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Who are the top recruiters in college volleyball?

Who are the top recruiters in college volleyball?


Top Recruiters in the NCAA

1st recruiting is a staff endeavor so I’m not trying to offend anyone by leaving them off the list.  These are my observations and opinions from random college coaches about their peers. That being said I spent the last month studying some of the top recruiters in college volleyball.,

One main factor considered was “What schools are doing more with less when it comes to recruiting?”  What schools/coaches are getting phone calls, visits or verbals from top prospects that would surprise many.  

A great college volleyball radio announcer once told me “It is much harder to take a Top 30 program and make it a Top 10 program than it is for a Top 4 program to stay there”.  So a big look was given to programs that are building and bringing better talent than before or programs that have moved up and now are in line for much better prospects than 5-10 years ago.  

With that being said here is my list of some of the top recruiters or recruiting staffs in the NCAA

Kristen Kelsay Minnesota

One of the most likable people in the sport, Kelsay is one of the best relationship builders in the game.  She has spent time at Northwestern and Michigan State before joining Keegan Cook in Minneapolis.  With strong USA Volleyball ties, athletes can easily be drawn to Kelsay.  The new Gopher regime had a Top 10 recruiting class in 2025 and Kelsey is putting in the work to bring “the right kids to fit their culture” in 2026.  Possibly the best recruiter in the Big Ten it will be interesting to see the momentum Kelsay helps the Gophers carry into the 2026 class.  You combine her with Keegan Cook and his recruiting success and the Gophers are building the right way and will be headed back up in the Big Ten standings soon.

Todd Chamberlain-Louisville

“One of the best assistants in the country at evaluating talent” is how a rival coach describes Todd Chamberlain.  The Cardinal staff has worked its way up and has become a household name in the volleyball world.

With DBK being one of the best “Closers” in the business, Chamberlain is the relationship builder that has helped steadily improve the talent level of The ‘Ville classes year after year.  Their 2025 Class will end up top 10 nationally and maybe the best in the DBK era.  Combine that with their 2024 class that featured 2 UA All-Americans and you can see the job this staff is doing and the results Chamberlain is getting.

I love their 3rd assistant coach hire of former Minnesota libero CC McGraw who is already making an impact with prospects.

Vanderbilt Staff (Anders Nelson, Russell Corbelli, and Lauren Plum)

“How can you list a staff that hasn’t played a match yet?”  That’s exactly the point, the Vandy 2025 Class will be a Top 20 class and they don’t have a court to show prospects yet!  I’m not sure which coach to single out here as I think all 3 are built to contend for top prospects.  HC Anders Nelson was a main recruiting cog that helped bring Kentucky a 2020 National Title and consistent 2nd weekend runs in the tourney.  Corbelli brings a lifetime, of experience around the college game and has spent time with the Stanford program.  Then add Plum who has that spark that will gel well with prospects.  

They had no business being in a couple of final lists that they were with top 2025s.  This to me is another indicator of the impact they are making with young prospects and that looks to get stronger.

Factor in that Nashville will sell itself as a college town, full of entertainment and options, and when prospects do see facility renderings they will be impressed.  Does this mean the Commodores will just waltz into the SEC and contend for titles, No, but this staff is going to bring in some talented players sooner rather than later.

Kellen Petrone Pitt

The recruiting and talent evaluator for the Pitt program has steadily grown into a Top 5 program in the US.  Pitt has done more with less in the past and now is in conversations with some of the top recruits in every class (See 2023 All-Americans Olivia Babcock and Torrey Stafford). A smaller class in 2025 due to the abundance of young talent in the Pitt program, Petrone has Pitt consistently on the short list of many of the best in the country.  They are now in conversations with kids they just weren’t before.  

Brad Keller USC Head Coach

The Trojans have always brought in talent under Keller. The 2025 class may be their best (#3 in our updated ranking.)  Budget is no factor for Keller, who plays a heavy role in talent evaluation and is the closer, responsible for bringing in numerous All-Americans during his tenure.  USC has always been a brand name, but joining the Big Ten will add even more exposure and TV opportunities that should only help Keller convince top prospects to head to LA.

