By Naji Tobias
CORAL GABLES – Mark Richt is making a nice impression in his short time as Miami’s new head coach.
The Boca Raton alum and native hosted the likes of his former high school team, Wellington, Vanguard, Taravella, and Coral Springs in his 7-on-7 Tournament today (June 11) at the University of Miami’s intramural fields.
Flanked by media members during the tournament and football camp – linemen also participated their own series of drills – Richt spoke at length about what he’s looking for in a potential college prospect.
“Talent per team is pretty high at our camp,” Richt said. “We have a criteria for every position. We look for speed and agility in our receivers, for example. If a guy doesn’t quite fit the criteria (height/weight), then he has to be a highly productive player on the field. We also look for guys who have growth potential.”
Richt likes to focus on a college prospect’s overall character. This can be the difference in whether or not a high school football player ends up with a Miami offer.
“We want to see if a player has the grades necessary to enroll here,” Richt said. “We want to know if the player loves the game of football. We’ll find out if he’s a good teammate or a selfish player. We want to learn everything we can about the player before we take a chance on him.”
A college prospect’s highlight tape plays a key role in Richt’s evaluation as well.
“We make sure our position coaches watch film,” Richt said. “If the player fits the mold based on his position, then we may offer him at some point.”
Richt cautions college prospects to be careful about what they post on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube).
“We’re watching”, Richt said. “We watch it very close. I let a guy go in the past who had committed to Georgia. He had stuff on his social media (Twitter) that we didn’t agree with. We gave him a chance to clean his act up, but he didn’t care about what we said to him about it. We moved on.”
On the flip side, Richt said he notices some positive things about college prospects through social media as well.
“You can also learn a lot of good things about them,” the Palm Beach County Hall of Famer said. “Young people want to make their lives public for some reason. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s bad.”
Richt said he relies on a host of personal sources to find out all he can about a college prospect.
“First you start with the player’s head coach”, Richt said. “Then you go to his position coach, the strength and condition coach, the team chaplain, the principal, the teachers, and the counselor. If you ask enough people to tell you what you want to know, then you’ll most likely get the information you need about him.”
For players who end up with a Miami offer, the evaluation even extends to both an unofficial visit and official visit.
“We’ll ask our current players about them,” Richt said. “We feel they will be more real with us than anyone. Sometimes they’ll say he’s not good for our program, and sometime they’ll say he’s an awesome fit for us. They’re checking us out, but we’re checking them out as well.”
Richt is a realist and a straight-laced guy who knows that no one is perfect, which means he’ll give players a chance to make it right.
“Guys makes mistakes,” Richt said. “No one’s an angel, and we’re dealing with 18-22 year olds who are growing into men. We hope they don’t make mistakes that are egregious, but if they do, we’ll do what we can to help them grow from it. If a player makes a mistake that’s too big for him to overcome at this university, then we will let him go.”
Richt said he practices fairness to every player he comes across.
“We try to let our players know we love them,” Richt said. “We want them to be great men, great fathers, and great citizens. The rules we have here are about football, but it’s also about motivating them as a whole.”
At the end of the day, Richt wants to see what a player possesses on the inside.
“You make good decisions based on what’s in your heart,” Richt said. “That’s what we’re trying to capture.”