Information-gathering on the scouting trail has never been easy, but grabbing the basic data needed to fully evaluate college prospects is probably as hard as it’s ever been.
Start with Covid protocols, which linger at some schools, limiting basic access to players, coaches, and even team offices. Factor in the transfer portal, which makes simply tracking prospects harder than ever, then consider the volatility of head coaches and their staffs in the high-pressure world of college football. It all makes for a tough job for NFL liaisons, who have to walk a fine line between safeguarding confidential information and promoting a team’s best players.
At ITL, we like to honor excellence, especially among those who get little credit in making the game great. With that in mind, we reached out to several on-the-road evaluators to find out which NFL liaisons and college personnel directors were doing the best job serving their schools and scouts simultaneously. Boy, did they ever open the firehose.
We got so much feedback that it was hard to bring it all together in a comprehensive way, giving the best their due. What we’ve done, instead, is to provide the comments we received on the liaisons that got the most kudos in our highly un-scientific survey. We will organize everything that didn’t make it into today’s Wrap and put it in a post next week at Succeed in Football. We’re also working on plans to honor the best in the business at our annual ITL Combine Seminar in March, so stay tuned for details.
In the meantime, here are the 12 directors/liaisons, presented in alphabetical order, who were most-praised.
Marcus Alleyne, Arizona State
· “Always has the schedule laid out for you and makes sure you’re able to speak to everyone you need.”
· “(Good) access to coaches, zoom calls during the season, good information packet on the players.”
Tyler Barnes, Iowa
· “Tyler is very organized, super-responsive, sharp. He knows his players and is willing to help his players get the exposure they deserve. Iowa is one of the better visits in the Midwest because of the work that Tyler does for us scouts.”
· “(Great) access to coaches, good information on players, feeds us.”
Pablo Cano, Utah
· “Always accommodating, access to coaches, feeds us! Lol”
· “Helps facilitate coaches to talk and makes sure you get everything you need.”
Chris Coulter, Wake Forest
· “Absolute rock star. He is always extremely detailed, he gives us great information, extremely accommodating. Always prepared and just a real good person.”
· “Excellent liaison who communicates truthfully while advocating for the players.”
· “He’s a stud.”
Matt Godwin Georgia
· “Matt is probably the best pro liaison in the country. He has his hands full with a number of other tasks and duties, (but) he always finds time for us . . . and is always very detailed with the information he provides.”
· “Elite in his role. High-level communicator who accommodates a lot of traffic through the school and keeps visitors current, information-wise, on what you need to know.”
· “Excellent at what he does. Paints a great picture of the prospects.”
· “He’s been there for so long, but what you appreciate the most is the honesty he has about the players and their growth. Some liaisons don’t have great understanding of football intelligence, but he does because he spends time recruiting and with the head coach. It helps when you aren’t able to tie down a specific coach.”
D.D. Hoggard, NC State
· “Gives you a ton of information and is always good for a story or two on the players. Best thing about that visit is they try to bring in the players in for us to interview.”
· “The godfather of liasions . . . every scout who is willing to sit and talk will meet every player that they want to see, if the scout is patient. . . He wants to educate the players about what we do. . . . Ask Phillip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Bradley Chubb, Jacoby Brissett and many more. They all credit D.D. for getting real direction and guidance by the two-way access that he provides.”
Jay Kaiser, Illinois
· “Extremely accommodating. Cares greatly about the kids and scouts. Makes for a great visit.”
· “Jay makes the entire visit efficient and effective. He values our time and gives us every opportunity to talk to anyone on the football staff. He is knowledgeable of their players and constantly checking in to make sure we have everything we need. And he’s a great guy away from football just to have a regular conversation with.”
Colton Korn, Coastal Carolina
· “Always easy to get hold of, very accommodating on the visit. They have a great staff there. Real good people. Fun guy that knows the players really well.”
· “Excellent in recruiting his players to stay. He attracts quality freshman and transfers. He is always open, he is honest and he has a great visit for us.”
Kodi Look, Oregon
· “She’s great! Access to coaches, feeds us, informative player sheets.”
