College football recruiting is a digital game nowadays. Coaches find and scout some recruits solely on Hudl. They DM with recruits on Twitter, in addition to the texting and calling they’ve done for years. And when it comes time to close the deal and get a commitment, programs aim to be as good at Photoshop as they are at football.
That’s not an exaggeration! Every program has graphic designers on staff, and many of them are excellent. Clemson’s advanced social media presence, bolstered by those graphic folks, has become a huge part of how the Tigers sell themselves.
On Wednesday’s Early Signing Day, every program had graphics ready to roll out on Twitter as soon as players faxed in their National Letters of Intent.
Lots of them have animations, but the main thing is just to look cool, like this ...
... and this, for example:
But two OSUs, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, know the way to every recruit’s heart: video games.
Recruits love video games. Love. They’re like many of the rest of us. Almost all of them are obsessed with Fortnite. If you ask one of them to run through his favorite play calls and dynasty-building strategies in the old NCAA Football games, he’ll really get going, even though he was 13 when the last version of that game came out.
The coolest recruiting graphics of the Early Signing Day, as far as I’m concerned, are the ones that deal with this recruit passion. Here’s Oklahoma State capitalizing on one of the biggest games of this moment, Red Dead Redemption II:
The fonts are the thing, both with player names and this general branding. Compare how Oklahoma State’s graphics looked to the actual Red Dead logo:
Meanwhile, Ohio State greeted its new signees by going into even more (and more custom) detail, creating them in an old NCAA Football game and having them make great plays:
And then, the full class treatment:
Some credit there must go to Austin Peay’s graphics from the cycle prior, which used Create A Player and everything:
It’s hard to stand out in a field where 129 other FBS teams are trying hard to be the most creative of the bunch. But the two OSUs accomplished it by tapping into what players love in 2018 and also what happens to look this fresh.