College coaches often say the best recruiters are the players already on the team and those verbally committed to the program. Ohio State recruit Damon Webb and his fellow future Buckeyes are doing their part with a unique approach.
Webb, one of seven players verbally committed to Ohio State for the 2014 class, has launched a website to promote Ohio State, share recruiting stories and, most importantly, get others to play for the Scarlet and Gray. The site, 2014bucks.com, launched Wednesday with the mission to "recruit and have fun."
"We will share on and off the field stuff, our path to national signing day, our senior football seasons, and our upcoming visits to Columbus," the site reads. "We are champions and we are recruiting champions to help us win national championships! Are you the next Buck?"
Webb, a defensive back from Detroit, was the second recruit to verbally to commit to Ohio State back in January. After returning from a 7-on-7 combine earlier this month near Chicago, Webb told his parents he wanted to do something to bring together his recruiting class and hopefully add to it. Webb’s father, Damon, said Webb had watched how Michigan 2013 recruit Shane Morris, a quarterback from nearby Warren, Mich., had maximized Twitter and Facebook to connect with other recruits.
“I was like, ‘Social media’s where it’s at,’” Webb’s mom, Stephanie, told ESPN.com on Thursday. “I design websites, so I said, ‘Why don’t I make you guys a website?’”
Damon Jr. liked the idea and Stephanie, who teaches Web design and technology at the University of Detroit, began setting up a basic site. Before publishing anything, Stephanie Webb reached out to Mark Pantoni, Ohio State's director of player personnel, to make sure the site would be NCAA compliant. Pantoni, who informed head coach Urban Meyer of the site, gave it the green light, noting that none of the staff members can participate on it because of NCAA rules.
Stephanie finished the main page Wednesday and told her husband, who "jumped the gun" by mentioning the site on his Twitter page. Some of the other Buckeye commits didn't know about the site until it went live.
"They were probably shocked," Damon Sr. said with a laugh.
The site includes pictures of all seven Ohio State commits -- noting the order in which they committed -- and then asks, "Who is next?" The Webbs also launched a Twitter page on Wednesday that already has more than 700 followers.
"I didn't know it would get this reaction," Stephanie Webb said.
Damon Webb Jr. and the other Buckeye commits will post more content in the coming days and manage the site. Recruiting tends to bring out the worst in college football fans, so to prevent trolling, Stephanie will approve any comment before it goes live to the site.
Damon Sr. says the site allows the Ohio State commits to "show their togetherness and try to recruit other guys who are still on the fence." It also reinforces the commitment for Damon Jr., the subject of rumors about possibly flipping to archrival Michigan.
"That's still kind of going around," Damon Sr. said. "A lot of people that think he might decommit from Ohio State. I felt like if they saw this, they'll see he's pretty steadfast."
While Ohio State recruits take to the Web, a Michigan recruit is going the apparel route to promote the program for the 2014 class. Linebacker commit Michael Ferns in February created Project 135, where he sends out blue T-shirts to each new Wolverines recruit.
"As commits wear the shirts to events, we'll get the attention of other potential recruits who may not have been looking towards Michigan at first," Ferns wrote on his Twitter page.
It'll be interesting to see if these recruit-driven marketing campaigns become a national trend. You know coaches won't stand in the way.
"The recruiting game," Stephanie Webb said, "is changing."