Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Relationships mean a lot to UA recruiting director
An Arkansas football helmet is shown during SEC Media Days on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
University of Arkansas executive director of recruiting and personnel Joshua Thompson is all about relationships.
Thompson was hired in May after spending a year as the director of recruiting and football logistics at Louisiana-Lafayette. Previously, he worked in football operations as an intern while a student at Texas A&M in 2011-2012 under former coach Mike Sherman, and in the recruiting office for the Aggies as a player personnel assistant until 2017 for former coach Kevin Sumlin.
The relationship side of recruiting is attractive to Thompson.
"I think the biggest thing that stood out to me, I'm big on relationships and I'm very personable," Thompson said. "It's really about helping people make a decision that is more than a three-, four- or five-year decision, but more of a 40-year decision.
"Some may say kids choose a school because of uniforms or choosing a school because they have the nicest dorms. That's a small role, but bigger than anything is the relationships that you're able to build with these young men through the recruiting process."
A recent publication rated Arkansas' Fred W. Smith Center as one of the top facilities in the nation. While that's a plus, Thompson said Coach Chad Morris and the staff are the key to recruiting.
"Everyone in the SEC has a nice facility," Thompson said. "What makes us unique, what makes us different are the people that are in this facility and our head coach and how he looks at our football players as students first and then athletes. He wants them to grow into successful young men on the field, but he's also concerned about them off the field as well."
Thompson, who earned a bachelor's and master's degree at Texas A&M, said working a year in operations helped him in recruiting.
"Operations is a whole different ball game compared to recruiting, but they can go hand-and-hand," Thompson said. "You get to learn a lot of things. A lot of the guys and gals that I know working in recruiting that are really, really good and are really detailed are the ones that started out in operations."
He credits Sumlin and former Texas A&M director of football operations Gary Reynolds for helping him get a start.
"He hired me in operations at A&M," Thompson said of Reynolds. "He would always pull me into his office and drop little nuggets, as he would say."
Former A&M director of player personnel Dennis Polian, the son of NFL Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian, is another mentor.
"He really prepared me for the world I'm in now because no matter what the standard is throughout the building, you have to take pride in your job," Thompson said. "Take pride in every single thing you do. Just that attention to detail was ingrained in me while working under him."
Recruiting demands attention to detail and planning.
"A lot of people look at recruiting in different ways and have a lot of different philosophies," Thompson said. "The way I look at it as if it's a date. So for an official visit, you have a 48-hour date. You have to make sure that anything and everything that can be thought about is taken care of. Even to the smallest detail."
While not going into details, Thompson said the Hogs have implemented some of his ideas with Morris' approval.
"I make sure anything that we want to implement, before it's presented to the entire staff, he and I will meet and talk about it," Thompson said. "He'll change some things to make sure it fits his philosophy, and we'll go forward."
"He definitely has a approach of allowing you do your job."
Thompson is grateful to work for someone like Morris.
"He's a man's man, and he treats us all with respect," Thompson said. "It's really awesome to work for a man with strong faith and a man that treats everyone right."
Email Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 08/18/2019
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