Spavital, staff push football recruitment online

Head Coach Jake Spavital listens to the school song after the Texas State football game vs. Troy football game Nov. 16 at Bobcat Stadium. The Bobcats lost the matchup 63-27. Photo credit: Jamie Dorsey

Head Coach Jake Spavital listens to the school song after the Texas State football game vs. Troy football game Nov. 16 at Bobcat Stadium. The Bobcats lost the matchup 63-27. Photo credit: Jamie Dorsey

Andrew Zimmel

The COVID-19 epidemic halted the Texas State football program and second year head coach Jake Spavital in the middle of spring practices. Now, like every other program in the country, the Bobcats are figuring out how to recruit with technology they have not had to rely on before.

While the Texas State campus has been shut down for just under a month, it could be many more months before students and student-athletes are walking around campus. Just as the spring and summer semesters were moved to online-only classes, the athletics department has had to become a virtual program for an undetermined amount of time.

Spavital said that recruiting has now been focused on marketing creatively and remotely online.

“You have to try to find unique and creative ways to sell your product, to sell your university,” Spavital said. “That’s been the funniest part. Just having discussions and the dialogue and trying to figure out what’s going to be best for us. How can we sell this university when we can’t bring them to campus?”

Texas State already has a lead on other universities thanks to a younger coaching staff and social team that has continued to put out consistent content.

Coach Spavital said the staff has been a big part in making sure the recruiting trail stays hot.

“I think we have a younger staff that relates to a lot of these kids,” Spavital said. “I feel pretty good where we’re at. I think we’ve gotten really far ahead on our evaluations and watching tape. We’ve been in contact with each other through the course of the entire week and I think we do a really good job in terms of delegating whose going to be FaceTimeing people and who’s going to be texting people and making sure our top recruits are getting hit by everybody on our coaching staff.”

Spavital said that there will also be more fun in-depth factors once everyone adjusts more social distancing policies and that virtual campus visits are the next step.

“There’s obviously more steps in the future,” Spavital said, “We can start doing virtual on-campus visits, which will also be fun as well. We are enjoying putting all this content out and sending it to our recruits.”

Unlike some programs around the country who are taking this time to Zoom meet for team meetings and work with players during this break, Coach Spavital said he is taking another approach.

“I sat and had discussions with a lot of different universities, a lot of people in this profession that I am very close with, on what they’re doing and how they’re doing things,” Spavital said. “I’m using this time as ‘discretionary weeks.’”

“Discretionary Weeks” is the term the NCAA uses when talking about the time a student-athlete has to themselves. The student-athlete has no required workouts or training and can do those activities at their discretion.

Spavital said the team is honing in on academics and health during the “discretionary weeks” and waiting for more information from the NCAA.

“A lot of coaches out there are doing Zoom Meetings and player meetings right now, where we’re taking this time to focus on our schoolwork and academics and making sure we are staying healthy,” Spavital said. “I believe that the rules are changing every single day. If I can knock out all my ‘Discretionary Weeks’ right now, and just focus on staying healthy and staying safe, that hopefully there will be some new rules in place by the time we meet with our players.”

Many analysts and fans around college football have all worried that the canceled spring and summer practices might hurt teams, but Coach Spavital said that he and his staff have no fear.

“I think we have a good group of kids; we’ve recruited good class in here. I think we’re all on the same page. We just want to play football,” Spavital said. “However, we can’t get back out there on the field. There’s a lot of discussion, a lot of unknown, right now. It’s mainly worrying about what we can control and what we can keep focusing on. Getting a day better at something and staying positive through this whole time and eventually understanding that we’re going to play football and when that time comes, we’ll need to be ready to roll.”

The team has a lot on their plates between the COVID-19 and figuring out to have the first winning football season since 2014, but according to Spavital, they’re still in a good place as they await their first matchup against SMU on Saturday, Sept. 5.

The University Star’s COVID-19 coverage can be found here.


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