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Saturday, December 9, 2023


Recruiting during a pandemic: COVID-19 presents UH football with new approach to finding talent

UH head coach Dana Holgorsen looking over his team during last season's training camp practice. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

UH head coach Dana Holgorsen looking over his team during last season’s training camp practice. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Typically, college football programs send staff members to high schools across the country to go watch certain kids play and personally meet them, but that was not a possibility this year given the pandemic and the UH football team has had to adapt and take a new approach to how they recruit.

“For years it’s been like I don’t want to sign these guys until I get to know them,” head football coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday evening during his weekly radio show. “Well you better get over that. You’re going to end up signing some guys that you’ve never actually met in person.”

Because they are not able to meet with potential recruits face-to-face, the Cougars have conducted recruitments using virtual platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime.

While meeting with recruits virtually does not provide coaches with the same experience they get from meeting an athlete in person, it definitely makes the process a little easier on the football staff because of its convenience.

“From a recruiting perspective it’s actually been kind of convenient,” Holgorsen said. “Virtual stuff I think is going to stick around. I think you’re going to end up having more Zoom meetings.”

Holgorsen specifically emphasized focusing on using this time to recruit athletes from within the greater Houston area because of how much talent there is across the city.

“There’s never been a better time to stay here in Houston,” Holgorsen said. “This city is full of the best high school talent in the country, so they’re here and we know they’re here. It’s never been a better time to stay at the University of Houston.”

Holgorsen talked about how this pandemic could encourage more athletes from the city of Houston, which statistically has produced the most NFL players in the league (24 active), to stay and play for the Cougars.

Holgorsen and his staff are hoping that some of the city’s top-ranked athletes will see that it can be easier and convenient for both them and their families if they stay in Houston for college, especially as the world recovers from the pandemic.

“The University is going to come out of COVID in a better place than it was when it went into (the pandemic), simply because we got six million people in this city and it’s going to be easier to stay here because you don’t have to travel as much,” Holgorsen said. “You don’t have to spend money flying to specific universities. It just makes things easier for everybody.”

But no matter which recruits end up signing with UH, Holgorsen is confident that the program is moving in the right direction and will continue to do so in the years to come.

“At the end of the day, I think our football program is going to continue to elevate and I think the University of Houston is going to continue to elevate,” he said.

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here

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