At Inside the League, we are always talking to people interested in the evaluation trade. We find there are few things in football that inspire passion so much as scouting and identifying talent. Problem is, it’s easy for aspiring NFL evaluators to lock themselves in front of a screen, watching film and spouting wisdom on social media, but never making the connections that are essential in climbing the ladder.
That’s why we’re pretty bullish on the work that Lucas Gauthier, Director of Player Personnel at Colorado State, and Gaiza Crowley, DPP at UNLV, have done to bring together the second annual Personnel and Recruiting Spring Clinic, which will be held Friday and Saturday, May 20-21, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Friday’s activities will include a social at a local bar and restaurant, followed by a full day of discussions and presentations Saturday. Best of all, the event is totally free. Register here.
“I think the biggest thing is, it’s an event unlike any other for personnel and recruiting people,” Crowley said. “There’s (the) AFCA (Convention) that’s more on the coaching side, but there really isn’t anything that personnel and recruiting people can go to, to network and learn from each other, and that’s their sole focus.”
For that reason, Crowley and Gauthier have done everything possible to remove all roadblocks.
“There’s no cost and no registration fee,” Crowley said. “Just get to Las Vegas. It’s a one-night event, and we’ve got a room block that people are registering for.”
Crowley said he hopes the event can become a tradition and a way for people in the community to not just learn, but to climb the ladder.
“We’re trying to get as many together as we can to build the community like the coaching community has, which eventually will lead to more jobs and more opportunities in this industry,” he said. “As of right now, we have Power 5 and Group of 5 schools registered and FCS, too. We have about 15 FBS schools committed right now, including Iowa; Virginia Tech; Wisconsin; Utah; Florida Atlantic; UNLV, of course; Army; Colorado State; Hawaii, and others, so there’s a good mix.”
If you go, don’t plan to hang out with old friends and drink beer (or at least, not only that). This is a chance to make new relationships, learn and interact in a professional way.
“The basic setup is, we want the event to be as interactive as possible,” Crowley said. “We want everyone to get involved, so we will have multiple roundtable discussions that will allow people to sit with directors and assistant directors and talk about different challenges in the industry. When people register, they can submit topics.
“Some of the things we’ll be talking about will be transfer portal management, staff structuring, the big topics. There will be three roundtable discussions where you can sit and talk with different people, and the panel discussions are leaned more toward pro development. One is Mike Villagrana, the Senior Director of Player Personnel at Virginia Tech, and another is Butler Benton, the Executive Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel at Arkansas. They’ll be more focused on professional development, interviewing, jobs, and getting an opportunity for young people to have conversations with people that they might not normally have had.
There will be a chance to hear from NFL types, as well.
“Last year, we had Jack Gilmore, the scouting coordinator for the Raiders, and we’re reaching out to more NFL teams and scouts to get more of an NFL presence, as well,” he said. “We’ll have a guest speaker, somebody from the NFL. Jack did a great job last year breaking down the evaluation process.”
Though it’s all about learning, there will be time for fun, too, in an environment where everyone can feel camaraderie.
“The social Friday night allows everyone to get into town, and after that, there’s that comfort level,” he said “You will have done your intros and can hit the ground running.
“We have people not associated with teams that are just interested in coming, and we have college general managers and college directors who’ve already RSVP’d, as well. . . We had about 60 last year from 17 schools, which is a good number for a first-time deal, and we have a little more juice this year, and the vendors will foot the bill for most of it. As long as you can come to Vegas, everything else is taken care of. We are really excited about it.”