Herd recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Todd Hartley said proper recruiting is a longer process. The recruiting sites are good for lists to help coaches find players. Highlight videos help, too, but watching full game film helps even more.
"It's easy to watch somebody's highlights, but what's he doing when he's not making plays?" Hartley said. "Is he walking his butt back to the huddle? Is he complaining on the sidelines that he's not getting the ball enough?"
Yet it's face-to-face evaluation, the act of watching the player in person, that provides the best results, he said.
"Don't go, 'Oh, the film's good? Offer him,'" Hartley said. "No, film's good, now let's go confirm what I saw on the film with my own two eyes in person. That takes a little bit of effort and a little bit of work and, sometimes, some people aren't willing to do that. And that's how you bring in bad players and get your butt beat."
Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal said he's the beneficiary of a lot of that careful, diligent recruiting. Chris Jasperse arrived at Marshall as a walk-on who became a first-team all-Conference USA center. Tackle Clint Van Horn was a two-star prospect who became a second-team all-C-USA pick after half a season as a starter. Guard Sebastian Johansson was a two-star prospect who played one year at Raceland High in Kentucky before returning to his native Sweden.
Mirabal's also been on both sides of the recruiting line, spending years as a high school coach in Miami before joining the college ranks at Florida International University.
"All high school coaches, you can go to them and they'll tell you which of the guys do it right and which of the guys recruit off of lists or recruit you because three other schools have offered you," Mirabal said. "You'll see a kid with no offers, then a team in the ACC offers him, and then by the end of the week, everyone else in the ACC has offered him, too. And then you'll see guys that actually go do their homework, that go dig guys out, that actually go find guys."
Marshall has tangible evidence that its recruiting strategy has worked. A Thundering Herd player has won at least a share of the C-USA freshman of the year award the last two seasons. The Herd placed five freshmen onto the 2013 conference all-freshman team - offensive lineman Michael Selby, defensive lineman Gary Thompson, defensive backs A.J. Leggett and Corey Tindal and linebacker Stefan Houston.
"It just confirms that we're doing things the right way," Hartley said. "There's a right way and a wrong way to do things, and as far as talent evaluation, we're doing it the right way, I believe. And that starts at the top with Coach Holliday and down to the staff. It takes effort. It takes time, effort and work, and this staff does it."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.