The Hurry-Up: Stan Drayton's High Interest in Leaving for NFL Illustrates Latest Example of Riskiness of Committing to Position Coaches Instead of the School Itself

By Zack Carpenter on January 15, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Stan Drayton
Stan Drayton

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Drayton to Dallas no more

For at least a couple days, it looked as if former Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton would be making a return to the NFL. 

Drayton, who coached with the Buckeyes from 2011-2014 and the Chicago Bears from 2015-16, was being courted by both the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys for their RB coach positions. 

He interviewed with the Cowboys, where he would have been reunited with Ezekiel Elliott, who became a star while working with Drayton in Columbus. However, on Wednesday, insider Ian Rapoport reported the Cowboys would be hiring Skip Peete to the position and that Drayton is most likely returning to his position as the Texas Longhorns' running backs coach.

It briefly got a bit shaky for Tom Herman, who looked like he would be losing both of his newest star signee's top two recruiters in Drayton and Tim Beck, after Beck took the offensive coordinator position at NC State following his demotion at the same position for the Longhorns. 

Five-star running back Bijan Robinson chose Texas in part because of his relationship with Drayton, and he stayed loyal and steadfast despite rumors of Drayton leaving started coming out in December. By most accounts, Robinson did not sign with the Longhorns only because of Drayton. The coach obviously played a part, but Robinson was adamant that he was sold on Texas as a program, school and culture.

From a story by Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer:

"College football is better when Texas is good," Robinson says. "Trying to get them back to the top is my mindset. I mean, I could go to Ohio State or LSU or a team that's already enjoying great success. But getting Texas back to where it needs to be is what my focus is.

It looks like Drayton will almost certainly be returning to Texas, but the fact that it was a real possibility for him to leave illustrates, for the seemingly millionth time, how fickle spots as position coaches are and how risky it is for a recruit to commit to an assistant coach than to the program itself.

Position coaches at just about every school in the country is like a merry-go-round as guys leave for better jobs or get fired. Despite that, position coaches are often the person who recruits have the vast majority of conversations with at a respective school – though Ohio State seems to be approaching recruiting with an all hands on deck tactic.

I always love hearing the perspective of some of these young recruits on the potential for position coaches to leave – like when I asked Sam Hart, an eventual Buckeye tight end commit, what he thought about the rumors of his top two recruiters, Tony Alford and Kevin Wilson, potentially leaving for a head coaching position. 

“(Those relationships are) still a big part (in my recruitment),” Hart told Eleven Warriors on Monday, two days after his visit to Columbus for the Penn State game. “Coach Alford and coach Wilson have been a huge part, and I really like them. They’ve been my favorite coaches to talk to, and they’ve shown a lot of interest. But I understand that (they could make a change). I had two older brothers that played Division I football, and my dad played Division I football.”

Hart’s father was a center at Minnesota, his oldest brother was a tight end for the Golden Gophers, and his middle brother currently plays middle linebacker at New Mexico. 

“(Relationships with coaches) is a pretty big part, but I understand things can change super quick and coaches leave a lot for new jobs that are available,” Hart said. “I know that with Ohio State, I really like coach Alford and coach Wilson. They’ve been really great to me. But I know it’s a great program, and they’ll get great coaches either way if they do leave.”

Last week, I asked 2021 offensive line target Jager Burton a similar question. There are no rumors of offensive line coach Greg Studrawa leaving, and it sounds like he will be at Ohio State for a while.

But what if something very unforeseen happens and Studrawa ends up taking another job? Would that have any effect on Burton?

“I would never pick a school solely off of coaches,” Burton told Eleven Warriors. “They’re gonna go do what’s best for them and what’s best for them and their family, and I’m gonna do what’s best for me and my family with where I go to school at. You saw a few weeks ago when Coach (Sam) Pittman left Georgia. He was doing what’s best for him. Obviously a head coaching job’s an awesome opportunity, and he took it. I’m sure if anyone was to ask him – and I’ve never met him, I’m just saying scenario-wise, but everyone’s gonna do what’s best for them coaching-wise and even being recruited for other jobs.

“In recruiting, it’s like a selfish process, almost, with you and your circle, if that makes sense. You’re doing what’s best for you and the people that mean a lot to you, and the coaches are the same way. So I understand. I don’t think Coach Stud’s gonna go anywhere, either, but if he got an awesome job opportunity in the NFL or a head coaching job somewhere, I’d be really happy for him and his family. That’s why you just have to pick off a place, other coaches around, and just the environment around the place, instead of just one coach.”

More on Spindler

On Monday, I wrote about Ohio State offensive line target Rocco Spindler and his love for Notre Dame as the Irish look to build a special O-line class of its own.

Here’s more on why Spindler is such a high-end target for both Notre Dame and Ohio State, from 247Sports’ Tim Prister, who sees Spindler as a nasty interior offensive lineman instead of an offensive tackle:

While Spindler could be used in space, his best assets shine through when he’s between the ends on defense, which translates to offensive guard for me. You want this beastly brawler on the inside as much as possible where he’s changing the point of attack, and thus, the path of running backs. His physical makeup (he’s probably not 6-foot-5) and style of play make him a prototypical interior lineman, although he could play right tackle.

Christman, Hall continue building relationship

Just a small nugget here on a guy who’s already committed to the Buckeyes and one who may soon.

Four-star offensive tackle Ben Christman has emerged as a high-level recruit-recruiting-recruits. He’s been pretty relentless over the last month and a half. He’s been leading the charge for the 2021 commits, and that was true again this past week with four-star defensive lineman Mike Hall

The Buckeyes are the favorites to land the in-state Hall, who told Eleven Warriors his plan is to commit on his 17th birthday, June 13, despite feeling tempted to during an unofficial visit for the Penn State game in November.

“It definitely was hard to not commit, but I don’t know, I talked to my mom and my siblings about it. They were just saying weigh your options,” Hall told Eleven Warriors in November. “You never know what you’ll see. Ohio State’s still my No. 1 though.”

Hall says his relationships with the Ohio State coaches are strong, and the feeling he got from the supportive fans helped make the Buckeyes stand out.

“My mom was just telling me to go somewhere where you’re really appreciated and the people are supporting you,” Hall said.  And that even if you’re not successful in football, you have something to rely on and go somewhere that will get you to the next level, regardless if it’s on or off the field. That’s what Ohio State can do for me – even if it’s off the field.”

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