A Southeast football recruiting visit is heavy on reality, not as much on hype

Southeast Missouri State University president Carlos Vargas dances with players as the team enters the fourth quarter of their home opener against Southern Illinois University this past season at Houck Stadium.
Tyler Graef ~ Southeast Missourian

There is the Hollywood version of what transpires on a college football-recruiting visit. For those old enough to recall Anthony Michael Hall playing the role of a coveted quarterback in the fairly decent movie “Johnny be good.”

That very well may be close to what does go on at the highest levels of college football. However, it is a far cry from what a Southeast Missouri State football recruit actually experiences.

“Typically,” Redhawk recruiting coordinator Justin Drudik explained, “they get in here on a Friday night. We go to dinner and then we do an entertainment type of event.”

That’s what I’m talking about. This is “Johnny be good” come to life, right?

“Whether that is playing games,” Drudik explained, “doing something around town, like bowling or the trampoline park, or something like that.”

Remind me to never hire Drudik to write a movie script.

The reality of being a Southeast football prospect is that you’ll get a 48-hour dose of… reality.

“We’ll do (entertainment) on Friday night so that they get to know everyone,” Drudik continued. “Saturday morning, that is when we do a lot of academic work.”

Bright and early, the prospects are up and meeting with professors, advisors, and touring the campus (both main and the River Campus) to learn what being a Redhawk student-athlete truly means.

Following the tours around the city and campus, it’s time for the young player to learn what being a part of the Redhawk program will entail from seventh-year Southeast coach Tom Matukewicz.

“Coach Tuke meets with them,” Drudik said, “and he talks about our culture. He explains what ‘Brick-by-Brick’ means. We have four core values (effort, love, attitude, and self-discipline) that we believe in and he talks about those.”

The recruits quickly find out that there are as many off-the-field behavioral traits that need to be followed, as there are on-field ones.

“He’ll talk about how you represent our program,” Drudik said, “and what we expect from you.

“Families like to hear that.”

That is another aspect that may be surprising to some.

This visit?

It often involves the families of the recruits, as well as the Southeast coaching staff.

Following a morning full of digesting information on the university and the football program, the prospects will sit down for lunch with the Redhawk coaches AND their families.

“They get to see our families,” Drudik said. “Our wives and kids.”

Drudik said “position meetings” are set up that afternoon for players to get indoctrinated into the Southeast system and how they would specifically play a role in it. However, the recruit’s host, who often plays the same position as the prospect, can also present that information.

Drudik admitted “it can get weird” for a current Redhawk player to host a prospect who will be battling for his job in a few months.

“That is something you need to think about when picking a host,” Drudik said, “who is going to do a good job? Who is in this for the team?”

Drudik explained that many Redhawks serve as hosts for recruits, but he singled out senior defensive back Shabari Davis (“He does a really good job.”), junior defensive lineman Daterraion Richardson (“He’s a character. He does a great job.”), and freshman quarterback Jalyn Williams. (“He does a great, great job.”).

“Sometimes our quieter guys can do a good job, too,” Drudik added.

A fun part of each visit is Saturday night at Houck Stadium.

The Redhawk coaches take the recruits to the stadium and turn on the lights and the scoreboard before visiting the locker room for a photoshoot.

The recruits get suited up in full Redhawk gear, which Drudik said they always enjoy.

“We do the jersey and helmets,” Drudik said, “they have a good time taking pictures with their families.”

The Redhawks hosted a large number of players over the past few months and received commitments from 16, who will sign National Letters of Intent over the next three days.

Matukewicz said the “closing rate” of landing players has grown considerably, as the Redhawks have achieved more and more success.

“Our signing percentage based on the visits,” Matukewicz said, “is higher than it has ever been. We’ve done really well. The ones that we have offered and have been after, they’re coming.”

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