J.H. Rose sophomore Michael Allen already took an unofficial visit to Tennessee, checking out the Knoxville area and specifically the Volunteers’ facilities in football and baseball.
The Rose multi-sport standout and four-star running back prospect planned for more unofficial visits, including in March to South Carolina and North Carolina.
“All of that really got crushed,” Allen said during a phone interview Tuesday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted recruiting strategies for coaches and players. It went all-digital on March 13 when the NCAA banned in-person recruiting by Division I coaches, creating a dead period until at least April 15 with allowance only for contact via phone and email.
Allen is a college prospect in both football and baseball, already holding football scholarship offers from in-state schools Appalachian State, East Carolina and UNC along with regional Southeastern Conference teams Tennessee and South Carolina. He added an offer from N.C. State on Wednesday.
He already was planning to maneuver carefully through the recruiting process, and especially now.
“Even before all of this, I had absolutely no idea where I’m going to go or what sport I’m going to play or if I’m going to do both,” Allen said. “It’s still out there and I’m just trying to create a bond with these different schools and to just stay close with them.”
Because Allen is only a sophomore and per NCAA rules, a lot of his recruitment still has to go through his high school coaches. College coaches can initiate contact with him directly later this year.
ECU second-year coach Mike Houston said this sports hiatus has led to him watching plenty of video clips of various players, but the in-person aspect that is currently missing remains important to him.
“The unknowns are what exactly does a kid look like in person, after you’ve seen his film, and for him, what does our campus and our facilities look like,” Houston said of that process. “I gauge a lot of our recruiting based on my interactions with the recruits. The guys that we find, I have to have a really good feel for them as a person, and I get that from just sitting and talking to them and their parents. So you are taking away those opportunities, and those are things we are losing.
“I hope that we can still get a lot of that in this summer and still have our camps, which are so vital, and to get out on the road and go see recruits. I hope that we could have the opportunity to do that stuff in June and July, but certainly the NCAA would have to drastically change what is allowable in the summer.”
An advantage the Pirates have with Allen long-term is him already being in Greenville. ECU’s updated roster does not include any former Rampants, but starting quarterback Holton Ahlers and starting receiver C.J. Johnson are both D.H. Conley products.
“I always feel great about them and love coach Houston and those guys,” said Allen, who was listed on the Rampants’ roster last fall at 6-feet and 191 pounds. His 247Sports recruiting profile is 5-10, 181. “Being there feels like home, and it is home just because I live like five minutes away.”