On national signing day earlier this week just outside the doors to the Colorado football coaches offices, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy staked out a position and chatted about one of his favorite parts of being a college coach.
Just over five years ago -- in December of 2005 to be specific -- right before Bieniemy left the college game for the National Football League, Sports Illustrated named him one of the top-10 recruiters in the nation.
Bieniemy participated in only about three weeks of the recruiting process with CU this year because of his commitment to finish the NFL season with the Minnesota Vikings. He is looking forward to his first full year on the recruiting trail to help recruit the 2012 class, but all things considered he believes the 19-player class announced Wednesday is solid.
"I'm pretty satisfied with the class," he said.
Head coach Jon Embree, who also has a big reputation in recruiting, and Bieniemy both bolted the UCLA program for the pros five years ago within a few weeks of each other. In the years since, plenty of change has come to the art of recruiting -- and make no mistake, they believe it is an art.
For instance, the practice of communicating with recruits via text message was becoming standard practice back then. It has been prohibited by the NCAA in the years since then. Communicating via Facebook and email has taken its place. Five years ago, head coaches were allowed to leave campus to recruit during the six-week spring evaluation period in April and May. Now, they, along with anyone identified as a head coach in waiting, must remain on campus.
There are myriad other tweaks to rules and advancements in technology that have occurred as well, but both Embree and Bieniemy say the fundamental nature of recruiting remains the same and probably always will. It's about building a relationship with each prospect.
That is now particularly more difficult to do for Embree than it is for Bieniemy because of the nature of their positions. Head coaches are allowed to visit a prospect off-campus only once. Embree said that takes some getting used to and comes with some pressure to get it right.
"The hard thing about it is only getting to see the kid once," Embree said. "I never realized how hard that would be. Obviously being an assistant, you're used to being able to see a kid five or six times off campus.
"That was really hard knowing that when you went in there, you had one shot. So you better make it count."
Another big change in recruiting is the fact that more prospects seem to be committing to programs earlier in the process. Obviously that doesn't mean they always remain committed. Some might switch their pledge two or three times before settling on a school.
Embree and his staff managed to flip seven prospects from previous commitments to other schools to CU during January and December. Embree previously said it was nine but corrected the number publicly Thursday during the annual recruiting luncheon.
Bieniemy said in some circumstances the program might have to speed things up to try to land a recruit who is interested in committing early, but he also is a true believer that some of the best prospects don't show themselves until their senior seasons while players who appear to be four or five-star performers as juniors can fade in their senior season.
"Guys get overlooked with everyone worrying about signing kids early," Bieniemy said. "There are some kids that turn out to be pretty good football players during their senior year."
At a program like CU where there is no special admission policy and it is tougher to qualify because there is no general studies degree or physical education degree, it is more difficult to build up a large list of early commitments because there is not enough information to be able to predict whether prospects will be successful academically in Boulder.
"We're probably going to be a little more aggressive earlier, but we have to be better about the evals and transcripts we get academically," Embree said. "We've got to make sure we get kids who can stay in school. ... We had to pass on some kids, to be truthful, who we probably would have had a good chance of getting but they couldn't do it academically in our estimation."
Another aspect of Embree's job as head coach is setting the priorities and keeping the roster balanced at all positions, trying not to have gaps where the starter is a senior and his backup is a freshman.
Embree already has identified the most crucial positions for the 2012 class as the offensive and defensive lines and wide receiver. Embree said the program will also recruit another quarterback in the 2012 class.
With 27 seniors on the roster heading into spring football next month, including 22 on scholarship, the 2012 class will be the largest batch of recruits in Boulder since 25 signed in 2007.
Here is a look the recruiting territories assigned to Colorado's nine fulltime assistant football coaches:
Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy -- Los Angeles, a portion of the Inland Empire (San Bernardino, Riverside, Redlands, etc), Houston, New Orleans.
Quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer -- Will recruit quarterbacks nationally as well as Washington and Oregon.
Offensive line coach Steve Marshall -- San Fernando Valley (California) and Houston.
Tight ends coach and special teams coordinator J.D. Brookhart -- San Antonio, Dallas-South and Colorado.
Wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy -- Dallas.
Defensive coordinator Greg Brown -- San Diego, Las Vegas, Arizona.
Inside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator Brian Cabral -- Orange County, Inland Empire and Hawaii.
Defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo -- Northern California, Central California the Inland Empire and Hawaii.
Outside linebackers and defensive ends coach Kanavis McGhee -- Houston and New Orleans.