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February 6, 2014

Stockstill pleased with class; credits staff

Signing Day 2014 is officially in the books. For the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, the day was about as successful as it could have been, but the seeds to success were planted long ago.

It all started when the Blue Raider coaching staff got a shot in the arm as offensive line coaches Geep Wade and Mike Polly joined the staff at the end of last season.

Both coaches were held in high regard for their recruiting prowess and ability to close the deal, and both showed how they got those reputations right off the bat, hitting the recruiting trail with a certain tenacity that was a breath of fresh air for the Blue Raider program.

Head coach Rick Stockstill had high praises for these two, in addition to his entire staff, on Signing Day.

"First of all , I thought our entire staff did a great job. I thought everybody worked their tail off and were relentless in everything they did, so I don't want to take attention away from people," Stockstill said during Tuesday's Signing Day press conference. "I thought Geep and Mike did an outstanding job. They both love recruiting, and I've always said that to be a good recruiter, you have to love it, you have to make it personal, you have to take a genuine and sincere interest in that kid."

Stockstill noted that Wade and Polly both possess a lot of the qualities that are absolutely necessary if you want to be a top-notch recruiter in the college ranks.

"You've got to be able to look under every rock, every tape recorder, everything there is," Stockstill noted. "You've got to get to know everybody that's got a hand on that family, because there's one person out there that you may not know that's going to pull the trigger, so you've got to make sure you're very diligent and relentless in everything that you do and both Mike and Geep did a phenomenal job recruiting this year. They both worked very hard and were conscience about it."

For the first time in Stockstill's tenure, the Blue Raiders got on the board with commits early and often, securing most of their class well before National Signing Day. Whereas in year's past, MT would come in to Signing Day with a dozen or so "what if" scenarios, those were few and far between this year, as MT really only had between four and five question marks entering Tuesday's festivities.

In his mind, Stockstill attributes the success they had early in the process to a slew of things, beginning with the belief that high school prospects are more inclined to end their recruitments earlier now than before.

"I think the trend now is getting more and more that guys are committing earlier and they're making decisions earlier, so that's part of it," Stockstill said.

Stockstill credited his staff, once again, with detecting and recognizing which prospects on the big board possessed legitimate FBS talent early on in the process.

"I thought we did a great job of identifying guys in the summer," Stockstill said. "We had a lot of guys on campus for camps and we had a lot of guys come through here on unofficial visits, so I thought our guys did a great job of identifying guys earlier." Additionally, Stockstill said that knowing where the staff needed the most help aided in identifying junior college prospects that could help right away, which led to them getting a beat on the competition.

"We knew pretty early in this deal that we needed to sign, or wanted to sign, a couple of junior college linebackers, a couple of junior college safety/nickel type guys and couple of offensive linemen, so we did a really good job of getting tape and evaluations on our junior college guys at an earlier [time] in the process than we had before," Stockstill said.

Add all those things up, and you have the makings of a successful recruiting class.

And do not get it twisted, this was exactly the type of class that Stockstill and company needed. No, it was not the sexiest class in terms of positions and playmakers, but it addressed the needs of the unit, and helped solidify the Blue Raiders depth chart.

Another aspect of the 2014 recruiting season that fans found to be different from years past was the staffs willingness, and forceful, use of social media - particularly Twitter.

As most know, coaches are forbidden from talking about recruits directly during the recruiting season, and the NCAA has cracked down on the number of phone calls and text messages that a coach can have with a recruit.

However, there are loopholes in the system, and Twitter is the biggest of them all. Coaches can be as subliminal as they want, and in MT's case, they use social media to get the message out that they are building something here.

#BoltUp became a stable of the coaches Twitter accounts, and Stockstill acknowledges that the use of social media is only going to grow and become more prevalent, to the point where even the NCAA will step in and formulate some new guidelines for recruiting.

"I think it will only get bigger," Stockstill said in regards to social media use amongst college coaches. "I think you have to do it because your competition is doing it. Now, coaches are starting to push the envelope a little bit. I just think it's getting closer to that time where the NCAA is going to say 'these are the five rules that you've got to abide by and have at it with everything else.' But you've got to keep up with social media - and our coaches did a great job with all that stuff too - because your competition is."

Whatever the case may be, it became very clear from the early goings that the coaching staff had a specific plan for the 2014 recruiting class. Aside from a couple of late defections, things pretty much went according to plan for Rick Stockstill and company.

Up next for the staff, a much needed few days off I would imagine, but that will not last very long. They will be #BoltingUp again in no time at all, and GoMiddle.com will be there covering it every step of the way.



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