Tales from the road

With national signing day little more than a week away, coaches are crisscrossing the country to lock down key commitments. It's during this time -- at in-home visits -- that anything can happen. While making last-minute pitches to recruits and their families, coaches will do almost anything to secure a signature. Whether that means choking down some bad food or doing whatever it takes to meet a recruit, coaches have great stories from this time of year. Here are some of those stories:

A coach. A coach and his car. And locking the keys inside.

"I remember going on the road with Coach [Fred] Goldsmith to recruit Brendon Fitzgerald out of Dallas when I was at Rice. I meet up with Coach Goldsmith at a filling station in Dallas near the airport. I'm filling up the car, Coach jumps in the car, but then he sees there's a McDonald's across the street. He hollers out 'I'm going to go get a quick burger.' The only problem is that I left the keys in the ignition because he was in the car. It was one of those really, really nice rental cars in the early '90s that the doors locked when you shut the door. So I'm filling up the gas tank, he shuts the door and I'm like, 'No, Coach.' The keys get locked in the car.

"I called Brendon to ask him if he can pick up Coach. He comes up in his pickup truck. He gets Coach, and I tell him I'll call the rental car place, and they'll bring me some keys and I'll meet you at Brendon's house. Well, the rental car place is at DFW airport and we're out toward Richardson. They tell me they can't bring me the keys, so I have to go to the airport to get them.

"A policeman shows up, so I explain to him what's happened. I beg him. I say 'I'm Coach Koenning with Rice. Can you take me to the airport?' He says 'Sure Coach. I'll help you.' So I jump in the police car, and we're riding toward the airport and all of a sudden he gets a call that there's been a wreck. He says 'Coach, I have to work this wreck.' So here I am in a car with a police officer and my head coach is in the home visit now with the parents.

"I have to borrow his phone and call Brendon. He puts Coach Goldsmith on. I say 'Coach, this is Les.' He goes 'Where are you at? I've been in this home for over an hour and a half.' I tell him 'Coach, I've got a small problem.' I tell him about how I'm stuck with the policeman.

"Somehow after he worked the wreck, we made incredible time on the highway, got the keys and he jets me back to the car with the lights on and everything. I get in the rental car and finally make it to Brendon's house. It's been two and a half, almost three hours. Coach Goldsmith apparently has talked about every part of the University, and I mean everything. I knew I was in trouble when I saw that they had a dip bowl and it looked like somebody had taken their finger and just cleaned the dip bowl out. The most beautiful thing about the story? We signed Brendon."
-- Texas receivers coach Les Koenning Jr.

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