Some folks believe SEC football coaches are more like CEO’s these days. They manage and oversee. The role is to pepper in wisdom and needed tweaks during the practice week and play a role during in-game strategy.
How plugged in are those guys to recruiting? Maybe the head coach knows the names of the top 2-3 targets at every position. The best even know their high schools and the names of their varsity head coaches. That’s the general assumption. Relationship building is usually left in the hands of player personnel directors and assistant coaches.
When a player commits, they usually share that decision with the head coach after others have heavily invested in securing that decision. The recruiting story of Georgia’s newest commitment Bailey Hockman flies in the face of that.
UGA head coach Mark Richt was a Craig Kimbrel during his recruitment. He just showed up to play the closer’s role somewhere around the fifth inning. Scratching your head yet? McEachern head football coach Kyle Hockman explains it best.
“Every box was checked when it came to Georgia,” said Hockman, who’s also Bailey’s father. “But I think the relationships he had built with Georgia was number one. Coach Richt and coach (Brian) Schottenheimer spent a great deal of time with him through the process. Brian was just a guy that Bailey felt real comfortable with right away.”
Kyle Hockman said all the schools said and did all the right things, but there was only one school that did what Georgia did when Hockman visited during spring practice and sat in on the quarterback meetings.
“Coach Richt sat there with Bailey in the quarterback meetings coaching Bailey by himself while Coach Schottenheimer was running the meeting,” Kyle Hockman said. “He actually spent 45 minutes during Georgia’s spring practice coaching Bailey during that meeting. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen. That kind of stuff didn’t happen for us anywhere else. The day Coach Richt did that had a huge role in him committing to Georgia.”
5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BAILEY HOCKMAN
1. New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was also key. Hockman was the first player the first-year coordinator offered at Georgia. Hockman’s father also appreciated how he would “be real” with his future pupil. He didn’t want to hear just how great he was and the pitch all the time. Hockman asked Schottenheimer to “give me five things” Bailey needed to work on right now and be blunt. It was all about getting better.
“That’s the cool thing,” Kyle Hockman said. “That’s why Georgia was different.”
2. Faith also played a big part: The McEachern coach told the AJC that his son has a strong personal Christian faith. He said the strong faith exhibited by Richt and Schottenheimer also played a part in the decision.
“That faith connection is really a big part of that relationship Bailey built with the coaches,” Kyle Hockman said. “That relationship he had with the coaches at Georgia was really the number one thing.”
3. His commitment date was planned: Hockman’s recruiting essentially began when he received his first Power 5 offer from Florida State last summer. His high school team goals are very important and a drawn-out recruiting process can be counter-productive to that.
His June 12 commitment date was a target. He had been praying about the choice for awhile. The Hockman family sat down two days before he made his commitment and Bailey knew in his heart Georgia was right for him. The Hockmans called Georgia last Wednesday and told them news would be on the way on Friday. The only hiccup in the execution was he got stuck in traffic on the way to Athens. There were given a bye in their first 7-on-7 game in pool play so they could meet with Georgia’s coaches in Richt’s office and make that commitment.
He also sent a text to the coaches at approximately 10 other schools thanking them for his recruitment right around the same time he shared the news of his commitment via his Twitter account.
4. He’s already a coach himself: Hockman works out with the middle school quarterbacks in McEachern’s feeder programs every Wednesday and is already serving as a coach to those guys.
5. The Jacob Eason factor did not give them pause: Football is all about competition. Jacob Eason is the top-ranked quarterback in the country for this signing class. He will enroll at UGA next January. Its not a stretch to picture the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder to be at the top of the depth chart when Hockman arrives in 2017.
“Any of the schools that were recruiting him have great quarterbacks,” Kyle Hockman said. “There will be great quarterbacks there and more coming in and more on their way after Bailey gets to Georgia. Any of those schools might get a surprise transfer. Its such a fluid thing with de-commitments and whatever else. Who’s there and who is going to be there that he might have to compete with are not really much of a factor in this. It really isn’t. He just needed to go to where he felt was the best place he needed to be.”
Need to see for yourself about Hockman? Check out this AJC.com video from his 7-on-7 day in Athens.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.