When the Washburn Ichabods take to the turf in early fall of 2017 they will not look the same as they did last year.
Seniors graduate, some players will transfer early or retire from the game, so somebody new must step in and take their place. This constant turnover makes recruiting vital to the success of any college football program, and the Ichabod coaching staff makes it a high priority.
But the process is far from simple; it is actually so difficult that it constitutes its own position. The man who currently occupies that position (Recruiting Coordinator) for Washburn football is Josh Osborn.
Osborn’s job is to ensure that the Ichabods continue to have talent year after year, and to do this, he must scour the country for not just the best players, but the best ones to fit Washburn’s offensive and defensive systems. A general theme seems to be that speed kills.
“We really want to have guys that fit into our system,” Osborn said. “On the defensive side, with some of the things we do in the secondary, we need kids that maybe aren’t as big size wise, but are quick and fast, that have the ability to blitz and play certain coverages that we want to run. We’re going a little different route there.”
Offensively, Osborne is looking for speed as well, but not only in the positions that you would usually think of such as wide receiver, tight end, quarterback and tailback. He recruits speed on the inside as well.
“With what we do in our scheme, we need guys up front who can move and run as well. Sometimes if you swing for the fences and just go for a guy who is really big and tall, but maybe not as athletic, sometimes it doesn’t work out as well.”
The line is undeniably valuable, but the guy that they protect, the quarterback, is argubly the most important position in football. This is an area of expertise for head coach Craig Schurig, who also is the quarterbacks coach for the Ichabods. When the Ichabod coaching staff looks to recruit a signal caller, the vetting process is thorough.
“It’s tough to tell how kids will translate to the next level, and at the quarterback position it may be even a little tougher yet,” Schurig said. “We throw the ball roughly half the time, so we have to see that the guy has the ability to throw. A lot of times in high schools right now, they’re running the quarterback a lot. He’s almost more of a running back. The kid may be running for 200 yards a game, but he only throws the ball four of five times. So it’s really tough to evaluate. We need to see if he has arm strength because half of our offense is a pro-style passing game. We’re looking for kids who are leaders, with a certain size and speed level. The game is going to be played at a faster pace than in high school and there are going to be bigger bodies in front of them.”
With so many boxes a young quarterback has to check before Washburn signs him, it is very important to evaluate them vigorously. According to coach Schurig, the Ichabods look at quarterbacks (as well as all positions) a number of different ways. Of course there is always the option of attending games to watch the prospect play in person at their high school. But often times there is not enough time to get to a game and watch every recruit in person. Coaches use websites such as Hudl to watch film on recruits. If the coaching staff is really interested, they can bring the player in and have a workout of sorts, to see them in action up close and in person.
Washburn is bringing in players not only from the state of Kansas, but from all over the country. The coaching staff spreads out to all of Kansas’ border states to recruit players, but that’s not all. They are also now branching out to other states, for example, Arizona. The Ichabods are bringing in two highly touted recruits, including Harold Colbert, a 6’4” defensive lineman who made the All-Arizona team in 2016.
Even with the success of their out of state recruiting, both Osborn and Schurig say that focusing on Kansas prospects is key.
“We want to make sure that the kids in Kansas, the ones in our own back yard, are coming to Washburn,” Osborn said. “That’s an area we really hit hard. We always do our homework and due diligence. We prioritize the area kids and the Kansas kids first,” Schurig said. “Anyone within a couple hour radius, we try to get contact with them and get them in for a visit early.”
With a mixture of Kansas and out of state prospects, 33 new Ichabods will join the team next season. Fans should rest assured that the Washburn coaching staff has done their homework. They’ve seen these players in action and know how they will fit in the system.
By leaving no stone unturned in the recruiting process, the Ichabods are getting more of the prospects that they want every single year.