Stein adjusts to a new way of football recruiting

NEW ULM — With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, college football coaches have had to change the way that they interact with potential recruits and even their current players.

Martin Luther College coach Mark Stein, who coached the Knights to the UMAC championship and the NCAA tournament the last two years, has adjusted with the fast-changing times in interacting with players and to the new changes in social interaction.

Rather than face-to-face meetings in person, Stein and his fellow coaches have used the various new ways of technology to speak to each other.

“That’s probably the biggest change, I’ve used more technology than I ever have,” Stein said. “I really like to meet face-to-face with recruits, with their parents, with my coaching staff and our current players. That’s just not an option right now.”

He said that the Knights are in spring practice mode and the players have responded well.

“While it’s like this, we’ve kind of adjusted and used a lot of Zoom and Google Meet,” Stein said. “We’re in spring football now still, so we wind it next week and we have had football practices on Zoom just like we regularly would, we’re just not together and we’re not working out. It’s all install and video study and guys sharing their thoughts on certain situations. We do it just like we normally would, we start together as a team and then we break into offense and defense and special teams segment. We’ve had basically 100% attendance, guys are just excited to see each other and just be college guys, it’s actually really neat to watch.”

The Knights are the rare Division III team that have a pretty set roster for next year already. Many of the student-athletes announced early that they were going to attend the college and that has been a big advantage for Stein. Stein said that there’s another solid freshman class coming in and the number of players on the roster should be between 70-80.

“We’re pretty solidified with our freshman class,” Stein said. “We’re different than a lot of Division III schools in that our kids, as normal, are going to be thinking about the ministry. There’s a couple stragglers out there, but for the most past, our freshman class is 95-95% and it’s a very good class again and we’re super excited about kids coming from all over the country to New Ulm. A lot of them are really good football players.”

Stein said that there’s still a lot that needs to be done before things get back to normal. But he tells his athletes to keep working as if things were as normal as possible.

“I think there’s a lot that needs to be done,” he said. “It all depends quite honestly if we get a treatment or a vaccine, whatever makes people comfortable. I do see college athletics in limbo right now, I know there’s a lot of really big decisions that are going to be coming down the pipeline, probably in June or July, which is kind of late in the game. But I’d rather they waited and make a really good decision than just drop everything right now, because honestly things changed so much in a short period of time and things are changing back slowly. Who knows if it’s going to go fast or slow, I tell the kids every day, it’s a regular practice day and you’ve got to get your workout in and you’ve got to get your film study done.”


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