X&O Labs’ Exclusive Interview With Tim Brewster: One of College Football’s Most Accomplished Recruiters
Ask most coaches what they know about Tim Brewster and they’ll tell you the guy could recruit. The former head coach at the University of Minnesota from 2007-2010 worked previously on staffs headed by Marty Schottenheimer, Mack Brown and Mike Shanahan and is credited for inking some of college football’s top talents like Chris Simms and Vince Young. Currently on a hiatus from coaching, Brewster spent over an hour with X&O Labs Mike Kuchar revealing his little-known methods for landing top recruits.
MK: What is the most important aspect a recruiter must have?
TB: First and foremost, you better have passion for recruiting. There are so many coaches in college football that don’t enjoy the process of recruiting and it’s evident in their results. You must take recruiting personally. If I lost a kid it was hard on me because I was so invested in every kid I’ve recruited. You have to find a way to get the kid to say "yes" or more importantly you’re trying to develop a relationship with a young guy so he can’t tell you "no."
For example, when I was at North Carolina in the mid 1990’s I was recruiting a kid named Omar Brown out of York, Pennsylvania. York was in the backyard of Penn State and State College cleaned house up there. When it came down to his decision time, I remember calling him in a hotel that night, and he said to me "Coach Brew, I need to call you back." The reason why he needed to do that is because he knew he couldn’t tell me "no." In his heart, he wanted to go to Penn State, which was his dream growing up. But I had developed such a great relationship with Omar through the process so he couldn’t say no so we got him. Now, he’s spent time in the NFL.
MK: Tell me what you did to make that young man not want to tell you "no."
TB: It’s all about your ability to communicate with young people and how you build a relationship with them. The bottom line is does a kid enjoy talking to you? Some coaches will call these kids and have a five-minute conversation asking how many touchdowns the kid scored last Friday night? There is no real juice to the conversation. Do you utilize the new ways of recruiting with Twitter, Facebook and so forth? So many coaches are resistant to do that. You have to be involved in that to have a chance at a kid.
MK: How did you sell it to your staff to be involved in Facebook and Twitter?
TB: I tried to lead by example. I told my guys that I had a great deal of success recruiting and I put myself right in the middle of it. We all fed off each other. We had a saying at the University of Minnesota in recruiting. We said "24/7/365" and that’s how we felt about recruiting. We recruited every single day of the year. Some schools met once a week, on Thursday, to talk about recruiting until you get into the recruiting season. We met and talked about recruiting every single day. So my guys were well versed in using all the different methods of recruiting.
The thing you have to do is find a way to make your deal different. The number one best way to recruit is to use a hand written letter. Kids love a hand written letter. I would tell our staff, "today guys, we’re going to write 200 love letters." Everybody on the staff is going to write ten of these today. If kids get a letter that’s typed, half the time they don’t even read them. You got to make a connection by writing a hand written note. It’s what I did with Chris Simms when I was at Texas. On the front part of the letter, I’d draw a cloud with the number two on it. Then I would draw a Texas jersey with his number on the front. On the back, I’d put Simms on the back. It’s about building something that is personal, and connecting with those kids.
I recruited Vince Young to Texas and I developed an amazing relationship with him in the process. I love him like a son. His story was amazing. He had a tough home life. It came down to Vince taking the visit to Texas on his official. Vince and I were in the locker room area during a basketball game talking with basketball coach Rick Barnes. Before the game, we get to the floor level and the crowd saw Vince and 15,000 people were on their feet chanting "We want Vince." It was an amazing moment for the both of us. As we left the court, I can see tears running out of his eyes. He looked at me and said, "Coach, this is home. This is where I need to be." He committed that weekend. Moments like that are special, you don’t get that back.
MK: How would you utilize this personal approach while recruiting hundreds of players?
TB: What I would do is "build a fence" around my entire recruiting area. My mindset is "I own this area." If there is a great player in this area, I’m going to get him. Now the reality is you’re not going to get them all. But your mindset should not change. I’m going to know every high school coach.
MK: What was your protocol when walking into a building to see a kid you were recruiting?
TB: The first thing I would do is walk in and ask to see the principal. I wanted to meet he pri