Over the last year, Inside Texas spoke with scores of high school prospects across several classifications. The topic that constantly came up was official visits.
“It’s always nice to go see the campus for itself,” 2022 offensive lineman Malik Agbo said in February. “There’s nothing like it.”
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the NCAA enacted a dead period. That meant institutions could not host prospective student-athletes nor could coaches see prospects at their high schools or in their homes.
Many 2021 early enrollees showed up to school without meeting their head coach in person. In one unique instance, Texas early enrollee Jamier Johnson never had the chance to physically meet with former head coach Tom Herman.
With Thursday’s announced return to the regular recruiting calendar on June 1 for all Division I sports, FBS prospects in the 2022, 2023, and 2024 classes can see schools for themselves and interact with coaches in-person (and on the school’s dime if they are official visits).
A number of schools, Texas included, have anticipated the lifting of dead period rules in recent weeks. Many of Steve Sarkisian’s top recruiting targets are slated to be on the Forty Acres in June.
Programs have also found ways to work around the NCAA restrictions during the dead period. Oklahoma essentially left the doors unlocked to Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in August 2020 for a large group of recruits. That drew scrutiny from other fanbases around the country, but other schools, including Texas, eventually followed suit in some form.
Since the beginning of the dead period, many prospects and their families have paid for their visits to schools and toured campuses without any in-person interaction with athletic department staff. Sarkisian has made use of this workaround, including recently with one of the best offensive line prospects in the country.
Though the dead period may be ending June 1, that does not mean coaches can get out on the road. A return to the regular recruiting calendar for FBS means most of June is part of a quiet period. During that time, institutions may host prospects on campus but there are restrictions regarding in-person interactions off-campus.
“I have no idea when we might be able to get back on the road,” Sarkisian said Tuesday. “I really have no idea. If they open up June, I’ll be working every day of the month of June. That’s just the way it goes. Recruiting is our lifeline, so we’ve got to give it the credit it deserves.”
Beginning June 1, prospects can interact with coaches and other staffers and see their potential future homes for themselves. The recruiting landscape now looks much closer to what it was pre-pandemic.
Recruits can now see the school they might have committed to sight unseen (and possibly check out some of their other old suitors, too).
It sets up a summer chock-full of recruiting storylines and events. Recruiting never stops, not even during a pandemic, but in a few months it will back to normal.