Matt Ulmer Oregon Head Coach

The recruiting role of HCs varies from program to program, but Ulmer plays a big role in the week-to-week recruiting along with sealing the deal with recruits.  Ulmer has had a consistent build (similar to a Louisville or Pitt) and he has a legit Top 10 Class of 2025 ready to head to Eugene.  The extra exposure and air-time of playing in the Big Ten should only help Ulmer and his Ducks continue to fight for top West Coast and national prospects.

Jeylen Reyes Nebraska

It’s hard for me to know exactly where to group Reyes.  He’s recruiting on a whole different level (facilities, brand name, budget, media attention) than everyone else on this list, but make no mistake he’s a great recruiter.  Maybe one of the biggest strengths for the highly visible, energetic Reyes is talent-evaluation he is evaluating talent 2-3 years before many programs and is excellent at building relationships at NTDP and the famous Nebraska Dream Team Camps. No one is more active on social media than Reyes and that is another thing that gives him an edge. His demeanor is perfect for recruiting and the Husker class record, during his time at Lincoln speaks for itself. The Class of 2023 was an all-time great and the Huskers battle for #1 Class in the country every single season.

Kathy Jewell and John Karnac Purdue Assistants

Consistency is what Jewell brings to Purdue and that is a perfect way to describe Boilermaker recruiting classes.  Battling in the Big Ten Jewell is respected and established and has helped lock down several All-Americans who may not get the same attention as other Big Ten schools.  Their 2025 Class is another Top 20 Class.  The recent addition of John Klanac, one of the top young recruiters in the game, will make the Boilers even more active, battling for top prospects in their backyard and nationwide.

Jeremy Garcia Duke Assistant Coach

Garcia is entering his 3rd season at Duke after time at Penn State and Texas.  He is the chief recruiter behind a Top 10 2025 Class that includes two All-Americans in Charlotte Glass and

He is showing the ability to be in the conversation for recruits that maybe they shouldn’t be right now and we will have eyes on the Dukies to see if they continue that momentum with the 2026 class.

Texas A+M Staff (Jaime Morrison, Lindsey Walton, Jenn Woods, and Jeff Fiorenza)

Like Vandy, Texas A+M seems to have a crew of great recruiters with some big connections and experience.  Led by Morrison who is one of the top coaches in USA Volleyball circles and has his Texas experience.  The assistant staff of Walton, Woods and now Fiorenza combine excellent talent evaluation skills with energy and excitement.  The staff’s initial recruiting class (2025) could finish in the Top 5 of our rankings and the momentum could continue to a similar result with the 2026’s.

Rachel Morris Indiana

Back to Back Top 20 Recruiting Classes at IU and a program on the rise.  Another hard-working assistant coach is getting the Hoosiers onto short-lists of recruits that might not have happened 4-5 years ago. They are in the volleyball heartland and Bloomington is a college town, Morris is helping ID the talent that Steve Aird signs.

Others to Watch:

Jake Barreau Michigan State

Barreau enters year two at Michigan State after being at Oklahoma.  A relationship builder he helped land a solid class of 2025s for MSU.  Probably more impressive is some of the prospects that he has almost landed and is getting visits from solid recruits.  Building a program in the Big Ten is not easy, but Barreau should help land higher talent which is a big step in winning more matches down the road.  He also does a solid job with transfers in the portal.

Taylor McCloskey Houston Recruiting Coordinator

McCloskey has been at Houston since 2022 and The Cougars seem to be one of a few programs that could be on the verge of making a jump to a consistent Top 15 program.  In 2025 he helped land a class that will finish in the Top 15 nationally.

Brian Toron Penn State

Maybe better at signing top portal transfers (#2 Transfer Class of 2024) Toron is as active on social media as anyone in the NCAA. Penn State has the history and fanbase that helps.

Ellen Andrews Arizona State

Andrews knows her stuff.  She is an excellent talent evaluator and is excellent at building relationships with club coaches.  This will pay dividends soon.  

