Bielema’s Personality Attracts Recruits
By Anthony Richards
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The success Bret Bielema exhibited while at Wisconsin proves he has what it takes to become a successful coach in the SEC.
Bret Bielema has a record of 68-24 during his seven years as a head coach.
Naturally, a record as impressive as Bielema's embodies success, and after accepting the Arkansas head coaching job, he is now presented with the challenge of convincing an entirely new region of recruits to trust in his system.
After spending all seven years at Wisconsin, Bielema brings with him the track record of three consecutive Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl trips.
Bielema built up relationships throughout the Midwest and now must develop similar relationships with the high school coaches and recruits of the southern region.
According to Richard Davenport, recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, there is most likely an adjustment to be made due to the fact that Bielema is recruiting a region that he is not as familiar with, and that adjustment has been made through his assistant coaching hires.
“He did a good job with the staff, making sure that they had some ties to the south, and I think it’s not going to be a huge adjustment,” Davenport said.
In Bielema’s short time at Arkansas, he has already become known as a “player’s coach” and someone who has become very welcoming to recruits and current players, which can become a helpful tool in recruiting.
“Your best recruiters are your players, and he cares about them and that reflects well when kids come on campus,” Davenport expressed. “There are some seniors that wish they had more time to play under this staff.”
According to Davenport, when a recruit comes to visit the university, Bielema likes for the entire coaching staff to be there during their visit.
Arkansas’ coaches are currently spread out on recruiting trips, but as they return to Fayetteville, the Razorbacks' 2014 recruiting class should add to its four current commits and pick up some momentum heading into the summer.
The Razorbacks currently have four verbal commitments for the 2014 recruiting class, two of which - defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson (El Dorado, Ark.) and quarterback Rafe Peavey (Bolivar, Mo.) - are four-star recruits according to Rivals.com.
“They’re not afraid to recruit against anybody, and they’ve shown that during this 2014 class,” Davenport continued. “He’s such a good communicator, it doesn’t matter if he’s up north, west, east, south, wherever, he can relate to people real well.”
Bielema has shown the ability and willingness to look outside his recruiting base for players such as running back Alex Collins (Plantation, Fla.) and offensive lineman Reeve Koehler (Honolulu, Hawaii), while also convincing recruits like tight end Hunter Henry (Little Rock, Ark.) to stay at home.
The success Bielema exhibited while at Wisconsin proves he has what it takes to become a successful coach in the SEC, but half the battle in the SEC is recruiting the players needed to win titles.
It seems that Bielema is becoming more aware of what it takes to win over recruits against the proven commodities of Nick Saban, Mark Richt, and Les Miles. Come this fall, he will have the more difficult challenge of beating them on the field.