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Dick Harmon: Geoff Martzen is latest hire in BYU football recruiting efforts

Published: Thursday, Aug. 27 2015 4:17 p.m. MDT

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall talks about his 2011 football recruiting class  Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Provo, Utah.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News)
 (Tom Smart, Deseret News) BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall talks about his 2011 football recruiting class Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Provo, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

This is the third in a series of columns analyzing new faces involved in BYU football recruiting.

Geoff Martzen recently accepted an offer from Bronco Mendenhall to become BYU football’s player personnel and on-campus recruiting coordinator. So, what exactly does that mean?

First of all, that title is new, hatched at BYU as NCAA legislation has evolved. The position splits up the duties of other staff members.

Generally speaking, recruiting coordinators have been full-time position coaches who performed daily duties with players but could recruit prospects on and off campus. Personnel directors sometimes take on some job duties alongside a director of football operations, a non-coaching job that tackles everything ranging from summer camps, recruit visits and hotel arrangements to team meals, transportation, pro days and travel per diem.

A recruiting coordinator manages everything from NCAA-mandated call logs and recruit travel plans to ever-increasing strategies with social media, texting, Internet communications/research, Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram. Regular recruiting coordinators at BYU in past years have been Joe Dupaix, who was preceded by Paul Tidwell, who took over for Mike Empey, who followed Chris Pella. All those guys coached on the field. Martzen will not.

At Utah, Kyle Whittingham uses various staffers to cover recruiting assignments, including his brother, personnel director Fred Whittingham, his assistant Pablo Cano, director of football operations Jeff Rudy and recruiting coordinator Morgan Scalley, a position coach.

Pending the outcome of current NCAA legislation, BYU has not named a full-time coach as a recruiting coordinator to replace Dupaix, who was not re-hired for 2013.

According to BYU, some of Martzen’s primary responsibilities include: identification of prospects, on-campus recruiting events (planning), social media for recruiting, and recruiting aids for coaches. He will also work alongside Patrick Hickman, BYU’s high school relations coordinator, who has similar recruiting responsibilities.

To present an idea of what goes into a recruiting coordinator's job description, this is a glimpse at some of the duties for that position at Morehead State in 2008:

• Establishes staff recruiting areas and responsibilities.

• Compiles recruiting list from coaches, service, etc.

• Completes all forms and letters in regards to visits, tickets, etc. with compliance/athletic staff.

• Tracks NCAA Clearinghouse list as it pertains to initial eligibility.

• Compiles and submits pass list for recruiting days.

• Processes proper paperwork for official visits (with) staff.

• Secures lodging for prospective student athletes on official visits.

• Maintains up-to-date records on all incoming freshmen.

• Keeps staff informed of school calendar, activities, events, recruiting calendar and period, test dates, etc. on monthly basis.

• Maintains recruiting phone call log and collects from staff.

Martzen brings to BYU his experience in recruiting operations with Nick Saban at Alabama and Chris Petersen at Boise State. He has also worked as a high school football coach.

Martzen says every school has its battles signing prospects just like BYU. It would be tough, however, to find recruiting challenges at Alabama other than SEC cutthroat warfare.

“Every school in the nation has obstacles or challenges to overcome in recruiting,” said Martzen. “It comes down to marketing your desirable aspects and there are plenty of qualities of BYU that make it a school prospects want to attend.”

So, why did Mendenhall hire Martzen and not a former player or coach connected with BYU who needed a job?

“My experience with two great football programs was probably the most appealing quality about me," said Martzen. "I think being a young energetic guy in recruiting is important as well. The ability to relate to recruits is key.”

And what did he learn from Boise State, a program that has been on a tear as a non-BCS entity?

“Boise State is careful about who they bring in and is much more concerned about how they will fit in the school and community than anything else. They try to make sure that Boise State is a great fit for the recruit and that the recruit is a great fit for Boise State.”

One aspect people may not think is a weapon in recruiting is social media. But it is. Texting and tweeting have become the mode of communication for Generation Y and Z.

In part, Martzen was hired because of his familiarity with Internet communications and research. Recruiting coordinators need to comb through information on ESPN, Scout.com, Rivals.com and other recruit and prospect sites as well as organize letters, incoming correspondence and the onslaught of player highlight videos.

Martzen says, “I was active on recruiting social media outlets at both Boise State and Alabama. It's what high school students use today to communicate, so it's vital that we have a presence on all of the different outlets.”

Next: Mark Atuaia brings a unique profile to recruiting as a new hire in Bronco Mendenhall’s revamping of his offensive staff.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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