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Covid-19 Forcing Teams to Get Creative With Recruiting

From online Madden Tournaments to social media dance battles, the recruiting landscape has been flipped on its head during the coronavirus outbreak

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The coronavirus outbreak has completely changed the sports world and there's no end in sight. 

On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA extended its mandated dead period in recruiting from April 15 to May 31, but even on a dead period, recruiting doesn't stop. Just ask Rockdale High School's Cam'ron Valdez.

"I'm on my phone all day, on the phone with coaches. Or on zoom," Valdez says.

The 2021 running back has nearly two dozen Division I offers already, but the coronavirus pandemic is putting his commitment on hold.

"I had all my dates set out to visit colleges but unfortunately since this came, I had to cancel them," he says.

The NCAA's athletic suspension restricts coaches from interacting with recruits in person, so in a time when social distancing is the new norm, schools are finding innovative ways to bring coaches and recruits closer than ever.

"It's really social media," Texas A&M head volleyball coach Bird Kuhn says. "We have to be entertaining via social media. I don't want to do what everyone else is doing. I want to do different things."

Speaking of different things, the Texas A&M football staff set up an online Madden tournament between coaches and recruits to keep up constant communication.

"The creative skills in all of us are coming out in lots of different ways," Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork says. "This was just a neat way to stay connected, do something unique."

Valdez may not be playing in any online tournaments, but he's still getting plenty of attention on social media.

He plans on rescheduling all of his out of state visits, but Covid-19 may cause others to reconsider.

"A a lot of instate kids who may want to go elsewhere, this may cause them to say hey I want to be closer to home because of all of this," Bjork says.

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