Givler Talks Vrabel and Recruiting
By Brandon Castel
We recently caught up with Rivals.com analyst Marc Givler to talk about Ohio State defensive line coach Mike Vrabel and his impact as a recruiter. Givler covers Ohio State recruiting for BuckeyeGrove.com, and he had some very interesting things to say about Vrabel.
You can read the full story here, but here is a recap of our Q & A session.
Ozone: You said you were surprised how far Mike Vrabel has come as a recruiter in just one year. What were your thoughts initially when Ohio State hired Vrabel?
Givler: I always have the same concern whenever you are talking about someone moving from the NFL to the college ranks whether that's a coach or in Vrabel's case a retired player. The NFL is dominated by X's and O's and film study and while that is certainly an important part of the college football landscape, the NFL really obsesses over it.
Because of that, you can often times have guys coming from the NFL that aren't prepared to recruit and recruiting is absolutely the most important of attaining success at the college level. Some guys can't get out of that X's and O's mode and would much rather spend their entire day breaking down film and working on schemes instead of building relationships with recruits.
So of course my initial concern about Vrabel would be if he would "get" how important recruiting is and embrace that, because you can't be a good recruiter if you don't like to recruit. Vrabel has absolutely attacked the recruiting trail and has shown to be a very quick learner in that regard.
Ozone: What has Vrabel done over the last year as a recruiter that really surprised you?
Givler: I think he has done a great job of really getting through to the kids that he has been able to work with at camps and on the team during practices in terms of being able to actually show them and talk them through how he can make them a better player. It's one thing to flash his super bowl rings around, and that might get some kids' attention, but wearing a super bowl ring doesn't automatically mean you have what it takes to turn kids into great football players. I've been very impressed watching him teach kids at camps and teaching his players at spring practices.
Ozone: Did Vrabel really have to prove himself to Urban Meyer as a recruiter, and how did he manage to do that so quickly?
Givler: I definitely think he had to prove himself to Meyer. Meyer has made no secret about his beliefs that assistant coaches that can't recruit aren't going to work for him. His ability to relate to the kids, to really be able to communicate with them how he can make them better have definitely been things that have impressed me about him. Obviously the NFL experience and all of the accolades have helped him. That gets your foot in the door with the kids, but once your foot is in the door, you have to be able to relate to them and communicate with them and I think he's been way ahead of the curve in that aspect.
Ozone: It seems like the Super Bowl rings and NFL career would sell itself, but there has to be more to it right?
Givler: Kids might be initially impressed by flashing the Super Bowl rings and talking about the NFL career, but ultimately there has to be some substance to go along with that. Recruiting is a marathon and is largely based upon building relationships, Vrabel has already proven he understands that.
Ozone: From what you have seen/heard on the recruiting trail, how have kids responded to Vrabel as a recruiter?
Givler: He is very well liked by the kids that I have spoken to that have either worked with him at a camp or are being recruited by him. They like his demeanor, they like his energy, and again, he relates to them very well. I would say that I've received as much positive feedback about Vrabel from talking to recruits as I have for any assistant on the staff.
Ozone: What kids has Vrabel been instrumental in landing? Obviously Noah Spence and Michael Hill are the big one, but are there others?
Givler: Obviously Hill and Spence are two of the huge names that he has played a hand in getting to Ohio State. He also was the biggest factor in landing the Massachusetts duo of LB Camren Williams and DB Armani Reeves. His connections in that part of the country were the big reason that Ohio State was able to get into that mix when things at Penn State began to fall apart in the winter.
Also in this current cycle, he was a major key in getting Tracy Sprinkle and is currently the biggest factor, in my opinion, as to why Ohio State is sitting in the top few schools for 4-star Tarboro (N.C.) DE Tyquan Lewis.
Looking ahead, he is playing a major role in the recruitment of Joliet (Ill.) Plainfield South LB Clifton Garrett and arguably the nation's top junior, Woodbridge (Va.) DE Da'Shawn Hand. Vrabel's presence at one of Hand's spring practices did not go unnoticed by Da'Shawn and the people around him.
Ozone: Where do you rank Vrabel right now in terms of recruiters on OSU's staff and in the Big Ten, or is that not a fair question yet?
Givler: It's tough to rank him among the rest of the Big Ten because he just hasn't been doing this very long but he has been very strong 'out of the gates' so far and he is climbing the ladder quickly when it comes to being one of the top young recruiters in the conference.
I would say he is just as valuable of a recruiter as any assistant on this current Ohio State staff. He has helped secure as many verbal commitments from kids that maybe weren't considered "Buckeye Locks" as any member of this staff in the last year.
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