Feb. 2, 2003
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) -
When Joe Glenn took over as the new head football coach at the University of Wyoming in mid-December, there was one big issue that needed to be addressed immediately - how was he and his staff going to fill UW's 25 available scholarships and salvage the current recruit-ing season?
"Basically, what we had to do was condense six months work into 7 1/2 weeks," Cowboy recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Ron Wisniewski said this week. "We spent 18 hours a day every day watching film and evaluating talent."
In addition, Wyoming's active recruiting period of contacting prospective recruits and setting up campus visitations had been reduced from the usual six weeks to three weeks.
Even though Glenn and his staff had been actively recruiting at Montana, it was an entirely different situation. It had nothing to do with the quality of the prospects being recruited, but the numbers involved. While Wyoming had 25 scholarships to fill, Montana had only eight.
"We didn't have very many players graduate this year at Montana so we weren't looking to fill a lot of spots," Wisniewski said. "In fact, there were several posi-tions, like quarterback, tight end and linebacker, where we weren't actively recruiting at all. Then we get to Wyoming and boom, there are only four linebackers on board. That was a challenge.
"As far as the kids we were recruiting at Montana, we decid-ed ethically that we would not recruit any player to Wyoming that we had already committed. We then sat down as a group and had to make a determination if the kids we were recruiting and had not already committed would help us at Wyoming.
"We decided that most of them would because we weren't recruiting against other Division I-AA schools. The schools we heard most often were Boise State, Wyoming Idaho and Utah State. Those were the caliber of kids we were recruiting at Montana."
Even though former Cowboys coach Vic Koenning and his staff left all their recruiting reports and tapes intact, they had to be reviewed and evaluated by the new staff. When the recruiting game plan was finally formulated, new prospects had to be contacted and visitations lined up.
Wisniewski said Wyoming is taking a direct and honest approach with recruits in selling the school and the new Cowboy program under Glenn.
"We let them know that they will be getting in on the ground floor of something special," Wisniewski said. "This is a special state with only one four-year school. The people support this program and they love the game of football. We also show them the facilities we have and the plans for the future. The RAC (Rochelle Athletics Center) is as good as there is, and they get to see that our weight room and academic facilities are as good as anyone in the MWC.
"We also stress the academic end. Since there is no other four-year school in the state, Wyoming has virtually every program they would want to study. It is a very strong academic school. And then we also try to sell them on our staff."
NCAA rules do not allow coaches or school officials to comment about recruits, but through various newspaper and Internet reports, it has been learned that Wyoming already has junior college linebacker Randy Tscharner from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Community College enrolled at UW for the spring semester.
Also, the Cowboys have received 16 verbal commitments from high school seniors.
It has also been reported on the Internet that Wyoming has lost two of its verbal commitments - Mark Mullaney, a linebacker from Eden Prairie, Minn., and Isaiah Crawford, a running back from Vista, Calif. - to other schools. Mullaney reportedly will now go to Minnesota and Crawford to Colorado. The Cowboys have also lost a couple of potential prospects that decided on other schools.
"This is the nature of the beast when it comes to recruiting," Wisniewski said, when it comes to players choosing one school over another.
"You never know for sure what's going on in an individual's mind," he said. "Each kid has his own idea of what is the perfect situation for him and what isn't. If he is looking for a smaller community and likes to fish, hunt and snowmobile, then Wyoming is an ideal fit. But if a kid is looking for a big city and 100 different nightclubs, then he wouldn't want to be here. Sometimes, it just comes down to having a good visit.
"A lot of times you are dealing with kids coming out of high school who are looking for the best deal. They may have aspirations of playing in one of the elite conferences like the Big 12, Big Ten or PAC-10. When they don't get an offer there, they commit to other schools as the recruiting process moves along. Then suddenly those schools from the powerhouse conferences lose a couple of recruits, and they go to the next guys on their list. They then jump back in on a kid who may have committed to another school, and you find yourself in a fight to keep him. College recruiting is a very competitive process, and this is something you come to expect in this business.
"This year we ended up having a couple of kids choose other schools simply because those schools had been recruiting them since last spring. It makes it a little tough when you first contact a kid in mid-December and some other school has been recruiting him since last May. He might choose to listen to you, but he pretty much has his mind already made up."
Even though Wyoming got a late start and Glenn and his staff have had to live through the ebbs and flows of the recruiting process, Wisniewski said they are genuinely pleased with the results to date.
"We feel, and I know Joe feels, real strong about the kids we have committed so far," Wisniewski said. "We have left a lot of recruiting film on the floor and turned away a lot more kids than we have offered. We have studied the tape and feel real good about what we have so far."
Wisniewski said Wyoming would bring in 11 or 12 more recruits this weekend in an effort to fill out the current recruiting class.
"We would feel real good if we can fill our quota, but we won't make an offer for the sake of filling our scholarships," Wisniewski said. "It wouldn't be a bad situation if we have one or two left over because there are always some late qualifiers. You can find some outstanding players in May and June."