Recruiting process has changed over the years

College start recruiting younger players

Thirty years ago, Chris Hentges was about to enter his senior football season at Helias High School. He accepted a scholarship to play at Iowa State.

Fifteen years ago, Phil Pitts was heading into his senior season at Helias. He later received a scholarship at Missouri.

Hentges and Pitts had front-row seats as Hale Hentges went through his recruiting process that ended with him accepting an offer to attend Alabama.

Things have definitely changed.

“Everything is so accelerated now,” Chris Hentges, Hale’s father and the offensive coordinator at Helias, said. “Back when I was playing, recruiting started in your senior season.”

Pitts, now the Helias head football coach, echoed those sentiments.

“It’s so much sooner, everything is done earlier,” he said. “There’s pressure to get things done earlier, it can be challenging on the kids.”

Pitts knew Hale Hentges was a talented player coming into high school. Hentges’ first camp at Helias also was the first for assistant coaches Lorenzo Williams and Brandon Coleman, both former Missouri players themselves.

They had been around talented players and knew one when they saw one.

“Coming in fresh, they didn’t know anybody,” Pitts said. “They came in off the field, they both said that was a different type player.”

College coaches also noticed. Hentges received five NCAA Division I scholarship offers after that freshman season. The recruiting pressure only got more intense from there,

“There probably wasn’t a day that Hale didn’t think about it 10-15 times and that can wear on you,” his father said.

Hale Hentges made nearly 30 unofficial recruiting visits in the past two-plus years. And as his stock rose among football programs, it also did among recruiting media outlets.

“It wasn’t just the time at the schools, plus the travel time, it was having to do things like interviews after he got back,” Chris said. “There would be five or six interview requests from recruiting reporters after each trip.

“Recruiting has turned into a big business for a lot of people.”

With Sunday’s announcement, Hale Hentges can turn his full attention to his senior season at Helias.

“I knew Hale wanted to focus on making his decision and have the chance to enjoy his senior year and accomplish what we want to accomplish,” Pitts said.

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