Ole Miss assistant baseball coaches Mike Clement and Carl Lafferty said the coronavirus presented the recruiting process with several challenges. During the pandemic, the process has relied on technology to recruit future Rebels, furthering the need for phone calls, livestreams and video recordings to evaluate recruits’ abilities.
Since the NCAA has suspended coaches from traveling for in-person recruiting through Aug. 31, Lafferty, the pitching coach, said they have had to rely more heavily on watching players via their highlight reels. Before the restrictions, Lafferty recorded games in person. Now, the players are recording themselves and sending the video to him.
“Essentially, we are having to wear out the phones,” Lafferty said. “When you are watching it live, a lot of times — with the power of the iPhone — we will take some video. Then, we will look at some side views and behind the plate views. Then, go to my iPhone and break it down a little bit that way. It has been a little bit easier from that standpoint.”
Despite the coaches spending their summers in Oxford, they both feel confident in their upcoming recruiting class.
Still, Clement, the hitting coach, said he believes there are many aspects to a prospective player that a video or livestream does not fully display.
“There is so much that goes into baseball from an intangible standpoint,” Clement said. “(There are) things you want to watch a guy do that you can’t see. (It’s hard) just watching them take an at-bat from a screen.”
The coaches said they also prefer watching the whole team to look for new players, but watching livestreams makes this a more difficult task.
“Sometimes, there is a player you just happen to see play,” Lafferty said. “Sometimes, no one has recommended the heck out of them or tried to sell them to you. Maybe I have seen this kid play 10 times because I watch the team a good bit, or there are other players on this team that I have been recruiting. I get really in tune with this guy.”
In order to garner interest in the university’s program, Ole Miss Sports Productions produces numerous game videos and has a Youtube series titled “The Season.” Clement said this form of digital media gives potential prospects what life as a Rebel baseball player looks like.
“The advantage of Ole Miss is that our video department is so good and does a good job of documenting our seasons and game day, and we are really lucky that way,” Clement said. “Those guys we are recruiting are able to see that and get a pretty good look at what our program is all about through video.”
Though there is no set date as to when recruiting and visits will continue, for now, the Ole Miss baseball program is excited to get these players to Oxford.