June is typically the biggest month of recruiting for the BYU football program. The initial contacts, film evaluations, and background checks with coaches and family come to a crescendo with the camps this month.
Camps allow coaches to do a thorough and sometimes final evaluation of players. The BYU staff puts a lot of faith in its camp evaluations, and subsequently 51 of the 146 players Coach Bronco Mendenhall has signed since his first full recruiting year in 2006, have committed in June or the first two weeks of July.
Heading the recruitment efforts this month is assistant coach Joe DuPaix, hired as the recruiting coordinator in January. He welcomes the challenges and opportunities that come with his position.
“Every day I get fired up just to come to work,” DuPaix said. “Now that we’re getting the chance to get all those kids we’ve been evaluating on campus and to just keep it rolling, I’m just very, very excited to get it going.”
“Excited” is the best word to describe DuPaix. Since the moment he joined the Cougar coaching staff, he’s brought an energy to their efforts that was praised by Mendenhall during spring practice session.
“I haven’t seen him walk yet,” Mendenhall quipped. “The guy, he’s full speed all the time. In staff meeting, getting him to sit down is quite a chore.”
For DuPaix, the excitement comes naturally as he loves every part of being a football coach. The recruiting coordinating responsibilities he’s taken on seem to be a good fit.
“Recruiting has been going great,” he said. “Recruiting is an ongoing battle each and every day to find the best players to come and play for you, and we have a great group of guys going out to find the right players, and the right fit to come and play here for BYU. There’s a lot of good energy with our recruiting right now.”
DuPaix took over the recruiting coordinator responsibilities from assistant coach Paul Tidwell and he’s quick to credit his predecessor for a lot of his early success.
“Coach Tidwell has done a phenomenal job,” DuPaix said. “He’s been able to share a lot of things with me about the process and the protocol we use here at BYU and continues to educate me. He continues to be a great recruiter for our football program, and he’s been a great resource for me.”
Recruiting at BYU isn’t the same as other programs. There are certain standards inherent within the BYU honor code that players must agree to abide by if they hope to be part of the sports programs. DuPaix became familiar with finding the right fit when he followed the strict criteria while coaching at Navy.
“Every single school has its own niche,” he said. “I don’t look at it as a challenge and as a problem because at BYU, we know exactly what we’re looking for in a student-athlete. If that student doesn’t meet all the criteria that we’re looking for, then it’s going to be hard for that person to find success here at BYU. So our biggest challenge is to go out and spend the man hours to find the right kids.”
Fans often learn of recruits only when they’ve publicized their commitments or signed letters of intent. However, it’s not something that just happens as coaches spend an incredible amount of time identifying the right players and convincing them to join the program.
“It’s not something that I or anyone else could put a time limit on with how much time we spend recruiting because it never ends,” DuPaix said. “Every single day, we’re doing something to find the right players, learn more about them, and then try to get them here to BYU. It’s a bit like marriage. You want to find the best match you can possibly find and get married, and then have a great relationship. You want to find someone you love and someone that loves you and wants to be a part of your program and loves everything that you’re about. When you find those fits, that’s when you’re going to be successful.”
While camps aid any coaching staff, DuPaix recognizes it takes outside help and referrals to find the right prospects.
“We don’t necessarily know about each and every LDS kid out there that is athletic,” he said. “There’s no huge database with that information, so referrals are huge. If there’s a kid out there, anywhere, that is believed to be a good fit, then we love to be contacted. And it’s certainly not just LDS kids we want to know about. We’re looking for the best football players with the standards we have here at BYU, so whether that kid is LDS or not isn’t the question; it’s if the kid simply has the standards to play here. Recruiting is our lifeblood, and if you don’t get the right fits within your football program, then you’re in a lot of trouble.”