July 2, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Football
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
To simplify the complicated job description of Josh Sternquist, it's probably best to use his words: He's a waiter.
But what Sternquist, the University of New Mexico's director of on-campus football recruiting, serves up is not an ordinary dish.
He serves up future Lobos - quarterbacks, linemen, linebackers, well, all of that future Lobo stuff that Coach Bob Davie and his staff will attempt to turn into winning Lobos.
"I compare my job to being a waiter," said Sternquist, whose roots run Midwest deep with stops in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. "I pretty much put a list down in front of a coach and say, `This is what we have on the menu.'
"The coaches then make their selections. The final evaluation goes through the coaching staff. I just narrow down the list of choices."
Sternquist isn't one of those waiters who might recommend a certain dish or the special of the day. The coaches pick. But it is his job to make sure that what he places in front of a Lobo coach is available - and is sincerely considering becoming a Lobo.
"I can't misinform a coach and have him waste his time," said Sternquist. "It's vital that we identify prospective athletes, who want to be Lobos and who we feel can play here. We have to be smart about who we are going after. If a kid has committed (verbally), we need to quickly move on. We need to know these things before we go into the recruiting process."
The preparation of that menu is complicated and it takes time. The menu is formed, in part, through the use of scouting services which rate a player's ability.
Sternquist then has to research a prospective recruit's interests, personality, grades, character -- well, whatever he can get.
Sternquist will talk to high school coaches, scouting services, check out the social media (Facebook, Twitter) and double check that a player is up to par academically.
"The social media is really popular with kids and you can usually find out a lot of things," he said. "They usually will tell someone who they are interested in or if they have made a decision.
"The social media gives you another way to learn about a kid. It gives you insight into his personal thoughts and maybe what schools he is interested in. The internet has become a huge part of the recruiting process."
Sternquist played college ball in the defensive backfield and was coached in high school by his father. However, he does not think he will ever grab a whistle and take to the field as a coach.
"I love the game," he said. "But I think what I like most is the contact with the kids and I get to do that in an impactful way off the field. I thought about coaching early on, but I don't know if that's in my blood."
In evaluating what to place on the menu that he drops in front of a Lobo coach, there are a few regions of the country that Sternquist looks at first: New Mexico, Texas and a broad sweep from California through the Southwest and up through the Midwest.
"Most programs have a core they recruit to and that core is important to the development of a program," he said. "The kids that grow up wanting to play at your school provide an important and special element. They bring a geographical pride to your program and that is absorbed by other kids, out-of-state players, who come into your program.
"It's always easier to stay close to home in recruiting, but if a kid is interested in the University of New Mexico, we will evaluate him and give him fair consideration. We'll never say we don't recruit a certain area."
Sternquist says his favorite part of the job is when he gets to bring a recruit that he has been tracking - and wooing - to campus and meets that prospect face to face. The toughest part is losing a kid because that prospect picks another school or maybe because the Lobos pick another player.
"You start off with a whole bunch of kids and then you can only sign maybe 20 to 25. That's always tough," he said.
Sternquist came to Albuquerque on May 21. His wife (Kalen) and his three children will move to Albuquerque prior to the school year. "My wife was hesitant about New Mexico because she is a family girl from the Midwest and it's tough to move up shop from everything you have known," said Sternquist. "But I told her about the community and the friendliness that you find here and how much I like it. She started to brighten up."
Sternquist had a bit of an edge on his wife because one of his favorite football players ever happens to be an ex-Lobo and Sternquist had a strong link to New Mexico and Lobo football.
"I'm a Chicago Bears fan," he said. "I used to idolize Brian Urlacher. I need to find us another six or seven Urlachers."