The Beginner's Guide To College Football Recruiting: A Glossary

Star recruit Mario Edwards. Photo by Bud Elliott, SB Nation.

What's a soft verbal? What's it mean to be loose in the hips? If you're a high-waisted road-grader with ankle flexibility who projects as a safety, is that a good thing? Time to brush up on your recruiting terminology.

With National Signing Day just around the corner (February 1st), you may need a refresher on college football recruiting lingo. Tom Luginbill and other experts speak in a patois all their own, a code heavy on "arm talent," "thickness," "dead periods," and other casualties of the English language left bleeding in the service of football discourse.

Know the code, reader, and study this informative list of recruiting terms to become an INSIDER and EXPERT like the INSIDER EXPERTS.

Dead Period: This is a period designated by NCAA rules as a time of no contact between interested schools and football recruits. Coaches may only reach recruits by calling on burner phones they change weekly, discussing specifics of payment and/or other remuneration through family members or other third parties, via anonymous internet messaging, or by driving by the house and waving without saying a word.

Quiet Period: Just like the rest of recruiting, but done in a stage whisper for reasons no one can remember or explain.


Previously in the College Football Beginner's Guide series

Official Visit: The recruit's highly controlled and well-monitored official tour of a prospective university and their athletics program. While the official visit may sound like a thinly veiled attempt to sell the football program through the proxy of the school, the university itself plays a more important role than most. Take these examples from the official Alabama campus tour for incoming recruits:

The recruit will visit all of the following important University of Alabama landmarks prior to completion of their tour.

  • The Campus Laboratory Where Professor Kenny Stabler discovered the process for separating gin from tonic
  • The Joe Namath Building for Studies In Human Sexuality
  • The Paul W. Bryant Museum (this one's real)
  • The Eli Gold School of Bold Enunciation
  • The Brodie Croyle Institute for Male Cosmetology
  • The DuBose Center for Furniture Stress Testing
  • The Albert Means School of Finance
  • The Mike Shula Cafetorium
  • The very squat rack where Dr. Nick Saban discovered gravity, and then defeated it via a 540-pound personal record.

It's about so much more than just football, guys.

Recruiting Host: NOT A PROSTITUTE. We mean this. For the most part, when you see the words "recruiting host," think "former high school student council member." Very into belonging, and identity, and having a bland but excellent resume filled with social club memberships, a passable to excellent academic record, and a kind of general Tracey Flick profile overall (minus the insanity and Reese Witherspoon's cheekbones).

Recruiting hosts are not necessarily female, but are female. If a recruit were gay, they would be male, and impeccably groomed. The further south your recruiting visit goes, the more fearsomely overmade and attractive the recruiting host. Recruiting hosts at Notre Dame may be polished and attractive guides to the myth and legend of the South Bend campus. Recruiting hosts at a place like USC or Auburn are tomorrow's Senatorial wives or Senators themselves, polished charm assassins who will likely not sleep with a recruit, but who will certainly beguile, educate, lobby, and then point the recruit in the direction of a place where the most direct and personal form of recruiting can occur.

You may be tempted to underestimate the recruiting host. Do so at your own risk. They are deadly in their purpose, and will remember any slights or past insults when they reject your child's private school application as a member of the admissions committee.

Prototypical [POSITION]. Fits a certain vaguely accurate profile of success, so much so that we cannot be wrong. Is he six and a half feet tall and 300 pounds with long arms? Well, that's a prototypical offensive tackle. Never mind if he cannot move, is blind in one eye, and compensates holding every play. HE'S PROTOTYPICAL, OKAY. It also helps if the NFL's cookie-cutter approach to scouting is applied at the high school level, because you can't spell "prototypical" without "pro-".

Great Knee Bend. "Knees can bend." A necessary note when kids have started blowing their ACLs at ridiculously young ages. Also a state park in South Dakota of stunning, underrated beauty.

Can Get To Second Level. Played in high school against 160-pound linemen frequently.

Projects As An Athlete. Is most likely a black high school quarterback.

Savvy. Is a slow white quarterback who is being recruited ahead of the black high school quarterback for no reason whatsoever.

Projected As A Safety. Option quarterback whose high school pass attempts can be counted on two hands and one foot.

Elite. Any player we have ever seen tape on, and who agreed to attend our high school all-star game. Also may have a mother who slept with our recruiting guru to get their son an extra couple of stars.

