Twitter is stupid, I hate it.
First it was MySpace, then FaceBook, and now Twitter has been "The" Social Media site for the last few years (there's also Intsagram, Vine and SnapChat too, but who really cares). For those who have absolutely no clue what I'm talking about, Twitter is a social media site where you "tweet" status updates about what you're doing and thinking. It lets you connect with friends, family members and complete strangers so you don't have to talk to them in real life. However, Twitter is also starting to become a recruiting tool. Recruits, coaches and even fans are all starting to use twitter to help connect and monitor a player's actions and recruiting process. Here is how Twitter is changing the recruiting game.
For the Coaches
Coaches usually use Twitter to monitor an athletes behavior whether they are recruiting them or if they're already on the team. You don't want to recruit a player that could give your program a bad name or possibly get himself and the program in trouble. There have been stories about players who have lost scholarships or their chances of getting one due to Twitter, so coaches actually do keep track of what their players say.
However, they also use Twitter as a recruiting tool. In an ESPN article back in 2012, coaches reveled that they use twitter as a way of recruiting players too. Much like texting, the rules on recruiting with social media are not very clear. While coaches can't tweet athletes or tag them in a post, they can direct message them, much like a text message. Coaches also said that they use athletes twitter pages to figure out what they're into, so they can strike up a conversation or know what to talk about with them.
Very seldomly do coaches actually use and operate their twitter. Some coaches are hands on, while others avoid it altogether. Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M tweets out "Yessir!" everytime someone commits to their class, while Art Briles tweets #DreamBigDreamBaylor along with the area code of the commit. Kliff Kingsbury? He rarely uses twitter. He only tweets once every couple weeks and has only compiled around 150 tweets. Coaches have definitely taken notice of this new trend.
For the Players
Recruits are more than football players that college coaches are pursuing, they're also teenagers. Teenagers are huge fans of social media and some of them are constantly on it. A majority of recruits therefore use social media sites to express their interest and talk to friends. However, they also use Twitter to talk about their recruiting experiences, interest and announcements.
There are some recruits that just talk about their football experience and don't get caught up in the drama. All their tweets are football related, whether it's info about where they're going, their interest or articles on themselves. You also have the recruits that seem to get caught up in all the attention, tweeting out about certain schools just to get love from the fans. They start getting caught up in the hype and the stardom that comes with college football. Some have tons and tons of followers, while others set their account to private or don't own a twitter at all. Others just tweet like regular, everyday high school kids, with a little bit of recruiting info mixed with their regular tweets.
Some players do get in trouble on Twitter though. Two years ago, there was a high 4-star CB named Yuri Wright that was considering playing football at Michigan until they pulled their offer. The reason was because Michigan coaches spotted several sexually and racially inappropriate tweets on his twitter. He ended up committing to Colorado, but his tweets cost him a chance to play at a legendary program and almost a BCS program. A former Tech recruit (who I won't name) committed to another school, but shortly after he did so, started saying controversial, rude comments regrading the Michael Sam situation. He got a lot of flock and dislike on twitter to the point he made his account private.
Commits also use to Twitter to connect with fellow recruits and try to get them to join their class. It used to be that recruits had to know or meet a player before getting their contact info, but with Twitter, they can just look them up and start talking with them. Texas Tech commits Stidham and Fehoko starting hitting up recruits after they committed to the Red Raiders, including talking to recruits like Tyron Johnson, Darrion Daniels and Kris Boyd. Other commits from other programs are reaching out to recruits too, trying to get the best class to come with them to school. Player recruiting is starting to become a bigger part of recruiting thanks to Twitter.
For the Fans
Ahh, the fans. This includes you, me and every other avid college football fan across the nation. Not every fan uses Twitter (if you don't use it, give yourself a good pat on the back), but some do, and use it to keep track of their favorite players and recruits. While some just like seeing what these kids are thinking and saying, others try to talk with them and either complement them or try and convince the recruits to come to their school.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of talking to recruits and persuading them. I think that the coaches should do all the recruiting and that fans of the teams shouldn't get involved with the process. However, there are fans out there that do so. Some just simply tweet their school slogan, some give reason why they should attend their school, while others bash other programs and say strange stuff to the recruits. While most recruits like the attention and enjoy it, some recruits don't like all the tweets and find it disturbing that 40 year olds across the country are commenting and replying about everything they say.
There are some pretty interesting stories in this recent ESPN article about fans recruiting on Twitter. Some fans constantly try to communicate with the recruits (on and off line), while some go as far as to making strange request and threats. One fan told a recruits he would "kill himself" if the player didn't pick his school. He later said he wasn't serious, but some fans are crazy enough to put that kind of pressure on a recruit. Someone else created a twitter just so he could try a persuade a top recruit to come to his school. Another fan said if he committed to his school, he would name his son after him. Creepy stuff.
I'm not here to stop the movement though, as basically every fan base across college football has alumni who reach out to players. While I don't think it's right, if we can get our fan base to stop tweeting recruits and others don't, how fair is that? Technically everyone that does so is committing an NCAA violation (including Wes Welker), but the NCAA isn't going to find everyone on Twitter and punish them somehow. So I'm not going to complain about Tech fans talking to recruits and hyping them up about the Red and Black, just keep it clean and don't get creepy.
For the Writers
As a recruiting writer for this site, Twitter is very useful for getting information. When I first started writing, I didn't use my twitter account and basically got all my info from free stories and information on recruiting sites like Rivals and 247sports. As the season went on, I started figuring out how to use Twitter and how to find information on my own. Now around 95% of the info I receive is from Twitter, whether it's from the recruits themselves or other writers and bloggers on Twitter. While I still use 247sports and Rivals a little bit to see who they say we're going after and what they think our chances of getting them, I can now find out when recruits visit and talk with coaches, and have my own opinion about where they're going to go.
While I don't follow recruits, I still check their pages and see when they release Top 10 list, talk about a school, talk about a visit or even commit. I found out about Breiden Fehoko committing through his Twitter page, not through any other writers or recruiting sites. It's amazing how much info you can get just through one site (Google doesn't count). Even though I don't like Twitter and I'm not a huge fan of Social Media sites in general, I couldn't provide y'all with the info I do without it. So thank you Twitter.
That's how this social media site is affecting recruiting and college football as we know. Who knows, maybe another social media site will take over in a few years and everyone will start using that. I'm curious to see how big and chaotic recruiting online gets before the NCAA does anything significant about it. One thing is for sure, this is a new phase of recruiting that will change how things are done.
That being said, Twitter is still stupid, and I still hate it.