Once again, Fairfield High School is on the must-visit list of places for college coaches this spring.
After sending players to Louisville, Cincinnati, Michigan State, Michigan and Clemson (among others) over the past five years, coach Jason Krause said more than 70 schools sent representatives to a recent recruiting event to see who is in the pipeline for this fall and coming years.
Fairfield has at least two Division I college prospects in the senior class for 2020.
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Jutahn McClain is not only the Indians' marquee player for the 2019 season but as of mid-May the No. 1 college prospect in the area according to 247Sports Composite rankings.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back has more than a dozen offers, including Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Cincinnati.
Krause said McClain plans to use all five officials visits allowed by the NCAA and one to Penn State is already in the works.
McClain was set to announce his decision on July 4 but has backed off that firm timeline, Krause said, to assure he has time to assess all his options.
“I think he’s truly a multipurpose guy,” Krause said of what the GMC’s 2018 leading rusher can bring to a college offense. “He will carry between the tackles, he’ll go in the slot, he’ll run jet sweep stuff, and he’ll catch the ball. He’s going to do all that for us, and he’ll do that at the next level.”
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Krause’s quarterback also has the eye of college coaches, and his profile could rise this summer when Sawiaha Ellis hits the camp circuit.
The 6-2, 220-pounder is a three-star "athlete" prospect at this point with offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Toledo and Youngstown State according to 247Sports.
Krause said Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana and Pittsburgh are also among those showing interest in Ellis, who might end up playing linebacker, safety or some combination of both in college.
“I think you’ll start to see him pulling some big-time offers here in the summer time,” Krause said.
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Managing recruiting attention is part of the job for high school coaches these days, and what that entails has evolved over the years — for better and for worse.
Social media allows players to connect with each other and recruiters more easily, but it can also create added pressure on players with a lot of information to sort through while trying to figure out the best place for them to continue their careers.
“I think No. 1 it’s my job to protect my players,” Krause said. “Recruiting can be an ugly process. It can be a fun process. It can be an exciting process, but No. 1 it’s my job to protect my guys and make sure they’re getting the correct information. Try to facilitate as much as I can, try to be involved in the discussions that goes on between my guys and the college coaches just so they’re not being told something that’s not accurate.”
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With Twitter and Instagram essentially giving players their own news feeds, recruiting information has never been more readily available.
That goes for coaches, fans, reporters — and other players.
Check out the timeline of any major recruit and you will see announcements whenever they receive an offer, posts that receive lots of likes and retweets.
But that also can create pressure on players who are left to wonder when their offer from School X (or, in some cases, any school) might be coming.
Krause said he tries to instill in his players the knowledge scholarship offers are much more than something to brag about on social media.
“I talk to my kids a lot about humility and being honored they have this opportunity. There’s a lot of people who would love to be in your shoes,” he said. “They count offers, and I understand you want to tweet those things and I do as well, but I think it’s big to let guys know that’s (college coaches’) job, they’re offering you guys, it’s not a game, it’s not a token.”
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