— As the Big 12 prepares to start conference play, Oklahoma State’s senior quarterback and a potential NFL player are leading a group of recruits to Georgia.
That’s the first sign of a growing trend in college football recruiting that has grown dramatically over the past decade, as teams are increasingly looking to sign top prospects, who can help boost their programs’ bottom lines.
And it highlights the growing power of recruiting in the SEC, which has become a recruiting powerhouse and an attractive destination for players who may not otherwise have the financial means to travel to places like North Carolina, South Carolina or Alabama.
The trend is a reflection of the growing importance of the conference in recruiting, and of the league’s growth in the past several years.
In fact, according to the NCAA’s recruiting rankings, it is now the nation’s fourth-largest conference.
Its total recruiting budget is $9.9 billion and its annual revenue is $6.6 billion.
For the past two years, the league has had one of the highest recruiting budgets in the country.
And while some teams may be competing for a top-three recruiting spot this year, the SEC is expected to spend $6 billion this year on recruiting and television rights, according for-profit sports data company Sports Marketing Land.
The league’s biggest spending spree, however, will come in 2019, with $1.3 billion expected in spending on TV rights and $1 billion on recruiting, according Sports Marketing’s latest ranking.
Oklahoma State football players coach Brian Kelly, left, and quarterback Josh Doctson talk with a recruit during an indoor workout at Oklahoma State Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Monday, March 10, 2021.
AP/Eric GayThe trend is driven in part by a trend in which teams are competing for top prospects who can give their programs a competitive edge.
Some schools are spending upwards of $100,000 on a player in an attempt to land him.
Others are spending less than $100.
At Oklahoma State, for example, its top-ranked recruit, quarterback Josh Dobbs, is expected at the end of 2019, according with the school.
The school’s $100-per-day scholarship, which includes housing, transportation, dining and gym expenses, will go toward Dobbs’ recruitment and a homecoming celebration.
And Dobbs and his family, including his brother, Will, will be able to enjoy a $20,000 party in his honor at the team’s spring game.
The Dobbs family is the first family to make the trip to Georgia this spring, the first since his brother’s recruitment, according With Dobbs joining the Sooners, the Dobbs brothers will become the only Oklahoma State players to visit the Bulldogs in two decades.
Oklahoma has long relied on Dobbs to be its lead quarterback, and while he has struggled to produce at the high school level, he has become an effective recruiter for the Soonos.
The duo’s journey began on May 14, 2020, when Oklahoma State held a three-day practice with the New Orleans Saints, the Soonies’ other rival in the state of Louisiana.
During the four-day session, Dobbs said he felt his team’s offense was a lot better than the Saints, who were ranked No. 10.
The Soonies won their opening game and became the second team to win back-to-back Big 12 championships in 2017 and 2018.
“I think the offense is more complete and the defense is more cohesive,” Dobbs told reporters during the day.
“It’s just a lot more balanced now.”
The next day, Dobb and his teammates walked through a new locker room and were introduced to a group led by assistant coach Dwayne Stiles, who was hired by Oklahoma in December after he spent four years as the coach at Louisiana Tech.
The group also included defensive lineman Brandon Jones, who later played at Texas A&M and now works for a recruiting agency.
“They’re not going to be here forever,” Dobbin said of the Saints.
The next morning, DobBS walked through the same locker room with the Saints and another group led in part in part for Stiles.
The trio was then introduced to the Soonys’ coaching staff.
“This is where I feel I’m going to make my mark on this program,” Dobb said.
Dobbs was then able to meet with former Cowboys defensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who worked in the NFL for three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Shanahan told Dobbs that the Soones would be a team that would be ready to compete in the Big Ten.
“Kyle said he wanted to recruit this kid, because he felt that this kid was going to do a lot of good for Oklahoma,” Dobby told The Oklahoman.
“And he was right.”
Dobbs had to meet Stiles and the Saints in person.
After they got a sense of the team