The Ripon College football team announced its 2018 recruiting class with a series of posts on Twitter such as this, advertising the addition of Dylan Stevenson of Phoenix, Ariz.
The Ripon College football team announced its 2018 recruiting class with a series of posts on Twitter such as this, advertising the addition of Dylan Stevenson of Phoenix, Ariz.

   I don’t have much experience with recruiting — especially when it comes to sports.

   I didn’t play a sport in high school and wasn’t sought after by any college for my academic prowess. I applied to just the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Ripon College.

   The limited knowledge I do have comes from the now-defunct EA Sports NCAA Football video game series.

   As a coach of the school of my choosing — usually the Wisconsin Badgers — I was in charge of recruiting players for next year and trying to build the best team.

   In order to garner commits, I had to decide what would be the most effective “pitch” for each recruit: program prestige, location, playing time, coaching style, coaching prestige or academics.

   One recruiting strategy that wasn’t an option was facilities.

   Ripon College would have struggled with that option — until last year — as its out-dated athletic center did little to impress prospects.

   But after completing a $22 million renovation project, its Willmore Center now is a strong asset, and one even I would know to leverage in the video game.

   Due in large part to the revamped facility, as well as a new, wider-approach recruiting strategy, the Red Hawk football program is welcoming its largest freshman class in school history.

   Fifty kids from 13 states report today (Wednesday) to begin their collegiate careers, along with the returning players.

   The group is larger than the expected number of returning players (35) and is just shy of the total number of players from last year’s team (54).

   Ripon head coach Ron Ernst credits the Willmore Center with his recruitment riches.

Read the full column, which includes how this large class can help the program, as well as the role social media had, in the Aug. 9, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.