Her previous stop was with Kairos Volleyball as their recruiting coordinator and helped make that program one of the fastest-rising clubs in the country.  She was vital for connecting many prospects with D1 programs.  Look for her to have an impact on an improved 2026 class for the red-hot Sun Devils.

Michael Runde USD (University of South Dakota)

USD had a Top 10 Recruiting Class in 2024, which is unheard of for a Mid-Major program.

Runde has deep ties in the Omaha area and has been the recruiting lead during Leanne Willimason’s 4 NCAA Tourney appearances as HC of the Coyotes.

Gretchen Reinhart UNLV Recruiting Coordinator

Top 20 Class in 2025 and momentum heading into 2026 recruiting.  

David Hyte BYU

Top 15 Class of 2025 and 2 UA All-Americans

Brian Rosen Creighton

Top 15 Class of 2025s.  Rosen is an excellent evaluator of talent.  He works well with Coach Bernthal-Booth and what she has built in Omaha year after year. Creighton is another program that is in on many high recruits and is also a very attractive camp destination for many ranked prospects. Rosen is a big reason for both.

Ultimate Closers:

Who are some of the best at closing the deal when they have an offer to a prospect?

Jared Elliot Texas: The new highest-paid college coach is landing talent left and right. No program promotes the “glitz and glamour” more than Texas.  Elliot’s program owns the sport right now.  Back to Back Natty’s.  #1 2025 class (one of the best) and #1 2024 Portal Class.  A lot of Winning right now at Texas and athletes preach that his relationships and culture are different than other programs. Whatever he is doing Elliot isn't losing many recruiting battles when he offers a prospect.

Dani Busboom Kelly Louisville: Has a winning culture and has won a national title as a player and as a coach.  She has taken a program from out of the Top 30 and turned it into a household name.  The culture DBK preaches isn’t lip service and word is getting out to recruits that it’s different there.  She is the epitome of a successful, strong, and positive role model for female athletes and has things rolling in Louisville.  Don’t be fooled because she doesn’t land Top 5 prospects right now, they are in the convo for bigger and bigger names every year and the coach knows what to do when she gets their attention.

John Cook Nebraska:  He is the most recognizable coach and figure in the sport and has been for some time.  Nebraska has been the national brand for years.  Facilities are top notch and the budget is as well.  I have to believe when he gets a recruit in his office not many say no.  Plus, nearly every volleyball player (outside of Texas) has dreamed of playing at Nebraska. His visions for promoting his program on center stage have truly set Husker Volleyball a part for years.

Kevin Hambly Stanford:  The silent empire at Stanford.  Championships, Culture and an extremely high educational standard help bring talent to every class.  Hamley and staff land talented classes each year and athletes that are perfect fits talent-wise and academically and they do it in a somewhat quiet way (due to admission standards that don’t let verbals announce until much later than other schools).  As a couple of coaches have told me “Kids just don’t say no to Hamly and Stanford”

Craig Skinner Kentucky: Skinner may be one of the most successful coaches not talked about on a national stage.  Cut his teeth in the Nebraska program and has built Kentucky Volleyball into the SEC Standard for over 20 years.  He’s won a National Title and consistently has brought in talented athletes with subpar facilities.  That changes this Fall when he will have newly renovated multi-million $ practice and match facilities to help him even more.  As respected of a coach as you will find in the sport he has had success in Texas which could be key in 2026, also Skinner’s 2023 class was Top 5 in the country.

Kelly Sheffield Wisconsin: Sheffield has turned Wisconsin into a tough, hard-working program that has challenged Nebraska for tops in the Big Ten.  A perennial power program Sheffield has a National Title under his belt and has turned Wisconsin vs. Nebraska into one of the most intense rivalries in the sport.  Top 5 classes are becoming a norm in Madison led by Sheffield’s success on the court and in recruiting battles.

Jen Flynn Oldenburg Ohio State: Brought in a Top 3 Class of 2023s and always love coaches back at their alma maters.  Oldenburg quickly turned around the Buckeye program with back-to-back Top 5 classes in her first two seasons.  She has Ohio State right in the mix for some of the top athletes in every class.

Darren Tipton