It’s no secret Bobby Petrino didn’t always give it his all on the recruiting trail, especially when it came to elite in-state talent. As Petrino’s second tenure grew longer at Louisville, top-level prospects within a 100 mile radius seemed to opt elsewhere at an alarming rate.
During that time period, one former high-level local talent told KSR the former Louisville head coach was easily one of the worst recruiters he had come in contact with during the recruiting process, and it was a big reason he opted to attend college elsewhere.
“He wouldn’t get off his couch to come talk to me,” he said. “Why would I even consider Louisville?”
When his recruitment ramped up and a decision crept closer, Louisville was one of the first schools cut from the recruit’s final list.
And it seems to be a recurring theme with other in-state talent such as Stephen Herron Jr., Milton Wright, Demontae Crumes, JJ Weaver, Shawn’Kel Knight Goff, Jared Casey, Rondale Moore, and Tahj Rice in the past two years alone. There’s a hotbed of talent, but almost none of them are opting to stay home and play at Louisville.
This afternoon, Jason Frakes of the Courier-Journal investigated Petrino’s old recruiting efforts and how new Louisville football coach Scott Satterfield has pledged to change that narrative.
Satterfield said during his introductory press conference that the school’s “doors are open” going forward, meaning high school coaches and players are welcome to visit at any time and he would return that deserved attention to in-state prospects in the immediate future.
Frakes interviewed some local head coaches about what that means to them, and the responses were pretty telling.
Moore High School head coach Rob Reader shared a similar story to the one KSR heard a while back, saying Petrino never went out of his way to see one of the state’s best pass-rushers over the last several years, Kentucky’s latest commitment JJ Weaver.
“Bobby Petrino never came to our school and we have a four-star defensive end that everybody in the country was after,” Reader said. “He never took the time to drive 10 miles to our school. To hear the new coach opening that back up and being willing to share and build bridges and fix that PR is great. I’m excited for it.”
Male head coach Chris Wolfe said the difference between Charlie Strong and Petrino was night and day. While Strong invited coaches out for beer and pizza to help develop a personal relationship with each of them, Petrino stayed distant.
“Charlie Strong was very accessible,” Wolfe said. “Charlie Strong called me personally three different times, and he had his (defensive coordinator) over here every spring, no matter what, even if we didn’t have kids. He called and offered use of his facility when we were getting ready for a state championship and the weather was terrible. That goes a long way in building relationships and getting high school coaches to feel like the local colleges care about you — not just for your kids but for your program.”
With Satterfield and his promise to turn things around with local talent, Ballard coach Adrian Morton said he’s interested to see how recruiting battles will be going forward.
“It’s important to build a fence around the city,” Morton said. “I’m interested to see how the recruiting battles between Kentucky and Louisville go now.”
It’s been fun stealing away local talent such as Weaver, Crumes, Knight Goff, and likely Casey tomorrow, but the competition hasn’t quite been there from the Cardinal coaching staff over the past few years.
Let’s see what happens with the new administration.