Los Angeles (Calif.) Pierce College tight end Beau Sandland picked up well over twenty offers during the recruiting process and recently narrowed his list down to five schools.
"I just narrowed it down. I'll be attending either Oklahoma, Nebraska, Miami, Texas Tech, or Arizona State. I've been to ASU unofficially about three times, and I've been to Nebraska and Oklahoma. In November, I'm going to Miami and in December, I'll be visiting Texas Tech," he said.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound prospect has taken the process seriously and continued to explore each of the programs.
"There are a lot of things that go into the decision making process, but if I had no narrow it down, the top ones would be position coaches, because that's somebody you spend a lot of time with in meetings and in practice. You essentially spend more time with your position coach than you do with any other coach: offensive coordinator, head coach or anything, so that's really important. Another thing is the school's offense; I want to go to a school that uses the tight end, especially at the passing game. Not just somewhere where you are run blocking all the time.
"I'm also looking for a school where I can come in and play right away. Being a junior college kid, I've only got two years to play, so I don't have much time to waste. I need to be able to step in on Day 1. Finally, somewhere where I feel comfortable, where I have a good relationship with the staff and the players. I'll know it, I'll know where the place is when the times comes," he said.
For Sandland, one of the best parts of the recruiting process has been the opportunity to form relationships with coaching staffs; he's maintained strong relationships with the tight ends coaches at each of his top five programs.
"I have a really good relationship with Chip Long, the tight end coach at Arizona State. I talk with him probably more frequently than I do with any other coach on any team. Vince Marrow, the tight ends coach at Nebraska, is someone else I have a good relationship with. Bruce Kittle at Oklahoma, Brennan Carroll at Miami, and Sunny Cumbie at Texas Tech.
"You talk to the offensive coordinators and the head coaches, but not nearly as much as you do the tight ends coaches, so that's one of the best parts of the recruiting process, building those relationships. That's also the hard part; when it comes down to it at the end of the day, you're only going to be able to go to one school, so you have to make those calls to the guys you've known for months and months. With a lot of them you've been out to their campuses, met their families, they've come out here, met my mom, but you're only going to be able to make one team happy," he said.
Though none of his former teammates play for any of those five programs, Sandland has also enjoyed meeting players from those teams and getting their perspectives.
"When you go on the visits you have a host, meet some of the guys, and develop relationships. You keep in contact and talk with them time to time; it's always good to get a player's perspective, because at most places you go to, the players will be straight up with you. You get to talk to someone who's your same age, who is in the same boat as you and went through the recruiting process. It's cool to build those relationships," he said.
Once Sandland takes his final two visits, he'll most likely narrow his list down again before making his ultimate decision.
"I'll probably narrow it down to three; I'm an organized person, so I like making it as easy as possible. I can't narrow it down to a top three until I've visited these last two schools. I might go to one and be blown out of the water. I'll probably narrow it down in early to mid December, and then Juco Signing Day is December 19th, though you can sign any time until January 15th," he said.
It's important to Sandland that, regardless of where he ends up, he will arrive to campus in January in order to participate in spring football.
"That's the plan; it has always been the plan to be an early enrollee so I can go through spring ball. That's a huge thing. If you miss spring ball, you are really behind the ball because all you have is summer. You come in and you have guys who have been there maybe two, three years and know the offense better. It's hard to catch up when you miss spring ball, so that's been the plan since day one. I'm still on course do that. Coach Martinez and the counselors here have done a great job helping me out with everything," he said.
What makes Sandland unique? The first thing that comes to mind is pretty obvious: his size.
"I think the most obvious answer is my size mismatch. I feel like I'm too big if they put a safety or a corner on me to cover me and I feel I'm too fast for linebackers, so that creates a lot of problems and mismatches for the defense. I think that's probably the biggest contributing factor," he said.
Now that he's played with the Brahmas for two seasons, helping the team improve from 3-7 to 8-2, Sandland can see an improvement in his performance on the field.
"Whenever somebody gets comfortable on the field, like they've reached the point where they are as good as they can be, it's a big red flag. One of the things I was really trying to work on was my run blocking, and I feel like I improved on that from last year, but every aspect of the game, like route running, and lining up at different positions. The coaches have done that so I could do a lot of different things on offense, so that always helps," he said.