#onlinedating | New Virtual Recruiting the Latest Spin on Online Dating for Indiana Coaches | #bumble | #tinder | #pof

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — There are no on-campus tours for recruits and no in-home visits for recruiters these days, so chasing college football talent has basically become the latest version of online dating.

There are Zoom calls and FaceTime, and a lot of it with less restrictive recruiting rules in place and coaches home all day with plenty of time on their hands. It’s the new normal, and everyone seems to be adjusting to it pretty well.

“It’s nothing really new, though. These young people, they are so in to technology, and that’s how they talk to each other all the time anyway,” Indiana cornerbacks coach Brandon Shelby said Wednesday during a Zoom conference call with the media. 

Shelby said there haven’t been any awkward moments, but he has had to be careful when it’s the recruit that’s FaceTiming him. He and his wife Jennifer have two little kids at home.

“I’ll see some calling on FaceTime, and sometimes I have to run into a different room or make sure everybody is decent,” he said with a laugh. “But at the end of the day, we’re all getting used to it. That’s about the craziest thing that’s gone on. We’re all adjusting to it pretty well.” 

Shelby and new safeties coach James Jones were on the call Wednesday, and Jones has had to go one step further with technology because he’s still trying to get to know all his players. He met with them all in February after he was hired, and he was around for Indiana’s four spring practices. But right after that, everyone was gone. 

Instead, he’s had to deal with group meetings online and a lot of one-on-one calls, too. All things considered, it’s going well, he said.

“When I first got here, one of the things that I did, I brought each guy in and set up an individual meeting with them. That turned out to be important,” Jones said. “We sat down and I tried to get to know them as a person outside of football. Even though we only had four practices, I was still able to spend one-on-one time with them. 

“Once I went through the whole group, then we had a second meeting where we just sat down and just talked. I’ve had several occasions while everyone was in town to sit down and meet with them and we were constantly talking to them every day on the phone and things like that. I’m still building those relationships, but I really like the guys in that room.”

Outside of getting to know the players, Jones is also trying to get comfortable with his new coaching colleagues, as well. He said Shelby and Kasey Teegardin made it easy on him as the new guy. Teegardin used to coach safeties, but is now special teams coordinator, and he’s still coaching the Husky position in Indiana’s 4-2-5 defensive set-up

“It’s been really good,” Jones said. “Being the new guy coming in, you’re trying to get a feel for the guys in the room, plus get to know the other players. Brandon and Kasey, they’ve been great. They’ve welcomed me with open arms. I can pick up the phone and call either one of them. It’s like three guys working together as one.

“There’s no egos in the room, either, so if I see something that the husky did, I may let Kasey know. If Kasey sees something that the safety did, he’ll let me know. Vice versa with Shelby. It’s been good. It’s been really great.”

Shelby, who’s entering his 10th year as an assistant at Indiana, likes that he has an emerging core of young and talented cornerbacks in Tiawan Mullen, Reese Taylor and Jamar Johnson. But he’s also been known for playing young guys who are ready, like Mullen was last year. There’s going to be plenty of fighting for playing time once practice can get going, hopefully by August.

“The best people are going play, and that can change from week to week,” Shelby said. “You can look at Tiawan Mullen, he’s had his name all over the newspapers and the internet, but he knows if he doesn’t prepare in the right way and the right manner that has helped him attain this success, then he has an opportunity to lose his job.

“He took time away from other people last year. but he has to understand that the same thing that elevated him, if he doesn’t prepare, could hurt him.

“We have a great foundation, but iron sharpens iron. It keeps those guys sharp who are here, because I like competition.”

 Mullen is the top-rated returning defensive back in the Big Ten, according to Pro Football Focus, and big things are expected of him. Indiana won eight games for the first time in 26 years last year, and they want more of the same in 2020. The defensive back can have a lot to do with that, especially if they turn in more big plays.

“We’ve got to do a better job when we’ve got a chance to make an interception, and make that big play,” Shelby said. “When the ball hits our hands, we need to make that interception. We need game-changing plays, week in and week out. Those are the things that I’m pushing these guys to do.”

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