When ESPN NFL analyst Darren Woodson was recruited to play college football in 1987, he didn’t have a cell phone, let alone a Twitter or Facebook account. So when his nephew, senior cornerback Cole Luke (a 2013 Notre Dame signee) went through the process this season — more than 25 years later — Woodson was exposed to a whole new world of recruiting.
The former three-year starter at Arizona State who won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys as a pro discusses his eye-opening experience with Front Row:
Your nephew Cole Luke is a four-star defensive back prospect from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz. How did you help him prepare for the recruiting process?
I don’t know if it was so much me preparing my nephew for the recruiting process or him preparing me. I haven’t gone through this since ’87, so it had been a long time and the rules have changed — when there’s dead time, and when the coach can call you, and now with social media. So he had to educate me on the process first.
I basically numbered the teams that he had interest in, or the schools that he had interest in. And that was one of the mistakes at first — I’m thinking NFL, hey, let’s list the teams. And then I thought about it, let’s list the schools and the education.
What part does social media play in today’s recruiting process?
It’s huge. I cannot imagine the pressure that would be placed on me at the age of 17-18 and having Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and all these different social media outlets to go through and get recruited off of. Back when in ’87, the coaches called the house and they called your head coach. You went through that process of meeting with your head coach and your head coach setting up the meetings at the same time.
Now it’s totally different. There’s so much more pressure on these young kids to make a decision. There’s so much access to those players at the same time that you really have to be focused on making the right decision and not being overwhelmed with too much information.
Speaking of social media, you have a cameo in a recent commercial for AT&T that has a recruiting theme. What feedback have you received?
A ton of feedback. My nephew Cole is always on me joking about that little two-second blurb I got — “Hello!” — I mean, that’s all I hear. I hear from everyone. Even Herm Edwards the other day, who was the king of that word: “Hello.” He got on me about, “Why didn’t they come recruit me instead of you?” So, I’ve heard it from everyone.
For a complete recap of the college football recruiting season and rankings of the top classes, visit ESPN’s Recruiting Central.
ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row
• Mike & Mike in the Morning researcher Kristen “Balbiz” Balboni talked with Front Row about her other ESPN gig, quizzing Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic for the “Next Question” segment.
• ESPN NBA analysts shared intriguing gift ideas for Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday on Sunday, Feb. 17.
• Studio E, the home of Mike & Mike in the Morning, First Take, NFL Live, and NFL 32, got a refresher last week. The operations crew took advantage of the empty studio due to offsite Super Bowl XLVII coverage and upgraded cameras, monitors and set lighting.
• ESPNU aired its eighth annual National Signing Day Special earlier this week. The coverage included many updates from ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill.
Row of Four
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Allison Stoneberg contributed to this post.