Bobcat Football: 'Texas ties' not essential to Bobcats' recruiting class

ISHMAEL JOHNSON
Sports Editor

When head coach Everett Withers was hired, a big question was could he and his staff recruit the state of Texas?

When asked about his ties a year ago, Withers cited his relationship with Texas High School Coaches Association Executive Director and former Judson High School head coach, D.W. Rutledge, and of course he coached at Texas under Mack Brown from 1998 to 2000. But he spent nearly 15 years out of state and outside of Adrian Mayes (Former Rice and Houston assistant) and Ron Antoine (Native Texan), the Bobcat coaching staff is primarily east coast or Midwest based. The furthest south defensive coordinator Randall McCray had been prior to his arrival was Middle Tennessee State and for offensive coordinator Brett Elliott, Mississippi State was the closest he got to the Lone Star State before his hire. Ohio State only signed one native Texan defensive player in linebacker Mike Mitchell and his acquisition was credited to Luke Fickell.

It’s always a question when someone without strong Texan roots is hired for a head job in-state, if the person has “Texas ties”. It’s why Tim Brewster was a name that circled around Texas State before Dennis Franchione was hired back in 2011. Texas high school football is a notoriously close-knit fraternity, for better or worse. When Matt Rhule, an east coast native, took the Baylor job, how well the former Temple coach could ingratiate himself in the Texas high school football landscape was a mystery. Rhule took the safe route of hiring prominent high school coaches from around the state such as Cedar Ridge’s Shawn Bell, Cedar Hill’s Joey McGuire and San Antonio Reagan’s David Wetzel to his staff and put together one of the top classes in the Big 12 in little over a month’s time. Withers took another route by keeping most of his James Madison staff and it proved worth it as the Bobcats reeled in 22 in-state recruits and the best class in the Sun Belt according to numerous outlets.

“What it says is that we have a personable staff that doesn’t mind going out and meeting high school coaches and getting to know them,” Withers said during Wednesday’s National Signing Day press conference. “Recruiting’s about relationships and I don’t care if you’re from Cuero, Texas, if you’re not a guy that doesn’t want to have a relationship, people are not going to send you kids to your programs. You better get out and get to know the high school coaches and get around the high school coaches where they feel comfortable about sending their kids to your program.”

Texas State proved that there are more than one ways to recruit the state. Just up the road, Texas has a staff deep with Texas roots and had one of their lowest rated classes in recent history. 

Maybe Texan roots aren’t as critical on the recruiting trail as they’re said to be.

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