Recruits sound off on major recruiting keys

CHICAGO --Earlier this month in Chicago, we checked in with a lot of the top prospects in the Big 12 region to get their take on the recruiting process. Some of that feedback was posted in this story earlier from Chicago.
But now that we're back and settled in, it's time to recap some of the other more interesting aspects of our conversations with recruits.
All of these responses come from recruits who participated in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge Presented by Under Armour in Chicago. They all have multiple offers to major schools, and are all going through a fairly intense recruiting process.
So here are some interesting looks into what makes them tick.
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video by Eddie Radosevich
I first asked the recruits: Do you pay attention to team recruiting rankings? Meaning, do you look at how teams are ranked in recruiting at this time of the year and does that matter to you?
"Yeah. I look at it every once in a while," said one top junior at the event. When pressed on how often he looks, it became apparent, he was being a bit coy.
"I check it about every day," he admitted. "I'm always on it. I go on Texas A&M boards and Texas' boards. My dad has a subscription so I look at it sometimes."
Another top prospect in the region said he didn't care about team recruiting rankings. He preferred to be a contrarian.
"Naw, not really," he said. "I'd be the totally opposite. I'd rather go somewhere I could make them better."
But that national recruit, who has chosen to play in the SEC, should his verbal commitment stick, was almost alone in his thinking,
"Yes sir. I look at that a lot," said one of the region's top receivers. "Just about every day."
Some players chose to look less at the immediate success and look more into recent history.
"I don't usually look at (team rankings)," said one Big 12 region defensive back. "I look at what they did in previous years and who all's gonna stay and who left. Other than that I don't usually go all into that detail."
With so much talk about coaching changes at Oklahoma over the past year, and so much talk about new kids on the block like Texas A&M, we were curious how much players pay attention to the types of coaches recruiting them.
Does it matter if a position coach is younger? Do players still look for coaches who have a stellar reputation and experience in the college game?
Are players looking for coaches that know the songs on their IPods?
"(Younger coaches) can relate more," said one Big 12 region defensive lineman. "They are a little bit cooler most times. It would be good playing for a great coach but it was also be great to play for a young coach."
Players were pretty clear across the board. They want coaches they can identify with, even if they aren't known commodities in the coaching world.
It seems in almost every case, recruits are as interested in having a good relationship with a coach as much as they are interested in having someone who can develop them as a player.
For some, that even means they are willing to dive into the unknown.
"I could use Tech for instance," said one of the top offensive players in the region. "They've got a lot of commits because their whole coaching staff is energetic. They're young just like you are so they know where you're coming from."
"I actually do like younger coaches," said another defensive back. "They can relate more to you, they're real cool and I mean, they know exactly what you listen to, they know everything about you."
I didn't get the sense that being an older coach is a deal breaker for any recruit attending the Rivals Challenge. But the key with all of them is having a relationship with someone who can identify with them.
Whether that be through personality, musical tastes or age.
Last year we saw the rise of Ole Miss in the recruiting game. I was curious what this year's crop of national recruits thought about these schools that aren't showing championship results on the field, but are making waves with recruits.
In the earlier article we wrote, I asked players to rate schools on their "swag" from 1 to 10.
One recruit from the Big 12 region, who has an Oklahoma offer, gave Ole Miss a perfect 10.
"The coaching staff is real energetic," he said. "They're not real young, but they're energetic. They get top recruits and they're getting new jerseys and stuff."
Another recruit in the region, an offensive linemen who isn't considering Oklahoma told me about Ole Miss, "I'm going to have to see a lot more out of them this year." He still gave them a 7.5 on the swag scale.
Texas Tech is another school trying to make a swag splash with new helmets, new uniforms and an energetic approach. Hey, Texas A&M turned it around, so why not Tech?
Not so fast said one top receiver in the Big 12 region.
"Texas Tech has a new coaching staff so I'm not really sure about them until they play," he said.
But what about the swag?
"I think most recruits like that," he continued. "They like that Oregon stuff. That's probably why most draw in and try to commit to them. They want to look nice on the field."
What about Baylor? They are really making a push with gold chrome facemasks and cinematic trailers of their uniform unveilings?
"I really haven't paid too much attention to Baylor," said one top defensive lineman.
That same lineman cut to the chase on what really matters for most recruits.
"Everybody looks good when they're winning," he said.
One last peek into the perception of teams in the region. How about Texas A&M? Everyone knows they are the hot team right now.
There was no doubt their message of playing in the SEC, winning and swag is winning over recruits. They are the hottest recruiting team in the country right now.
"Them being in the SEC and being a winning program in the SEC is a big factor," said one defensive giant in the region with offers from A&M, Texas and Oklahoma. "That's one of the main reasons (I'm considering them). I know Oklahoma and Texas are top notch programs. But A&M has their program in the right direction but it won't take Texas that long to get things turned around."
Another top recruit who is considering OU, Texas and Texas A&M didn't have kind words for the Longhorns right now.
"I don't want to shoot them down but right now they're not the school they were in the past," he said. "I grew up a Texas fan. Right now they're not where they were. It won't take long to get them to turn it around."