Much like in the actual games themselves, it’s the close attention to detail during the process that produces the desired result in the end.
That’s very much the approach to recruiting for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns football program under coach Billy Napier.
Of course, winning 11 games, including a bowl victory, certainly helps the cause as well.
“If you’re into rankings, they say this is the best class in our league,” Napier said Wednesday. “It’s a top-10 class in Group of Five football. For us, we’re not necessarily concerned with that. We’ve got an evaluation process and plan and we’ve executed it better than we’ve ever done it before.
“It was truly a team effort.”
UL coach Billy Napier put the final bow on its 2020 signing class with a national signing day press conference Wednesday.
Napier made a special effort at Wednesday’s news conference to thank as many of the behind-the-scenes contributors to the recruiting process as possible.
As a staff, the coaches are convinced that team effort is the program’s secret to recruiting success.
“That was a common theme when you meet with these families at the end of a visit, or go sit in their living room and talk to them about our program,” Napier said. “At some places, one person may be recruiting that kid or his family. At our place, it may be eight, 10, 12 people that are contributing. I think that part of our plan is working.”
UL wide receivers coach Tim Leger said he noticed a difference on the recruiting trails after the 11-3 season.
“I think it was a little bit in terms of maybe the caliber of guy that we could entertain,” Leger said.
“Now it’s a different kind of guy paying attention, based on last year’s success and some of our stuff with (digital specialists) Doug (Domingue) and Ryan (Benoit) and the graphics and the marketing. Our brand is out there so much.”
While the fancy new stuff helps, Leger said the basis for UL’s recruiting strategy is actually more of an old-school approach.
Soon all the excitement and superlatives associated with national signing day will be gone.
“Being from the state of Louisiana and having coached high school football in the state, there’s a lot of respect in the way we do it and coach Napier’s system,” Leger said. “People are observant to the fact that we kind of have a blue-collar approach, we do things the right way with integrity and character. They appreciate it and respect it and I think that’s opened some doors with the high school coaches in the state to help us with some of these guys.”
So while winning football games helps, offensive coordinator Rob Sale reminds the system worked in their first recruiting class “and we hadn’t won a single game yet.”
Leger added the big turnaround actually began last spring followed Napier’s first season.
“I think it started back all the way to spring ball last year,” Leger said. “We basically had five times the amount of guys on campus last spring than we did our first spring here.”
So consistent contact, no matter how small, can make a big difference in the end.
“The tide kind of started turning and when you get exposure to those guys,” Leger explained. “When a Kyren Lacy comes to your 7-on-7 camp a couple of times, he’s on campus a couple of different times to watch practice, you’re already in the relationship with that guy when he starts to play well and heats up.
“Mason Narcisse was probably here 10 times. Well, how’d you beat Tulane? How’d you beat Tech? Colorado? Whoever. Well, the guy was here 10 times. I think all that plays into it. The success of today (Wednesday) really started last spring.”
The formal gathering is scheduled for noon Wednesday at the Russo Park Stadium Club, with doors opening at 11:30 a.m.