Cheap flights draw recruits to UTC

Cheap flights draw recruits to UTC

February 5th, 2011 by John Frierson in Sports - College

Recruiting college football players in the talent-rich state of Florida is different from recruiting in Nashville or Birmingham or Atlanta, UTC coach Russ Huesman said.

In Florida, "everybody's down there [recruiting], but there's also a lot of players," he said.

It's also convenient - and part of recruiting tactics - that there are cheap and easy Allegiant Air flights several days a week from Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport to both Orlando Sanford International Airport and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

This recruiting period, Huesman and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga were down there, too, landing five signees from Florida on Wednesday's national signing day.

UTC defensive coordinator Adam Fuller recruits Florida and said he targeted those areas because the travel was so convenient and affordable. Flights can average around $50 each way.

"I based it truly off of flights," he said. "That's why we went there."

And those flights, he said, were part of his pitch to the recruits and their parents.

"It's hard to quantify, but I think [the flights] made a big difference," Fuller said. "It's part of what I tell them."

The pitch worked for Cameron Montgomery, who admittedly didn't know anything about Chattanooga a year ago. The Jones High School safety from Orlando, Fla., didn't have much reason to then.

He knows a lot now.

"I did a little research on it and found out it was pretty cool," Montgomery said. "When I visited, I saw that it was a really nice school."

Montgomery is one of the five high school seniors from the Sunshine State to sign with the Mocs on Wednesday. The others were cornerback Clim Robbins from Jones High, wideout Ron Moore Jr. and cornerback Deron "T.J." Thompson, both from Seminole High School in Sanford, and running back Marquis Green from Palmetto High, a St. Petersburg suburb.

In a typical signing class of around 14 players, Huesman said, the goal is to sign most of the recruits from schools within 200 miles of Chattanooga and one or two from Florida. After getting scholarships back for improving its Academic Progress Rate score, UTC was able to sign 20 players to its 2011 class.

"This year was a different year just because of the numbers we had to sign, so we got on more [Florida] kids," Huesman said. "Adam did a great job down there, and so it worked out."

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