graphic courtesy of Purdue’s athletic department
Wednesday, November 11th, marked the beginning of the Fall Signing Period. Even though we are in an unprecedented time where many colleges are operating online and the NCAA has extended a “dead period,” which prevents in-person contact between DI coaches and recruits until January 1st, 2021, there was plenty of action. Notifications of recruits signing with DI and DII schools flooded my Twitter timeline for the rest of the week. There were a variety of ways that schools used to announce their signees, some of which were more creative and flashy than others.
Since Wednesday, we have kept track of the best social media efforts and ranked a top-12. Remember this has nothing to do with the quality of the recruits, but the Covideo competitors for social media presentation itself.
By the way, make sure to salute your favorite school’s coaching staff, sports information directors, interns, director of operations, and anyone else that assists in this process. Most of these men and women rarely get the attention and credit they deserve for working well past the 40-hours a-week mark to get fans and media information in a timely manner.
Remember Ivy League schools, service academies, DIII institutions do not sign National Letters of Intent (NLI), so they were not considered.
12) Oregon State
Truthfully, this mention is probably an achievement award for the entire recruiting process under new head coach Chris Pendleton. The whole Beaver staff has come up with fun GIFs to signify that they’ve landed a new recruit. Things like that have gotten the wrestling community (most of which were not OSU fans) interested in what kind of silliness the staff will come up with next. As for the actual signing day, Oregon State has a large class and plenty of graphics were flying around Wednesday. The graphics themselves, were solid and had all of the essential features. What you have come to expect from a coaching staff and department that cares about fan engagement.
Wrestling isn’t necessarily a flashy sport. In fact, it’s quite gritty. Wyoming’s graphics on signing day illustrate the gritty simplicity of our great sport. The bulk of the picture features a black and white large headshot of the signee. The background is Wyoming’s traditional shade of brown with a gold Cowboy silhouette and gold lettering for the recruit’s last name. Sometimes, people want to overthink these projects and all too many bells and whistles. This one is professional, clean, and gets the job done.
10) Northern Colorado
On the other end of the spectrum from Wyoming is their neighbors to the south Northern Colorado. The graphic has a gold background with a circle in the center that contains a picture of the recruit. Also in the circle is a large picture of the Rocky Mountains, a Bear, and a sign that says “Welcome to Colorful Colorado,” all behind the sign at the entrance to the University. There’s definitely more to see than Wyoming’s and a lot of color. I enjoy it because it highlights the unique features of Colorado. I can see how some that Northern Colorado’s may not be your cup of tea if you enjoy Wyoming’s and vice versa, but a lot of effort and thought went into this one.
First off, let’s get this out of the way, I’m a sucker for maps. I always enjoyed geography classes and like knowing places and locations. The UNK social media graphics have a picture of the new signee overtop an understated Loper with the wrestler’s name and home state on the other half of the graphic. Their hometown is spelled out and labeled with a map pin. Wrestlers tend to come from small towns. Many that I’ve never heard of previously. I like seeing where in the state that is. Overall, no real frills, but fun for me (and maybe only me).
8) Iowa State
Like UNK, Iowa State also included a map of their recruit’s home state with a point for the location of their hometown, but it is a much smaller visual. That’s ok, because there’s plenty of other features. First and foremost, the autograph. It is signing day. You may as well have the recruit’s signature on there. That takes up about half of the graphic, while the other half contains a picture of the signee. In the tweet that accompanies the graphic, there was basic information about the wrestler and cyclone emoji’s. Iowa State head coach Kevin Dresser also retweeted those with a few words on each recruit, usually one of their top two traits.
7) Virginia Tech
The Hokies only signed two recruits, so their fans saw less of their graphics compared to most on this list. That’s a shame, because they were very strong. Anyone in the top seven when above and beyond your basic social media graphic. Virginia Tech’s offering included a six-second GIF that simulated the ripping of a paper to reveal a picture of the recruit in a Hokie singlet on the right half. The left side included his name/hometown and weight class, along with a logo that had Virginia Tech circling it in a clockwise manner. That image faded into a black and white photo of an old match with Virginia Tech Wrestling overtop of it.
6) Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has a lot of similarities to Virginia Tech’s offering. The extra feature that the Cowboys social media graphic includes is a signature for the recruit. That small detail gives it the edge over the Hokies.
I love “outside-the-box” thinking. I appreciate it when wrestling programs do something just a little different to stand out from the crowd. That’s what we get with Augustana’s social media graphics. The graphic’s primary focus is a large bitmoji rendering of the signee, decked out in an Augustana singlet. If the mission is to create something that grabs the eye and makes the viewer do a double-take, mission accomplished. Augustana isn’t a school that gets mixed in with the Oklahoma State’s and Virginia Tech’s of the work, but that little feature differentiated them from everyone else in the country. The graphic’s background featured a black-and-white image of the wrestler in action and in addition to the standard information, a projected weight class and high school accomplishments were included. The only four schools above Augustana had some sort of multimedia facet to their signing day offerings, so this was about as good as you can do with a single, stand-alone graphic.
4) Lake Erie
What an excellent showing for DII Lake Erie. Most of the damage on the social media side was done through Twitter, but the Storm took a different route and struck on Instagram. Each recruit had a separate post that started with ominous clouds in the background and the phrase “Loading….Rainmakers”. Then the booming voice of all-world announcer Jason Bryant introduced the recruit with his hometown and state. 30 to 45 seconds of highlights of the recruit followed. If that wasn’t enough, the program released a 49 minute YouTube video where Rob Gore and the Storm coaching staff discussed the incoming recruits, one-by-one. What more could you want as a wrestling fan? The only reason they weren’t higher is that these weren’t all available on Twitter, so there could have been a large chunk of the audience that missed out on the great efforts from the Lake Erie crew.
3) NC State
The Wolfpack’s social media accounts have been excellent for years under the leadership of SID Brian Reinhardt. Brian says that the NC State has more help in the graphics department and it showed in their finished product. Each recruit had a separate GIF posted through Twitter that started with an alert for a new signing. Then there was the audible sound of a paper ripping, which revealed the home state and pinpoint of their hometown. Simultaneously, the school’s fight song began playing, followed by a graphic that includes the recruit in an NC State singlet. The background of the graphic shows the skyline of downtown Raleigh, with silhouettes of the recruit and a wolf. Basically, the final graphic itself is solid enough and tends to be the end product for most schools. Then you through in the map, the fight song, and you have one of the best notices in the country.
By now, you can tell that the top programs in this ranking have to feature more than just a flashy graphic. Maryland went above and beyond and with a three-part release on each recruit. The first graphic had a background with a black-and-white picture of the Terps competition venue. An action picture of the recruit sat in the middle of the graphic, inside his last name’s lettering. Their first name sat below and was made to appear as if it were painted on. That was decent enough, but next, there was a short video from the recruit introducing themselves and discussing why they chose Maryland. Finally, there was a third graphic that had a large picture of the recruit and included a quote from head coach Alex Clemsen. The quote was tailored to each recruit and described why they are special and a good fit for the program. After all of the Terps recruits were announced, a separate graphic was released with a picture of all seven signees. Finally, a graphic was created for each wrestler and their current rankings from various national media outlets were featured.
Earlier in the week, I spoke to Purdue’s SID Tanner Lipsett. He described the time leading up to signing day as “his Super Bowl”. If that’s the case, he and the rest of the staff at Purdue should be walking away with the Vince Lombardi trophy. The Boilermakers have traditionally been savvy with their social media, but this campaign goes above and beyond. Each recruit had a personalized graphic which had a headshot and their name along with the phrase “Welcome to the Family”. Then Lipsett contacted various media outlets (including TOM) to get their opinions on each individual signee, as well as general views on the class. Those quotes were made into separate graphics. For those who couldn’t get enough information on the Boilermakers, a PDF contains an in-depth look at their three-man class. It had more quotes from Coach Tony Ersland and the media members, along with the signees’ past credentials and national rankings. Of course, plenty of pictures are included too. If that’s not enough, all three recruits were rounded up for an appearance on the team’s “Always Aggressive” podcast. If you’re a Purdue fan or just someone who enjoys following recruiting, I’m not sure you could ask for more.