· “She does a great job grabbing coaches and setting up appointments to meet with coaches. She also knows the players very well and does a good job with background information, and also makes sure you are fed breakfast and lunch on the visit.”
· “She comes from a football family, so she gets it. Really cares about her program, the players she supports, and the work we do as scouts to give her players an opportunity at the next level. She’s a major reason why Oregon has become one of the better visits out west.”
Eddie Simpkins, Oklahoma St.
· “Eddie is a very personable guy who is easy to communicate with. Spent time in the NFL and has a good idea what we are looking for with background on the players. In addition, sends out updates on the players to keep us plugged into the school.”
· “Has completely changed that visit for the better. Gets us the information we need without making it harder than it needs to be. Has a great feel for the scouting process.”
Graham Wilbert, Pittsburgh
· “Graham has managed to transform Pitt from one of the worst visits to one of the best. He is extremely straightforward and honest, always prepared. He sets you up with whoever you need to meet with. I’ll give Coach (Pat) Narduzzi a lot of credit, that visit used to be awful and they’ve really turned it around.”
· “Graham is new to the job but has been great from the start. He has a strong football background that he can use to relate to current players. In addition, he really has his ear to the ground with the program.”
· “Very thorough and detailed visit. Has answers for all of our questions and a guy you feel you can trust.”
Ethan Young, UCLA
· “He understands what we are about and wants to give as much information as possible about the player to both help us and them. He prioritizes getting to know the prospects and family, and is accessible.”
· “Works his tail off, (provides) access to coaches, informative.”
· “This is Ethan’s first year as the pro liaison and he’s crushed it. Very organized young man. He has a great pulse of the team and the players at UCLA, he works his tail off for that program, and you can see his enthusiasm and passion by how he carries himself. He does such a good job for us scouts when we visit. Has turned UCLA into a great visit.”
There were dozens who received plaudits, but didn’t quite measure up to those we have listed. However, we’re working to find an efficient way to represent the best in the business. We’ll keep you posted on what we decide. Hopefully we can reflect the top professionals when it comes to getting scouts the information they need while simultaneously protecting the players’ interests. Make sure to check out next week’s Succeed in Football edition for more on this loaded topic.
In the meantime, here’s a look at what else we saw, heard, read and said about the business of college and pro football this week.
Catching Up: Brian Adams, 62, spent 36 years scouting for the Browns, Cowboys, Bills, Saints and Panthers. We caught up with him this week.
· Where are you living and what are you doing now? “I’m retired, and we live in Independence, Ohio, just south of Cleveland.”
· Do you miss the job? What do you miss most? “I do miss it. It always kept me very busy and going all the time. Probably what I miss the most is the camaraderie, the people I knew that became friends, that I worked with, things like that. I just heard from a couple of them a couple weeks ago and it was fun talking to them.”
· Do you keep in touch with any of your former colleagues? “Only a couple. I’m one of those people . . . you have people you associate with, and others that are friends. A couple are friends, but most are just people I associated with, mostly for scouting.”
· Do you go to any live games (HS/college/pro)? “I go to a little bit of high school. I haven’t been to a college or pro game, in a long time. Well, I take that back. I went to a Browns preseason game this year, their third preseason game, at home. I went to it for about a half. That might have been my first one since I retired.”
· Are there any players you love to watch and/or feel close to due to your work in the game? “I’m gonna say no, because I like watching all the players. I don’t get caught up in watching the (Bucs QB) Tom Bradys or the (Cowboys QB) Dak Prescotts. I like to watch them all and see how they’re doing. I like to watch guys who I scouted and see how they’re doing. It’s just like (Panthers QB) Baker Mayfield. Never would I have thought he would be the No. 1 pick, because I didn’t see him in that spot . . . I didn’t see him as a No. 1, great player coming out of college, so when I saw him struggle, I felt a little better (about my scouting report), but now I feel bad that he’s really struggling. I didn’t think he would fall that hard. You sit there on draft day, and I grade him here, and he went there. That’s what scouts do. Scouts want to hit on every guy in the round where they have them, and it doesn’t always happen that way, for different reasons.”
