Back Vic Cabral’s Georgia Southern Standard

Vic Cabral’s Georgia Southern Standard

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Long-time assistant Victor Cabral, recently named the Eagles' recruiting coordinator, isn't just pitching Georgia Southern, he is a product of it.

"I have the title, but, to be honest with you, it's a team sport, how we handle recruiting here. Everybody from our on-campus recruiting staff, all of the way up to our head coach and everybody in between."
~Vic Cabral

Georgia Southern's famed legacy has always come down to principles and people. Since the days of Erk Russell, Statesboro has long been a place where working and winning have been closely aligned. If college is where teenagers cross the bridge adulthood, they, if Eagles, slosh through a drainage ditch, instead. The end result, for a program with six national championships and, now, an expanding FBS reputation, is one of the most remarkable stories in college football history. 

With expectations that haven't changed even as the stage has, Georgia Southern, authentic to its past, continues to chase everything the future has to offer. Long-time assistant Victor Cabral, recently named the Eagles' recruiting coordinator, isn't just pitching Georgia Southern, he is a product of it. A four-year starter and team captain for the Eagles, Cabral, playing with the likes of the legendary Adrian Peterson, now the team's director of student-athlete development, won the 2000 national title and four conference championships as a player.

Cabral, in addition to coaching the defensive line, will lead Georgia Southern towards the horizon by helping to hand-pick the roster. The fertile grounds of the Peach State, prep talent in every corner, stand as priority number one. Green fields to red clay, it takes more than talent for a prospect to be ripe for True Blue. 

"You hear in college football and business around the world, the big word right now is 'culture'. And that culture has to be built around really, really great people. It's not necessarily the best players that we are trying to find, but the right players," Cabral nodded. "The right ones that fit our mold and what we are trying to do. Coach Lunsford has a real thought-out plan."

Lunsford pegged Cabral to replace the accomplished Chris Foster, now Georgia Southern's associate head coach, because of both his passion and perspective. Cabral, as a player and in various roles as a coach and administrator, has been instrumental in the program's growth. The vision he has had for his alma mater is the same outlook he has for those who will soon sign; the sky, for the Eagles, is the limit. Nothing is impossible at Georgia Southern, because everything, starting with Russell's bold goals, has been done.   

As Cabral goes out on the road, he is looking for unique players for an inimitable brand.

"Everyone is going to have all of the bells and whistles, the facilities and all of those things. I think what we are looking for is the identity of our town and the character of teams prior and, moving forward, what put Georgia Southern on the map. It's really blue-collar, tough, gritty guys," Cabral detailed. "Yeah, measurables are important. A certain height, weight, athletic ability; I think that stuff is important, but it's not the most important thing. The most important thing is how you carry yourself, your love for the game."

Cabral's selling points are more testimony than tale. He can shake your hand with a fist-full of rings from his Georgia Southern career, wedding band included as his wife Erin was a standout swimmer for the Eagles. While Cabral can show you dozens of pictures of football glory, his academic achievements also come with multiple frames; Cabral has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Georgia Southern. This is a man, often voiceless after practice, whose resume speaks for itself.   

Set to spend much of the next few months on the road, a busy summer schedule largely already set, Cabral isn't the type to visit with brochures and pamphlets. All he needs is conviction.

"People fall in love with Georgia Southern, not just the football stuff, although as great as it is. The thing that separates us is just the people, our community, the town of Statesboro and the region that we are in," Cabral smiled. "It's a great place, it's an easy sell for guys and for parents and what coach Lunsford talks about, the 'GS Man'. That is our goal, to get those kind of guys that not only fit on the field, what we do talent wise, but most importantly, what we're looking for for the locker room and what they are able to bring to the team as a man."

A hot name on the recruiting trail, Georgia Southern has palpable momentum fresh off one of the most dramatic turnarounds college football has ever seen. The Eagles just won ten games, including a walk-off Camellia Bowl victory over Eastern Michigan, have thrived in national television opportunities and have generated a social media buzz with some of Lunsford's affable activities. Simply put, Georgia Southern is a growing brand. 

Lunsford, Cabral and the rest of the Eagle coaches are searching for prospects to add to that energy. Georgia Southern's legacy, history you may not fully understand until you have stepped foot on campus, is an on-going example; Cabral, correspondingly, is looking for more than just measurables. Beyond memories from the media guide, the profile, for future recruits, can be found on the roster of the current team.  

"The plan really stems from our identity with the guys we have right now. We try to fit that mold of guys and bring dudes in here who won't screw it up and set us back. I think everyone is trying to chase the big, fast, strong. Where we can really make our hay is finding the right kind of guy," Cabral explained. "It's tough, the standards to play football here are tough, having only four or five losing seasons in the history of our program and all of the success we have had. It's not for everybody."  

With an impressive track record of working with numerous defensive line standouts over the years, Cabral understands the significance of scouting and development alike. He coached four-time All-American Brent Russell at Georgia Southern, among others, and had three linemen, Raymond Johnson III, Logan Hunt and Ty Phillips, all earn all-conference recognition a season ago. Getting a prospect to sign isn't the end of the recruiting process for Cabral, it's, in some ways, the beginning.

That process, a plan for the individual, is one Cabral has considerable experience with.

"It's more than just the 40s and the height and weight, you've got to build a relationship. At the end of the day, it's got to be a working relationship with how it is on the field. We encourage those guys to get on campus numerous times, with their parents, and come in and get a full-tilt boogie evaluation," he added.  

Cabral and company have specific traits in mind for the Georgia Southern prototype, skills that go well beyond the field. Some of what you need to play for the Eagles can be timed, taped or quantified, some of it can't. Such a full-scale approach can be a meticulous one, considerations Georgia Southern's coaches believe to be critical towards building a winner. After all, it was attitude and athleticism that brought the Eagles a half-dozen national championships.

In terms of game action, a recruit can only be a football player for, at most, 60 minutes a week; the time it takes to realize one's potential is immeasurably more. 

"We're not chasing stars, could care less about them to be honest with you, we are trying to find the guys that are the best fit for us. Trying to put an emphasis on the 'student-athlete' part of it," Cabral continued. "It doesn't matter what direction football goes, I think...I know that football will still be won by dudes who love the game the most and are willing to sacrifice the most and are willing to work the hardest."

The fast-rising Lunsford, entering his second full season as head coach in Statesboro, is settling in perfectly between Georgia Southern's past, present and future. Previously a veteran assistant with the program, his approach, much like Cabral's, has followed in the footsteps of giants. Cabral is a key part of that bond. Vision in place, they and the rest of the staff are committed to tying all of that tradition together.   

"It's really an honor to be able to have the title of recruiting coordinator and really just continue to build off of what coach Foster and the recruiting staff have done the last few years," Cabral stated. "I have the title, but, to be honest with you, it's a team sport, how we handle recruiting here. Everybody from our on-campus recruiting staff, all of the way up to our head coach and everybody in between."

Russell to Lunsford, Foster to Cabral, certain specifications at Georgia Southern remain. Some basics, especially here, pass the test of time. 

"There should always be a standard of having the toughest dudes on the field. You see it all across college football. It's not necessarily the team with the best players, it's the best team that a lot of times wins football games, especially important ones. Those kinds of qualities, they never get old," Cabral concluded. "An old coach once told me, 'cool guys get you beat'. You can't have a bunch of cool guys around, this game is too hard, there is too much to lose, too much to put it in order to be successful. Those standards won't ever change here."

Not just a coach, not just a coordinator, Cabral is a continuation. More of the same is on the way.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports