ASHLAND, Ore.—Southern Oregon football held its first official visit for recruits this weekend.
A dozen players from across the west flocked to campus to hear the Raider coaching staff’s formalized pitch as to why they should commit to SOU.
"It's exciting,” SOU head coach Charlie Hall said. “We've been contacting players on the phone or they've been to some of our games as an unofficial visit but now we get a chance to get intimate and learn more about them and they get to learn more about us to help with that decision making process."
Many of the players arrived in Ashland from Nevada, Idaho and Northern California. Others, like former South Medford quarterback Robbie Patterson, former South Medford running back Jaylin Parnell and former Phoenix defensive back Chase Courtney are southern Oregon born and bred.
In Hall’s first recruiting cycle as SOU head coach, reeling in local talent is a priority.
"It's very important for us to retain those players,” Hall said. “It's tough. I know having been at Ashland High School those kids want a different scenery other than Grizzly Peak behind the goalpost. But coming from Medford or coming from Phoenix or Crater and those areas, I think we offer some great things and a chance for their family's to stay connected as they go through college."
"I think that being home also allows for that home crowd to come watch,” Courtney said. “It'd be cool to have my parents here at the tailgate and our family friends and my squad from Phoenix be able to come here and support. They got the upper hand in that one."
"Talk to anyone here that's come from a local school and (they) said they love it,” Patterson said. “So their message to us was talk to those guys, get a feel for it, and even though it's right down the road, it still feels like a far away thing."
It was a weekend about an eventual decision for these recruits, but the decision is not exclusively about football.
Through campus tours, individual meetings with parents about classes and grades, and even a trip to the bowling alley, the SOU coaches are trying to sell SOU as a university and southern Oregon as a home.
"The biggest point about coming to Southern Oregon could be said about our success, but our culture is very important,” Hall said. “And when we see our players come out of here in four years and mature and become leaders and get excited to go out into the community… just seeing that has really got to inspire them as players, and parents too, to feel good about their sons coming to Southern Oregon."