The rapid evolution of the Director of Player Personnel position |

The evolving role of the collegiate Director of Player Personnel is showcased at this inaugural event in Nashville.

NASHVILLE — In the early days of Marshall Malchow’s career as a college football recruiting assistant, he spent hours upon hours swimming through 5,000-plus DVDs, labeling them, sorting them, and ultimately converting many of them to VHS. That’s the only way his boss at the time, Nick Saban, would watch film. On a piece of video playback technology that had been obsolete for a decade.

These were the dark ages of player personnel departments. Before Hudl. Before all but a few college football programs were looking for ways to streamline and professionalize their recruiting operations.

“I’m just sitting there sweating, trying to get tape done for Coach Saban, nervous as hell,” says Malchow, now Georgia’s Director of Player Personnel, recalling his days as an undergraduate, reporting to the most accomplished coach in the history of the sport.

That was less than a decade ago, but with the advent of directors of player personnel and the growth of off-field recruiting staffs, it feels like a time before the wheel had been invented.

This week, over 180 people who work in personnel from 60 different schools across the landscape of college football found their way to the Music City for the first-ever Personnel Symposium. A clinic where folks in off-field recruiting roles can learn, talk philosophies and gain insight to make each of their departments better. Ed Marynowitz is the brain-child behind the event. His experience includes the personnel department at Alabama, where he was the Associate Athletic Director for Football and the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was the Vice President of Player Personnel.

Malchow was on the first panel, sharing the stage with Ohio State’s Mark Pantoni, Penn State’s Andy Frank, Texas A&M’s Austin Thomas, Tennessee’s Drew Hughes and Michigan’s Sean Magee as they talked about the growth of the DPP role.

“In most cases we all started off in one- or two- man shops, and it’s evolved,” Frank said.

Programs have no chance to compete regularly for conference and national championships without a strong off-field recruiting department. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer were ahead of the curve in bolstering those operations. Some schools are still playing catch-up.

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