The college football coach who made his own recruiting app

4/21/2017 By Daniel Uthman
USA Today

Beginning Monday, Jovan Dewitt will spend much of the next six weeks traversing Broward County, Fla., visiting between six and eight high schools per trip to meet with football players and their coaches.

It’s a lot to keep track of.

“It’s usually around 60-some high schools I go visit on any given couple-week period,” said Dewitt, whose assigned recruiting areas as a member of the UCF football coaching staff are greater Fort Lauderdale and a sliver of Atlanta. “Some schools will have 10 or 12 kids, some schools will have 20 kids I have to know about, some schools will only have one or two.”

According to NCAA Research, high school football players in Florida earn the most college scholarships, per capita, of any state. Dewitt is expected to know every FBS-worthy player in Broward County's pool and beyond, and the list will grow by the end of the NCAA’s spring evaluation period on May 31. Dewitt understands this, which is why a couple years ago he created a phone app to make the task more manageable.

The app’s architecture allows Dewitt to enter written information as well as audio and video from every interaction he has with a prospect or someone connected to the prospect and share it in real time with any fellow staffers whom he’s given access to the app.

“When you're out and about and say, the offensive line coach is in Texas and I'm in Miami, he can see all the notes as we're evaluating,” Dewitt said. “We're trying to compare and analyze people from across the country because recruiting has become such a big deal in terms of getting real-time information back and forth, and as much as it changes now, you need to be able to communicate those things as fast as possible.

“All I really did was I combined any kind of a free tool that I could find. I'm sure it's a really clunky way to do it, but it seems to be pretty efficient for me. It really just saves me time so I can spend less time finding my notes and more time recruiting.”

Dewitt, a math and physics double major during a two-time Division II all-America career at Northern Michigan in the late 1990s, considers the app a side project that scratches multiple itches: it helps him be better at a job that is his passion, and it gives him the tech, data and problem-solving fix he has craved all his life.

It also helped him get instant credibility when he joined UCF as part of head coach Scott Frost’s initial staff as linebackers coach and special teams coordinator in 2016.

“Coach is very, very smart,” said linebacker Shaquem Griffin, the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. “To have your actual position coach make something like that, that’s when you know when it comes to doing something on the field, you better do it right.”

Dewitt is entering his 18th consecutive year in college football coaching, but it was his lone full-time job outside the business that provides the app’s origin. In 1999, Dewitt spent one year as a mortgage broker for Ditech in Costa Mesa, Calif., using customer relationship management software to interact with dozens of clients and potential borrowers. The software cataloged every customer’s pertinent information and their every interaction with Dewitt and the company at large.

“At any given point in time you could be working with 40, 50 different clients in a month, and you had to be on top of each person’s situation, because they’re all unique,” Dewitt said. “To me, that correlated over to recruiting.”

A decade and a half later, that CRM software inspired the functionality and infrastructure of his football recruiting app, which works on IOS and Android platforms. Setting up templates and customizing everything down to the labels can be cantankerous, Dewitt says, but the final web-based product works for him and his Knights peers, whether they are on their phone or desktop.

“And I built it for free, so that’s even better,” he says with a laugh.

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