relationships with recruits, despite the dead period (via Austin Ward of Lettermen Row)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA extended its dead period through May 31, restricting any in-person visits between college coaches and recruits for the foreseeable future. So, like the rest of the world, Pantoni and the rest of Ohio State’s recruiting staff are limited to virtual means to maintain their... “constant communication.”

As a life-long introvert, I cringed a little when I read the words constant communication, especially when its being done via FaceTime. If it were me, I’d just want a school to send me an emoji every other day so I know they haven’t forgotten about me.

I’m sure some, if not most, of those high school kids actually enjoy the attention and the face-to-face contact with their potential future coaches. But I have to imagine that some of them are on the same page as me, which is why I’ve created a list of eight ways for Ohio State to communicate with recruits that don’t involve face-to-face contact and would undoubtedly help them stand out from other programs during this indefinite recruiting dead period.

1. Handwritten letters

What 18-year-old doesn’t love a good old-fashioned handwritten letter? It’s practically the same thing as texting/Instagram DMs, right? Additionally, most of these kids likely won’t start at their respective positions right off the bat, and what better way to teach them the dying virtue of delayed gratification?

2. Playstation/Xbox

As Bud Elliott of 247Sports put it ever-so-matter-of-factly:

Playing video games online allows one school to hold the attention of a recruit for a defined amount of time (however long the game lasts) and the recruit and school staffer can chat using headsets in a relaxed, but competitive setting.

In fact, many schools are already doing this in their own creative ways, as shown by Texas A&M’s Gamer Tourney, which matches recruits against staffers, coaches, and even other commits.

3. Send a fruit basket

Not just any fruit basket! Send one with muffins, candy, assortment of cheeses. Actually, the less fruit the better. A fruit basket says “We’re thinking of you” and “This is just a glimpse of the king-like lifestyle you will lead at THE Ohio State University.”

(Not sure if this is allowed per the NCAA, but if Saban can give his players each an Apple Watch, I think we’re fine.)

4. Fly an airplane banner over their house

Fruit baskets and postcards might not be enough for the highly-touted five stars. Now is the time to think big. Enter: Airplane banner. Ohio State football has their own private plane, so why not fly it over their house with a message hanging on the back that reads “Just thinking of you, *insert recruit’s name here* — Go Bucks!” or “Hi *recruit’s name*, check your front porch!” They open their door and boom— a gigantic scarlet and gray fruit basket.

5. Send a heart-shaped pizza

Just based on my years of thorough research of rom-coms, its a proven fact that heart-shaped pizzas always win a person over. However, since this is very obviously not a rom-com, I recommend a Block O-shaped pizza instead. Or get it shaped into the recruit wearing an Ohio State jersey. I don’t know what pizza places are talented enough to do this, but I imagine Pantoni probably knows a guy.

6. Share your Spotify playlist with them

Whatever the kids are listening to nowadays — include it. This is an easy and surefire way to show that the staff at Ohio State is with it and that they are hip. I’m talking artists like Lil Pump, Post Malone, Roddy Ricch who, according to Google, are “cool artists.”

This also gives you an opportunity to be strategic. Throw in “Carmen Ohio” and “Hang On Sloopy.” They may hit next almost immediately, but the first few lines — and thus the spirit of the Ohio State Buckeyes — will live on in their subconscious.

7. Email

This might be a boring one, but emailing is the the No. 1 form of communication in a professional setting. Whether it be professors, a job interview, a future boss— soon they will be made of 60% water and 40% emails.

Emailing is also the perfect happy medium between FaceTime/texting and hand written letters. Unlike FaceTimeing and texting, an email response can be a little more delayed, but not as delayed as mailing a note.

8. Invite them to edit a Google Doc.

Put whatever you want in it — a letter, a quiz, a picture of you and your family on vacation, a haiku. Just please... anything but another FaceTime call or Zoom meeting.