ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Even within the last few years, the recruiting landscape has changed dramatically with advancements in the Internet and social media. Obviously the main topics have been about college coaches contacting recruits, fans selling their alma mater, or even bashing recruits for not choosing their school.
However, there is another topic discussed sparingly about recruiting and social media: How mediums such as Twitter and Facebook have helped create closer bonds between recruits committed to the same school who in some cases have never even met.
Before social media, the only interaction a prospect in California had with a future teammate in Ohio was over the phone. Now recruits can see pictures, type 140 characters and send out a message, or even video call through Skype or ooVoo.
"It's made it a lot easier to communicate with other commits," Michigan commit Erik Magnuson (Carslbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) said. "I think it's kept us closer, because it's an easy way for us to all stay in touch."
One could even argue that social media might play a role in keeping prospects committed to their respective schools. Building a close-knit recruiting class filled with guys who know each other well can create a positive environment where commits already feel as though they are a part of the team.
Michigan, for example, had all but three of the current commitments secured by the middle of August. That leaves a good amount of time for other programs to recruit those prospects, eyes to wander, and doubt to creep into a prospect's mind.
Michigan has lost three prospects in this class so far, but arguably only one of them was because of wandering eyes: Tight end Pharaoh Brown (Lyndhurst, Ohio/Brush) took a visit to Oregon, and the Wolverines stopped recruiting him.
With a class of 23 prospects, those are pretty good odds, and that's not to say that social media is the reason the Wolverines have held onto their prospects. Certainly tradition, the coaching staff, the winning season, and everything else is first. But social media has played a role in keeping the commitments feeling like they are already teammates.
"It's good because it gives us a good chance to talk to more people, and actually get to know them other than just talking on the phone," Wolverines commit Kyle Kalis (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) said.
A few of the Michigan commitments even were discussing potential roommate options on Twitter.
Social media also has been used as a recruiting tool by the Michigan commits.
2013 quarterback Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) probably has been the most active recruiter through Twitter and Facebook. Magnuson was public about recruiting his friend, offensive lineman Joshua Garnett (Puyallup, Wash./Puyallup), as well.
"It makes it easier and quicker to recruit other guys," Morris said.
Even if prospects haven't met or live across the country they are still able to communicate and talk about their list of suitors.
The way prospects are able to communicate has opened up a whole new type of recruiting process. The commitments and targets can find out immediately how visits went, send short quick recruiting pitches, or get to know their future roommate's tastes.
It seems as though this incoming class for Michigan is a tight-knit group, and they haven't even set foot on campus yet. While a lot of that has to do with the type of people the Michigan coaches have recruited, it also has to do with their constant interaction through social media. That head-start in building chemistry could even help them when it comes time to hit the playing field.
Tom VanHaaren has covered Michigan recruiting since 2008. He can be reached at TomVHESPN@gmail.com or on Twitter @TomVH.