Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl called Ian McGrew into his office earlier this year. After a brief chat, McGrew had himself a new job.
“It was a 10-, 15-minute meeting maybe,” McGrew said. “Very quick.”
All Bohl wanted to know was what McGrew’s vision would be for Wyoming’s recruiting efforts. Justin Mesa, the Cowboys’ director of player personnel for the last two years, headed up that department before leaving in April to be closer to family in his native California by taking a job as the head football coach at San Marino High School.
Bohl liked what he heard, so McGrew was quickly promoted.
“It’s been fun,” McGrew said. “Been a little bit of a learning experience. I’ve been fortunate to be here for several years now, so the learning curve wasn’t quite as long.”
McGrew has been with the Cowboys’ program since 2015. As a teenager, the Tennessee native aspired to be the general manager of an NFL team, but that changed once he arrived in Wyoming as an intern after serving in a similar role for the Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers.
He’s worked his way up in the Cowboys’ recruiting office ever since, serving as a graduate assistant before taking over as Mesa’s right-hand man in 2018 as assistant director of recruiting. His responsibilities in that role included updating Wyoming’s recruiting database, helping evaluate recruits and assisting with the scheduling’ of recruits visits to campus.
“I kind of fell in love with the college game,” McGrew said. “I’ve enjoyed my time being here, and I’m happy. This is where I want to be.”
His duties have changed now that his latest promotion has him in charge of Wyoming’s recruiting efforts. He’s more directly involved with the evaluation of recruits, spending countless hours poring over their highlight tapes and providing feedback to Bohl and the rest of the coaching staff. And there’s less involvement in actually scheduling recruits’ visits to campus and more of an active role once they arrive.
“Getting them where they need to be,” McGrew said. “Meetings with professors, coaches, nutrition — whatever it might be. Whatever their daily itinerary is.”
As for what that vision is for Wyoming’s recruiting, McGrew said it involves tweaks rather than a reboot. Facility upgrades such as the state-of-the-art High Altitude Performance Center have helped boost the caliber of player the Cowboys have been able to sign — half of Wyoming’s 24 recruits in its 2019 signing class were three-star prospects in the 247Sports’ composite rankings — but there’s a difference in signing prospects and keeping them around a while.
Twelve Wyoming players have either already left the program or publicly announced their intent to transfer since last season. McGrew is working to create a more efficient process within the recruiting office to get a quicker, better idea of exactly which prospects are interested and, more importantly, are good fits for the long run.
“It’s really as simple as let’s have more meetings with our marketing department. Let’s be targeted there,” he said. “Our academics. Our initial eligibility. Let’s be targeted there. Let’s meet with these people. Let’s know what’s going on. Let’s stay on top of our guys just so you don’t have any late surprises. You’re minimizing your misses.
“It’s just having a plan in place months before, and I think whenever you have that plan in place, you prepare for it. It just allows you to be more efficient. We don’t have a lot of time to waste a step in a day, so we try to maximize our time as best we can.”
That includes a pair of camps this month. The recruiting calendar is in a quiet period until June 24, which means coaches can’t have in-person contact with recruits off campus during that time. So the Cowboys will bring prospects to them Friday for their second evaluation camp.
It’s the next opportunity for McGrew to help Wyoming continue the search for its next crop of signees in his new role.
“Laramie is a pretty unique place, and it takes a certain young man to survive here,” McGrew said. “And when you’re able to attack it with a targeted approach, you’re going to get the right kind of player in this program.”