Marsh leading Mavs into recruiting period
Today is the first day of a crucial stretch for the Colorado Mesa University football program.
It’s the first day college coaching staffs can make contact with potential recruits.
The contact period begins today and continues through Jan. 28, 2012. The first day a high school senior or junior college player can sign a national letter of intent with a four-year institution is Feb. 1.
Today is even more important because Colorado Mesa University will begin the recruiting process without a head coach for the first time in 14 years. Joe Ramunno resigned a week ago Friday.
“We’re going to keep building on the kids Joe had brought in,” interim head coach Shawn Marsh said. “We’ll keep in contact with these kids they’ve been recruiting.”
Marsh’s first concern is retaining as many of the current returning players as he can.
The Mavericks are set to have eight returning starters on offense and seven on defense, including quarterback Steve Romero, running back Jake Cimolino, RMAC defensive freshman of the year Jordan Price and the deBraga brothers, Trent and Trevor. Mesa loses only nine seniors who started or played substantial minutes.
“The big thing is the current players,” Marsh said. “We’ve got to make sure the current players know everything is going to be good. They are a great group of kids. Joe had a great recruiting class last year and the year before.
“We want to let those kids know there is a plan. We’ll make sure they will proceed in school. It’s important to let them know there is somebody they can come up and talk to. They have a lot of questions about what’s going on now.
“The kids of course are disappointed. They all loved Joe.”
Marsh will lead the recruiting efforts with the aid of Miles Kochevar, who elected to stay on staff. Volunteer assistants Phil Johnston, Darrell Simonton and Seth Damron will take the NCAA-required recruiting test and assist in the recruiting process, Marsh said.
Recruiting can be tough without a head coach, but Marsh plans to go about it like he would if Ramunno remained the head coach.
“You tell the parents what I’m telling them right now ... that is Colorado Mesa is a great place,” Marsh said. “It has great facilities and great leadership.
“I believe they’re going to do a great job of picking a new head coach, whoever that is. If a kid’s a good fit education-wise, then he’ll be a good fit (in football). We’re just trying to stay on the best athletes we can get.”
Marsh and the staff will certainly be addressing the offense on recruiting trips one year after the Mavericks switched to a spread offense.
“The chances, honestly, of someone coming in here and running the same offense is pretty high,” Marsh said. “This offense we ran this year was prevalent (in college football). I’m sure there will be some changes, but the chances of the offense being very similar to what we ran is going to be there.”
Meanwhile, the Colorado Mesa athletic administration is conducting a national search for its next head coach.
Athletic Director Butch Miller has not said what the committee is looking for in terms of experience or when it hopes to have a coach hired, but the job posting states, “A Master’s degree from an accredited college or university is required; previous coaching experience and/or playing at the collegiate level is required. Proven successful recruiting of quality student athletes is desirable.”
Marsh told The Daily Sentinel he has applied for the position.
“This is my community,” Marsh said. “I went to junior high here, high school here and I played here.
“I believe in this university, the president, the athletic director and our leaders. This is a job I want. I’ll work to get it. It’s a good job. This is a great spot to be.”
Marsh has been an assistant on the Mesa staff since 2009 and was an assistant in 1998 under Ramunno. He played for the Mavericks from 1987-1992 under Bob Cortese and Jim Paronto. The Mavericks reached the NAIA national championship game in 1990.
After his playing career, Marsh began his coaching career as an assistant for Ramunno at Palisade High School in 1993. Two years later, he landed his first head coaching job at Paonia High School. Since then, he has coached at each of the four local high schools, leading Grand Junction to the Class 4A state championship game in 2005.
“That’s the hard part (potentially replacing Ramunno),” Marsh said. “When you love somebody, you love working with them and it sucks. At the same time, this is what I do.”