There's plenty of obstacles for a school to overcome in the recruiting process. Distance from home, early playing time, a winning tradition -- these all can help or hurt a team when it's after a recruit.
Parents are also an obstacle in the recruiting process, and they've always been an important part in developing a relationship on the recruiting trail. Over the past year, however, there have been more instances of parents vocally showing their displeasure when their son picks a certain school.
In the 2012 class, it was the mother of Landon Collins who visually and vocally articulated her anger when her son picked Alabama on live TV at the Under Armour All-America Game.
More recently, Beverly Nkemdiche, the mother of current top-ranked recruit Robert Nkemdiche, has been very blatant with her desire for her son to play his college years at Ole Miss, along side older brother Denzel. The younger Nkemdiche is currently committed to Clemson, and his mother told plenty of reporters about her displeasure with the early selection, and the fact that she hasn't spoken with any coaches at Clemson.
Missouri hasn't found itself in any public battles between the school and a parent, but the coaching staff agrees that involving the parents (or guardians) in the recruiting process is a fine line to walk.
"In all honesty, it depends on the recruit," receivers coach Andy Hill said. "Some kids are kind of independent from their parents, and certainly feel the decision is theirs to be made. A lot of times, the parents feel like because they're the ones going to college, the decision is theirs."
Missouri's staff walks that line, figuring out how involved the parents want to be early in the process. That's aided by going through the first gatekeeper -- the recruit's high school football coach.
"Anytime you get into recruiting, the parents are extremely important, but the coach is, too," cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford said. "If you can include those three in the process, it's going to help your success."
Ford referred to getting close with a recruit's "inner circle" as the most important part of the recruiting process. Both Hill and offensive coordinator David Yost agreed, although they didn't use that exact term.
"You want to be around as many of the decision-making helpers -- coaches, parents, grandparents -- that you can be around," Hill said. "Becuase they have insight and knowledge and can help with what you're trying to get done. You can also find out a lot about the individual, as well."
Still, it's a fine-line to walk. As a staff is getting to know a recruit, it also has to spend even more time getting to know those around the recruit. All three coaches said they haven't been a part of a recruitment where they didn't have some contact with a parent or guardian early in the process. Yost said the importance of getting close with parents can't be understated, but it's for a different reason than many would think.
"It's not always that they'll make the decision, but they'll stop their son from making another decision," Yost said. "I don't think it's often where a parent will tell their son to go to this school, but sometimes they'll say, 'I don't think you should go to this school.' They can eliminate people."
A pride-point for Missouri's recruiting strategy continues to be the family-like atmosphere that surrounds the program. Enough recruits have mentioned that at the time of their commitment to know it's working in some regards. The staff tries to extend that atmosphere to the parents of recruits, as well.
"These coaches are going to be the next step in raising their child," Yost said. "They worked really hard to raise their child to the point he's at, and they want that to continue. They want good people around him, all parents do, and I think that's building relationships and building trust so they feel comfortable that you're going to call, keep them informed of social or academic issues that may arise. They need to trust you to do that."
This isn't to say that Missouri's recruiting always goes seamlessly. Far from it. There have been situations where the staff feels some pushback from the parents of recruits. In those cases, Yost said the staff's job is to continue to recruit the player, even if the parents may be negative about Missouri.
Yost said he remembers one instance clearly where the staff didn't think it would have a chance with a recruit because of his parents.
"The one that stands out to me is when we recruited Chase Coffman," Yost said about Missouri's former All-America tight end. "There were many days when we thought Paul Coffman would let his son come to Missouri."
As the recruitment continued, Yost saw it wasn't that Paul Coffman didn't like Missouri. Instead, he was being protective and checking everything over -- doing his due diligence.
"The questions he asked, the constant on Coach Hill -- I know Coach Hill was like, 'There's no way he's coming to Missouri,'", Yost remembered.
In the end, Chase Coffman did sign with Missouri, and the staff's persistance paid off.
Clemson appears to be in a tough sitatuion with Nkemdiche at this point, as it has to win over Mom in addition to keeping the recruit happy. For Missouri's staff, that's always been a goal from the get-go.
"You've got to recruit mom, you've got to recruit dad, and you've got to recruit the high school coach, in addition to the player," Ford said.
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