Internet has made recruiting less personal, more number oriented - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Internet has made recruiting less personal, more number oriented

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Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 7:00 am | Updated: 3:36 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

The Internet has made the world an easier place, but not all of it has been for the good.

Especially when it comes to giving something a personal touch.

Birthday invitations come via Evite, long hand-written letters have become forwarded lame jokes, and knowledgeable college recruiters have become dependent on ranking lists plastered all over websites.

The latter is the one that comes into focus Wednesday as high school football players across the nation sign letters of intent.

The Internet has turned high school recruiting into big business with every 40-yard time being posted on recruiting sites. They end up being dissected on message boards, while sites like scout.com, MaxPreps.com, rivals.com, and others rank everything from the top 100 national recruits to the best incoming 14-year-old freshman offensive lineman.

Some feel the big-time programs have become too reliant on other people's opinions. Schools that recruit nationally, like Alabama, LSU, Southern Cal and Texas, don't even sniff a two-star recruit (out of five) and rarely look at three stars.

"I believe recruiting was more thorough in the 1960s, '70s and '80s," said Desert Vista assistant Andy Arredondo, whose son, Mike, went through the process this year. "I believe the smaller schools do a better job than the larger schools today. The larger schools' recruiters are more dependent on recruiting websites, to decide who the 3-, 4-, 5-star players are.

"Larger schools offer kids on combine results, star ratings, etc., without even seeing players in person."

It often leaves quality players who might be an inch or two short, or a step slow, according to recruiting services unseen and off the list by top programs.

Some will find their way to a lesser program anyway, while others settle for a junior college or end up attending the college of their choice academically without ever putting on a helmet again.

In the case of the younger Arredondo, he found a home at Northern Arizona originally, but a late call from New Mexico forced him to change his mind and pick the Lobos.

Did the 6-foot-2, 218-pound middle linebacker have higher hopes when the process began? Sure, but the slight - perceived or not - will just be another driving force for an already motivated athlete.

"I told my parents that I am going to do whatever I do wherever I go," he said. "I'm excited."

Arredondo is one of a handful of local football players expected to sign on the dotted line today or in the days to come.

Teammate and fellow Thunder captain, J.J. Dielman, is heading to Utah as he committed to the team that first offered him in the spring. The 6-5, 260-pound tackle had at least five offers and he was comfortable with heading to the Pac-12 program.

Defensive back Matt Smith, who missed the end of the season with a broken leg, committed to Cornell.

Long snapper Ryan Masel has preferred walk-on status at Washington, while placer kicker Scott Goldfein has a partial athletic scholarship to Azusa Pacific. Running back Dominic Kereluk is off to Colorado Pueblo and punter Eric Camarillo has preferred walk-on status at Utah.

Desert Vista graduate Cody Sokol, who had a record-breaking season at quarterback for Scottsdale Community College, is heading to Iowa.

Mountain Pointe's lot of players heading off to college next fall is led by 5-8, 158-pound running back Dillan Johnson, who was leaning toward Division II Dixie State College, although he was visiting Cal Lutheran and University of Redlands last week.

"He was the best player we had," Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. "He could be a star (at Division II). He could play at Division I, but they look at his size."

The Pride will have several others sign, with linebacker Jordan Leal getting late interest from South Dakota State.

Defensive linemen Dee Harvey has an offer from Western New Mexico, while defensive back Luis Sharpe and linemen Byrce Hurd, RJ Hollis and Raynon Blackshire head to local junior colleges. Linebacker A.J. Williamson had knee surgery after the season and might have to sit out a year before catching on with a JUCO.

The next couple of years should produce higher profile signings as junior linemen Kenny Lacy (Arizona, Oregon State, Purdue) and sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Jalen Brown (Arizona, Arizona State, Yale) have offers already.

Regardless of who signs where, the process has long been changed and it isn't clear whether or not it is for the better.

"There are a lot of kids, like a Joey Counts (of Desert Ridge) or others, who might be couple inches too short or a step slower than a 3-star guy," the elder Arredondo said. "They just keep producing on the field. I would take (him) in a minute."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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