football Edit

Recruiter of the Year: Alabama assistant Charles Huff

Alabama is different. Alabama is Alabama.

This past year was different, because of the pandemic. But in a very different year, the Crimson Tide played perfect football, won another national championship and signed a historic recruiting class in 2021.

As they say: The rich got richer. And the success of the No. 1 class can be credited to the entire staff, but not many can claim the number of wins in recruiting battles that Charles Huff had over the past year. For those accomplishments, Huff has been named's Recruiter of the year.

Huff was the lead recruiter for five-stars JC Latham and Dallas Turner. Then Huff shares the credit for highly ranked four-stars Damon Payne, Jacorey Brooks and Devonta Smith.

“It’s an honor, but it was about the team,” Huff said. “The success at Alabama is about the infrastructure Nick Saban has in place. It is not just me, or me on my own, but there are multiple coaches involved with recruits at Alabama. We play off each other. It is a team effort, and yes, recruits will have a lead coach, but there are others at Alabama that make it a success.”

Brooks, Latham and Turner are from Florida, Payne from Michigan and Smith from Ohio. Alabama lands players from throughout the country year after year, and Huff played a big role in landing top out-of-state talent this cycle.

He relates to kids, but there is more to it than that, and this year COVID-19 made the job tougher than ever.


NSD 2021: Alabama wins recruiting title | Announcement Guide

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS: Alabama coach Nick Saban | Clemson coach Dabo Swinney | Mizzou's Eli Drinkwitz | UNC coach Mack Brown | Florida State coach Mike Norvell | Penn State coach James Franklin | USC coach Clay Helton | Arkansas coach Sam Pittman | Georgia coach Kirby Smart | Maryland coach Mike Locksley | Miami coach Manny Diaz

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

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COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series



“When you are recruiting, regardless of what year it is, coaches have to do a really good job of identifying who the decision-makers are. It is not just about the player. Yes, you have to build a strong relationship with the kid, but you have to do the same with the family and the support system.

“This year was extremely different. It was different for coaches, kids, parents and everyone involved," he said. "I just try to be relational with everyone. You have to make everyone involved feel comfortable. A lot of parents are going through this for the first time, so you have to connect with each person involved, make them feel comfortable about their kid leaving home and make sure they know someone will be there to answer questions or help them at all times.”

With the pandemic in place, Alabama being Alabama helped the Crimson Tide. Players across the country know what Saban is doing, the tradition in Tuscaloosa. And that, combined with how the staff adapted to the changes in 2020, clearly made this the top recruiting class in the country.

Huff was a big part of that, but he said there were some key elements to this class coming together.

“Alabama is, of course, well known, and kids already have a feel for the program, so in a year like 2020 that was important,” Huff said. “But there is a lot more to it than that. We still have to connect with the kids, and this year more than any year before, we had to work to make sure all questions were answered, parents felt comfortable and address all the concerns.

“We were only doing that after we identified the right players for Alabama. The system Saban runs narrows down the players that fit the criteria, and it eliminates the chance to miss on a lot of players.

“Under Saban’s system, Alabama is always going to sign a quality class, have limited misses and it will land elite players with elite skill sets. When you follow the criteria Saban has from a player to character, the recruiting class will be strong every year.

“Alabama will stick to the parameter under Saban, so the classes will continue to be strong.”

Now, the Recruiter of the Year hopes to take what he learned from Saban to Marshall. Huff is the new head coach of the Thundering Herd. He has made coaching stops along the way at Alabama, Hampton, Maryland, Mississippi State, Penn State, Tennessee State, Western Michigan and the NFL's Buffalo Bills, so he plans to take what he learned along the way under a lot of great coaches to build his own program and rebuild the Marshall program.

“I have been around a lot of good people, some really good head coaches, and I have had a lot of really good mentors, so I am excited about what we have the chance to do here at Marshall,” Huff said.

“I was just at Alabama, so I have seen this done at the highest level, and now I can set our parameters here at Marshall and get the right fits for this program," Huff said. "Like we did at Alabama, stick to the criteria, put together consistent recruiting classes, go into recruiting with the same mindset.

“I am not saying we are going to recruit at the same level as Alabama, but we will have that infrastructure and criteria, so I plan to stick to that and start to put some strong classes together. I am excited about what is ahead (at Marshall).”