Review the latest from other former NFL scouts and executives by accessing our Catching Up archive here. Want to hear from a former scout, or know someone who may be interested in being interviewed? Let us know.
Rookie Agent Zoom II: On Tuesday, we gathered with dozens of newly minted contract advisors to discuss key issues related to player representation. Among the topics we covered were taking calls and emails from strangers (most often aspiring NFL players); who to sign (and not to sign); how to gather information on prospects as you try to decide who to recruit and sign; weighing and comparing the XFL and USFL; and how to deal with the NIL question, specifically, how should you treat it, and how much work should you put into it? It was designed to be an hour-long, but predictably, it went well past that. Here’s a quick overview of what we discussed related to information-gathering. Our next session will be a deep dive into player recruiting. When should you begin recruiting? Who should you sign? What’s a good budget for signing a player? How many players should you sign? What happens when your potential client has already chosen a trainer to work with? Should you sign a player who calls you? If so, what kind of criteria should you follow? We’ll be joined by several guests who had success in their rookie seasons as agents while following different philosophies. If you’re a new agent, you’ve been hit by stacks of fees over the past 30 days. We get that. Still, we think the value of our twice-monthly sessions is worth $29.95/mo and then some. There is no cost for ITL members, and our sessions are not taped, so be there or miss it forever. We’re looking at the second week of November for our next session, with our second one either the week of Thanksgiving or afterwards. We’d love to see you at our next session, which is open to all ITL clients, regardless of year certified (and even if you’re not an agent). Once again, all you have to be is an ITL client to join us.
Rep Rumblings: This week, we had two reports. On Monday, we looked at the dismissal of Will Healy at Charlotte and school’s plan moving forward to replace him. We also had notes on a couple scouting changes, the launch of Session II for the NFL Alumni Academy, and a quick reminder on our coming Zoom sessions. Then, on Tuesday, we looked at several scouting developments we’ve turned up in our team-by-team review while creating this year’s Know Your Scouts reports. We found new developments with the Panthers, Eagles, Packers and Cowboys. Don’t forget: all our rumblings reports going back 10 years are here.
Scouts by area (2022): This week, at long last, we published our team-by-team, region-by-region grid. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to scouting staffs, but we did our best to break down which evaluators are covering what areas this fall. It took a little longer than normal this year, but we feel this year’s grid is the most accurate one we’ve ever produced. Check it out here.
ITL Scouting Reports: Having trouble getting a good read from scouts on the players you’re recruiting? Need a dispassionate way to discuss a player’s NFL potential with him? Want to show a potential client what he needs to work on, straight from an expert? We’ve got the solution. We can create a one-page scouting report within 24-48 hours in most cases. All we need is a name, position, school, and $100 plus tax ($108.25). All reports are written by former Titans Director of College Scouting Blake Beddingfield. Blake has written close to 1,000 reports for us since he started breaking down players for us in November 2018. Don’t take a risk on spending thousands of dollars on a player until you’re sure he’s worth it. Reach out today and let’s get to work.
The final push: Yes, the mid-terms are just around the corner, but we’ve got our own voting to focus on. If you’re an active NFL scout, you just received an email (for the last time this fall) with the links to our vote on the 2022 BART List. We need your input as we determine the top pro scouts, the top scouting executives and the top on-the-road evaluators in each conference. If you haven’t voted yet, please consider doing so this weekend. The “polls” close Monday at midnight.
Next week: We’ll take a step back from our aggressive Zoom schedule to focus on planning for the fall next week, but we’ve got plenty of content ahead.
· We’ll look at five more teams in our Know Your Scouts series, including Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets and Lions.
· Our look at the finest pro liaisons, DPPs and even strength coaches continues as we focus on the best of the best in next week’s Succeed in Football blog.
· With our Agents by Total Clients and Agent Changes done, we’ll have four more Rep Rumblings reports.
· In next week’s Friday Wrap, we’ll look at the leading contenders for the Best Draft Award for the ’22 draft at the seasons’ midpoint.
· We’ll have details on our pre-XFL Draft Zoom session, which is coming in the next two weeks with the selection meeting set for mid-November.