Projects As An Elite Safety. Has a mother whose relationship with the recruiting guru ended somewhat acrimoniously, but he's not bitter, he's just got a lot to work on emotionally in his life right now, and doesn't want you to go away mad, girl, but to just go away.

Ankle Flexibility. Is eighteen years old, and still has enough naturally occurring HGH in his system to make moves that would blow every ligament in a 35-year-old's body simultaneously. Also, may have really flexible ankles.

High-Waisted/High Cut. Has long legs or a really short torso, or perhaps just a really ill-fitting uniform.

Low-Waisted/Low Cut. Is fat.

Long strider. Okay, they're just borrowing words from horse racing now. Loan-words from horse-racing gets into some dangerous territory, but there are a few terms from horse-racing that might serve the art of high school recruiting well.

  • Bad actor: a troublesome horse.
  • Bomber: a winner at high odds. (See Drew Brees.)
  • Dead Money: a hopeless horse. (Looking at you, one-star kicker.)
  • Early Foot: raw speed.
  • Hardboot: an old school kind of dude.
  • Late Double: not an exact match, but possible term for the addition of an inferior friend/classmate at the last second to secure a deal for a commitment.
  • Morning Glory: a horse that practices really well, but is terrible on the track. Applies to any number of workout wonders.
  • Pinhooker. Originally the word for a buyer of horses who resells for profit, but a good term for any rogue agent on the loose in a program.
  • Plater: A cheap horse. Walk-ons, ho!

Road-Grader: Is fat, but mean.

Arm Talent: The latest and stupidest way of saying someone can throw a football well. You think this cannot be dumber, but when Tom Luginbill says "He's got real THROWBALLFAR skills" on Signing Day 2013, you'll see we were right in saying we have not reached the bottom of scouting rhetoric yet.

One-cut-and-done Type Of Back. Can shred three ligaments in his knee in a single twitch of his mighty quadriceps.

Good Punch. Likes to hit people in the balls at the line of scrimmage, and in other soft places police know don't leave bruises. If this lineman could beat opponents on the soles of their feet with a phonebook until they wept, they would.

Leaper. Can jump.

Bounder. Can leap.

Jumper. Can bound.

Vaulter. Capable of flight for short periods, like a chicken or a Tajik Airways flight.

Bird. Recruit is actually a bird. Do not recruit. Unless they are a crow or parrot, they cannot read and will be academically ineligible.

Soft Verbal. "I know your school's name, and could possibly locate it on a map."

Hard Verbal. "I am taking an offer from your school, along with no fewer than 14 others."

Excellent Technique. Is either the story of hard work triumphing over a lack of athletic ability, or is a master of the nearly invisible throat-punch delivered just after the snap at the line of scrimmage. Either way, a desirable quality.

Commitment. Has declared your relationship exclusive, and yet still sends sexy texts to other girls. Schools. Whatever, don't make this any weirder than it already is, recruiting season.

Has Good Closing Speed. Leads with the helmet, and connects more often than not. A concussion waiting to happen for someone.

Well-conditioned. Is not obese.

Smart. Has an excellent business arrangement with a local student who understands fake IDs and testing center policies.

Good Frame. Will be placed on a discreet cycle of steroids upon arrival on campus.

Undersized. Will be placed on a shameless cycle of powerful steroids upon arrival on campus, and possibly several more afterwards.

Loose In The Hips. A mysterious attribute either leading to great hip flexibility and increased explosiveness on the field, or to the recruit's legs falling off in the middle of games.

Crisp Route Runner. Actually runs pass routes of defined shape and length. (Note: in England, is a potato chip deliveryman.)

Is Prone To Taking Plays Off. Has fallen asleep mid-play before, and likely still scored a touchdown playing against inferior competition that is a second slower and three inches shorter. Will be on the bench by year two, and will transfer before year three.

Is A Disruptor. Literally has no idea what is going on during a football play, and uses football as a barely concealed vehicle for his not insubstantial rage at the universe. Most frequently coached with the directions "run that way and hit something," and then follows these orders with horrifying results. Will miss blocking assignments, and the cripple someone on the play to make up for his lack of system or order.

Can Play A Hybrid Role. "We have no idea what this person can play on a football field, and have seen no good tape."

Good Motor. A fat lineman with incongruously good conditioning.

Arrives With Bad Intentions. Leads with the helmet and comes exclusively from the blind side of play.

Underrated. "This recruit's mother did not sleep with me or pay me to increase the number of stars for her son, but did give me a nice slice of carrot cake and complimented my sweatshirt."

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