More at stake for GWU at Charlotte
While No. 25 Gardner-Webb is sporting its first national ranking since 2002 and they are off to their best start since that time, Saturday’s game at UNC-Charlotte has more implications that just a record.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs (4-1) will travel 60 miles to Charlotte not only to play a college football game but also hope to enrich its recruiting efforts in the region.
At count, there are only four players on the GWU roster with ties directly to Charlotte. Extending out, only 15 on the roster come from an area from Gaffney, S.C. to Shelby.
But, that number is something GWU head coach Carroll McCray hopes to change.
And Saturday’s game at Jerry Richardson Stadium could be a spark to do just that.
“We’re not very far from Charlotte so it is a large population with good football,” McCray said. “My history at Gardner-Webb when we have had good football teams we have had a lot of players from that area.”
However, Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert — a Kansas State University graduate — has the market on recruiting in Charlotte cornered with 20 on the active roster from the metro area. Tack on another 11 players in a region from Monroe to Concord and the 49ers have hit the market hard in their first season.
That puts pressure on the Runnin’ Bulldogs to make an impact in their efforts to base more regional recruiting.
“Even though football is better, UNCC has done a good job recruiting that area,” McCray said. “We want to make sure we are seen as we try to recruit that area.”
There are currently 40 players on the GWU roster that hail from outside North and South Carolina. Players have come from as far away as American Samoa, California, Colorado and New York to play for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
McCray said he would like to change the recruiting philosophy for Gardner-Webb as he is in the middle of his first year at the helm of his alma mater.
“We’d like to be in the southeast,” McCray said. “Our recruiting has been broad and more national but we would like to see if we can bring men in from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.”
And Charlotte has the potential to be fertile ground to attract players to Boiling Springs.
A good showing, or even a win over the 49ers could go far to bring reality to McCray’s intention to focus more on regional recruiting.
“We’ll recruit from anywhere that we have the opportunity,” McCray said. “But we want to get kids from the local areas because it helps with the fan base.”