How Dave Plungas and Robert Morris find their talent
In addition to his duties on the defensive side of the ball, Robert Morris defensive coordinator Dave Plungas also heads up the recruiting operations.
February 21, 2022
Robert Morris defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Dave Plungas has a more prominent role than just calling defensive plays on the sidelines. He also helps recruit the players on the field.
Before arriving in Moon Township in 2018, Plungas started his recruiting career at Division III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
“I had to mass recruit because we had to force guys to pay for school,” Plungas said. “I feel like that experience really helped to recruit because I had to offer guys nothing and persuaded guys to pay 50 and 60 thousand dollars, so that experience helped me in the Divison III realm.”
Plungas was also an admissions associate at RPI, making him do “double-duty” for the university, recruiting students on the admissions side and the football team.
He then joined his alma mater Albany in 2015 as an outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. Plungas was a three-year starting linebacker for the Great Danes from 2011 to 2013.
Plungas has two degrees from Albany, one in communication and one in sociology and he believes that is the recipe to be a good recruiter.
“It’s all about building relationships and I think that has everything to do in life too,” Plungas said. “It’s about being able to talk and speak to people with different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. You also need to be truthful and be yourself.”
Plungas, who followed Bernard Clark to Robert Morris when the former Albany defensive coordinator accepted the head coaching job, mentioned the building of trust between recruiter and player.
“If you are fake to someone when you’re recruiting, you’re not going to get the recruit, or when the young man gets here, he’s going to know that you were faking the whole process and we all know nowadays what that can lead to, the transfer portal.”
These past two years have been tough on everyone. We all had to change our way of life due to COVID-19, and while Plungas and many other recruiters were no different from that, in a recruiter’s eyes, it may have been a blessing in disguise.
Plungas believes he had one of his best classes here during his tenure due to players flying under the radar and the player-to-coach relationship through the virtual meetings.
“Before COVID, I was not a big FaceTime guy. Now, that’s all I do with recruits,” Plungas said. “I see their face because that’s how they can get in here and that’s how to form a relationship.”
There are many relationships recruiters like Plungas have to make. Before even talking to the recruit, Plungas would speak with the recruiter’s high school coach first.
“If we watch and like your film, the first call is to your head coach because your head coach knows you, your character, your leadership ability, your work ethic, everything you’ve done for four years, or leading up to your senior year of high school,” he said. “You have to check those boxes.”
If a head coach mentions destructive character issues, missing workouts, etc., despite how talented you may be, Plungas believes that is not what a Colonial is.
“We’re trying to build a team that is talented with great character.”
Another layer of relationships a recruiter like Plungas may go through is the families of the recruits. He says that there are many different types of families a recruit may have and that you need to build that relationship early in the recruiting process instead of going in blindly. The family would also like the taste of how they will spend their time athletically and academically.
Recruiting is not a cookie-cutter operation, as some have pointed out. There is plenty of change in the recruiting business already. A major example is the expediting growth of social media. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat have proved to make Plungas’ job a bit easier.
“The access of information is so fast now. There’s so much on your fingertips… a [recruit] gets one offer; he posts it,” Plungas said. “Now everyone knows about it. So it’s getting faster and faster and faster, so you have to be on top of it.”
The recruiting job has also evolved as social media has taken over, with Plungas pointing out what makes the job work.
“If you’re not on top of it, not talking to recruits daily, you’re going to fall behind. You have to be on it 24/7/365 because that’s what the job is now. If you’re not, you’ll fall behind.”
Now, as great as it would be to see the top prospect in the country commit to Robert Morris, the program has the formula to find the players that, more likely than not, would not appear on the 24/7 Sports database, still deserving to play at the next level.
“We all buy into [Bernard] Clark’s philosophy, wanting to hit our main areas,” he said. “We want to hit Western PA, we want to hit all of Ohio, then we head down to Maryland, New Jersey, and Florida because [Clark] and some of our other coaches are from Florida.”
When recruiting players, Plungas clarifies that he wants to make the recruit in question comfortable, especially when visiting campus.
“We always tell our guys, when you come here, we don’t want to dip our toe. We want you to do a cannonball,” Plungas said. “You’ve got to love RMU. We want guys that love this place, love what they do here and love who they do it with.”
Plungas concluded with advice for high schoolers who wish to play football at a collegiate level.
“Be great your senior year. There are a lot of juniors right now in the recruiting process, and you see a lot of times when you get caught up in the recruiting process and aren’t focused on having a great senior season, you have a bad senior season,” he said. “Those offers you might have had in the spring you wouldn’t have in the fall. So my biggest advice is to go into the weight room and be good at football.”
Plungas and the Colonials have loaded up their recruiting class for 2022 and will look to improve on their 4-7 record in their second season in the Big South next fall.