As Trinity University winds down its admissions process for the class of 2020, the Tigers football team is also finalizing the list of players to add to its roster. The group of players committed to play for the Tigers so far come from both small schools and some of the largest 6A programs in Texas, and play various positions all across the field. However, they all meet the coaching staffâ€™s expectations.
The Trinity Tigers football coaching staff has three criteria for determining how first-year roster spots will be allocated on the team.
â€œ[They have] to be an acceptable student academically. They go through the same exact same admissions process as non-student athletes … [and] have to have been on campus for a tour. Third, [they] have to meet all of our expectations and criteria for character, intrinsic motivation and internal goals,â€ said head football coach Jerheme Urban.
Urban and the rest of his staff weigh the third criterion equally among the other two because he says the staff requires the â€œright guysâ€ for the team.
Urban emphasized that he and his staff do not discriminate players based on the level of competition they played against in high school. Rather, they look at the recruitâ€™s ability, potential to help the team and what they call the â€œequal third,â€ listed above.
The Tigers compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)â€™s Division III along with schools such as Case Western Reserve (OH), Lewis & Clark (OR), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA) and Wooster (OH). Division III spans the entire country from New York to California and everywhere in between.
Unlike their Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A or FBS), Football Conference Subdivision (Division I-AA) or Division II counterparts, Division III student-athletes are not given special treatment during the admissions process. They are not given athletics scholarships and must apply and receive admission to schools in the same way non-student-athletes do. Even with the difference in recruiting across NCAA divisions, the Tigers football team prides itself on having its own unique approach to recruiting among its Division III counterparts.
â€œWe do not over offer in order to be fair to the next guy in line. [We tell guys,] â€˜You have one week from this conversation to tell us where youâ€™re at.â€™ We want guys to want to be here. Every guy weâ€™ve recruited understands this. This makes us unique. A lot of schools over-recruit. â€¦ We want to make sure weâ€™re giving our guys a chance to be fully developed, ample practice reps, see the value of their role. They have to practice at a high level everyday,â€ Urban said. â€œIt allows for me and my coaches to be intentional and relational with them. I went to school here. Itâ€™s rigorous. Because weâ€™re recruiting highly motivated guys off the field, in addition to on the field, we have to be accessible them. â€¦ We have to shepherd them.â€
Urban and his staff are extremely excited to have the players who have committed thus far on board. I had the opportunity to sit down with him one-on-one to discuss strategy and how the class of 2020 fits in the teamâ€™s quest for a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title and beyond.
Urban was most excited about the level of competition the class of 2020 would immediately bring to the team. He emphasized how early on, first years are given ample opportunity to prove themselves on the field.
Urban added that there were players in this yearâ€™s class that would increase the level of competition across the board: on offense, defense and special teams, though he was particularly thrilled at the level of tenacity coming to special teams.
The idea of open competition worked its way into first year defensive lineman Alejandro Anzaldua, who earned First Team All-SCAC and First Team All-Freshman Team honors. He also praised first year offensive linemen Brady Blanton and Joel Holmes.
Finding the right player requires watching game film, grading players and creating a list ranking the top 100 or so players. It also requires taking a long-term outlook on the state of the team and determining where need and depth will be required, maybe not in one season, but perhaps two or three.
â€œ[We have got] to get more explosive on offense. [We have not] done a good job in scoring touchdowns. [A] state championship receiver is coming in who had 68 receptions for 15 touchdowns last year,â€ Urban said.
The Tigers have also added a physical slot receiver and another big outside receiver to add to the receiving competition.
Two running backs with different running styles are being brought into the fold.
â€œWe recruited guys [on defense] that were all 6â€™3â€, 215 pounds. They played inside linebacker in high school but now can be an edge guy,â€ Urban said.
Urban is still waiting to hear back from some players they recruited soon.
Overall, he and his staff are extremely excited about the recruiting class of 2020. The recruiting process is long, arduous and a competition between schools in many ways.
The Tigers have their own identity and their own brand of recruiting that they hope will pay dividends next season and beyond.