Prized football recruits can make their decisions based on anything and everything.
Early playing time. Staying close to home. Wanting to win championships. Connecting with the coaches.
Grabbing a prospect’s attention when he’s getting pursued by dozens of schools isn’t always easy.
Georgia is sending some of its 2015 recruits hand-drawn portraits of themselves with a message from coach Mark Richt that are created by a student assistant in the Bulldogs’ recruiting office.
“No one else was doing that,” said Daryl Jones, Georgia’s director of on-campus recruiting. “I don’t know if we’re trying to one-up anybody so much, but if we’re doing something that no one else is rather than turn around and try to copy somebody by sending somebody 100-something letters or things of that nature, why don’t we do something that is unique for that individual and makes them feel special because if we’re recruiting them, he obviously is special.”
— Hunnit_Gang1 (@RoquanSmith1) February 28, 2014
The drawings of Lisa Rader, a junior graphic design major from Pittsburgh, are showing up on the blogosphere after recruits tweeted out images showing them wearing a jersey that is half Georgia and half their high school.
— D'Andre Walker (@LuxuryLife1K) April 2, 2014
Georgia began sending out portraits last year starting with five-star Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter in the late summer or fall.
Georgia was already using student graphic artists from the university for recruiting mailings and discovered the work of Rader, from Pittsburgh, who had charcoal drawings in her portfolio.
“When we noticed it, we were like, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Can you do that often? And freehand it? Can you take a look at a picture and create an image from that?’” Jones said.
Georgia got the go-ahead from compliance director Jim Booz and his staff that the hand-drawn picture could be used if it included a message with it. That’s where Richt came in.
The concepts of what to draw came from the recruiting office with input from coaches, Jones said.
“We’ll hear from everybody from a position coach who is recruiting that particular athlete all the way to us in the recruiting department,” Jones said.
Rader drew portraits in pencil on regular cardstock that were colored in of a couple of 2014 recruiting targets, including Carter, who ended up signing with Georgia.
“To the best of our knowledge, it was unique,” Jones said. “Nobody else had done this from a recruiting perspective.”
Jones said because Rader works part-time, a portrait can be a multi-day project.
“The concept with Lorenzo was to draw him in a full uniform holding on to a Georgia helmet,” Jones said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s recruiting blog first noted prospects getting the portraits with the personalized messages from Richt, including safety Rashad Roundtree from Lakeside-Evans.
“Rashad, You Would Thrive in The Red + Black! Go DAWGS!” Richt signed the portrait. Roundtree tweeted a picture of it with the message: “Best mail yet! Really makes an impact! #Dawgs #UGA”
— Tree (@Rashad_Tr33) March 31, 2014