The Hurry-Up: NCAA Extends Recruiting Dead Period Through July, Top Targets’ Decision Timelines Could Be Altered, Jeff Hafley Heating Up at Boston College

By Zack Carpenter on May 28, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Jager Burton

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.

Dead period extended

Each time the NCAA’s Division I Council Coordination Committee had met prior to Wednesday, the extension of the recruiting dead period was essentially a foregone conclusion. 

With pockets of the world starting to open up and schools like Ohio State set to welcome back players for voluntary workouts on June 8, however, there was at least a bit of optimism that the committee would elect to not extend the dead period this time around.

That optimism is now kaput, as the recruiting dead period was officially extended through July 31, and there is a lot of chatter that it will not be until September when visits are allowed to happen again.

The committee, which will not meet again for at least another month to determine whether another extension is needed, also announced that strength and conditioning coaches will be allowed to virtually monitor athletes’ voluntary workouts, beginning June 1, at the athletes’ request.

“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” NCAA Council chair and University of Pennsylvania athletic director M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement. “The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July.”

The fallout and effects of the dead period – which was put into effect on March 13, later extended through May 31 and extended again through June 30 – will eventually show themselves down the road even more than they already have. 

For Ohio State, as we’ve noted before, it lost out on a mega recruiting weekend that was supposed to take place June 12-14 and could have served as a monumental swing in its favor for a handful of high-profile targets. 

Going forward, decisions for players like Jager Burton and Hudson Wolfe are noteworthy ones that could be affected, as each is hoping to make a decision and have it off their plates before their senior seasons start. Burton has long said his plan is to take all five of his official visits before making a commitment, and Wolfe’s mother getting to Ohio State’s campus for a visit is an important factor in that recruitment. 

If Burton specifically looks to make a decision soon, I believe it benefits Ohio State’s main competition in his recruitment, Kentucky. The longer that recruitment goes, the more it benefits the Buckeyes.

Ohio State’s place in the pecking order with other key recruits, such as Emeka Egbuka and Derrick Davis Jr., could also be affected, but I'm of the belief that, if we see visits allowed again by September, those recruitments should go largely unaffected by the dead period extension. 

Both of those recruitments were expected to extend into the fall as is, and recent information I’ve gathered from those close to those recruitments indicates that, as of right now, it’s likely we won’t be hearing of a decision from Davis until at least October. Egbuka continues to weigh his options of committing in the summer or fall.

My feeling today is that their decisions will not be made until at least October, but that is subject to change as we learn more about when visits are allowed when the committee meets again.

Hafley heating up at BC

Jeff Hafley was on the job at Ohio State for less than a year before moving onto Boston College, where he has parlayed the recruiting chops he showed in Columbus into a solid effort in a much more difficult place to recruit, as the Eagles are trending toward having their best recruiting class since 2014.

I don’t want to do a deep dive on Boston College recruiting here, but quickly: Since the Eagles’ 2014 class finished No. 10 in the ACC (27 signees, 177.12 points), they have finished last or second-to-last in the 14-team conference in every cycle with an average of 20 commitments (166.47 points) per class. In the 2021 class, Boston College is ranked No. 7 in the ACC right now with 15 commitments (151.44 points, with two commits not yet having a player rating) and are trending toward finishing with a top-10 class in the conference.

Impressive stuff. 

If you read my story on Al Washington last weekend, you know that one of the critical reasons the Buckeyes’ linebackers coach has been able to establish himself as one of the country’s top-20 recruiters is because of how he cut his recruiting teeth and learned how to build relationships at the lowest levels of college football coaching. 

It has been the same type of situation with Hafley, who has established himself as a great recruiter on the East Coast in collecting a group of three-star prospects in Massachusetts at Boston College, helped Rutgers finish with a top-30 national class in 2011 and aided Ohio State’s attainment of its 2020 defensive back class in Lathan Ransom, Cameron Martinez, Ryan Watts and Lejond Cavazos (in addition to being the key reason top-50 overall recruit Clark Phillips III committed before he flipped to Utah following Hafley’s departure).

Hafley also landed key transfers in former Buckeye Jaelen Gill, the No. 30-ranked overall player and No. 2-ranked all-purpose back in the country's 2018 signing class, and former Notre Dame quarterback Phil Jurkovec, ranked No. 83 overall and No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in 2018.

“You have to really learn how to evaluate. The biggest thing is when you’re at a place like that, you have to evaluate because you can find guys that maybe should be ranked higher or have more stars.”– Jeff Hafley on the recruiting process at division iii and fcs schools

Like Washington, Hafley believes he owes a lot of that credit toward the early stages of his coaching career, where he cut his teeth at low-level coaching stops as a running backs coach at Division III’s Worcester Polytechnic Institute and as a secondary coach for the University at Albany of the FCS (formerly Division I-AA).

“Yeah, I loved it. It teaches you that you have to do everything,” Hafley told Eleven Warriors of his time coaching at WPI and Albany during December’s Fiesta Bowl media day. “I mean, shoot when I was a Division III coach, I had to line the field, make sure the helmets looked right, organized getting box lunches and making sure food was set, make sure hotel rooms were set. I had to do it all. So it teaches you to see the big picture because you don’t have the support system you would at a place like this. You had to do all the little things by yourself so it teaches you so much in coaching, where when you get to a place like this, it’s almost like, ‘Hey man. I can do that.’ You know what I’m saying? It really helps you grow as a coach.”

Hafley stopped well short of agreeing that recruiting at lower-level places such as those helped him become more genuine, but he did say that it helped him be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

“I would never say it teaches you to be more genuine because I’d like to feel that I’m as genuine here as I was there,” Hafley said. “You have to really learn how to evaluate. The biggest thing is when you’re at a place like that, you have to evaluate because you can find guys that maybe should be ranked higher or have more stars. You’ve gotta really do your homework – evaluate, and then you have to coach them up.”

Hafley’s momentum as a recruiter truly took off during his time at Ohio State, and as he’s beginning to take off at Boston College – with several former Buckeye support staffers on his staff with him – we’re seeing the first branch of Ryan Day’s coaching tree start to flourish.

Jager Burton photo: Zack Carpenter/Eleven Warriors

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