Sports Illustrated announces the creation of SI All-American, a comprehensive celebration of high school athletes and deep coverage of collegiate recruiting. Veteran recruiting expert John Garcia Jr. will lead the program as SI’s director of recruiting, reporting to co-editor-in-chief Ryan Hunt. On Monday, at SI’s Sportsperson of the Year award ceremony in New York City, the new franchise unveiled the first member of its 2019 All-American class.
For nearly a decade, Garcia was a leading college football recruiting analyst at CBS Sports and his arrival marks an additional investment by Sports Illustrated in high school and college sports. In October, SI signed renowned college sports columnist Pat Forde and launched more than two-dozen collegiate team channels.
“Recruiting is the lifeblood of college athletics,” said Hunt. “Comprehensive coverage of the next wave of football and basketball stars was one of the biggest things missing at Sports Illustrated, and we’re excited to begin to thoroughly build that out with John.”
SI All-American will feature extensive coverage of high school football and basketball recruiting and will honor the nation’s elite sport-by-sport athletes as part of its All-American teams. This year’s first inductee is Bryce Young, Sports Illustrated’s #1 ranked HS quarterback in the nation. Young, from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, threw for 4,528 yards in 14 games this season and accounted for 68 total touchdowns. He’s committed to Alabama and is scheduled to enroll in January.
Garcia’s addition signals Sports Illustrated’s intention to expand its college recruiting coverage and own the category. Snaring him from CBS and Forde from Yahoo! boosts SI’s already formidable college sports coverage.
“I worked with John for the better part of a decade at Fox and CBS and he’s the ideal candidate to lead our new SI All-American program and recruiting coverage,” said Scott Kennedy, who oversees team coverage for SI. “His reporting is outstanding and it’s built on his strong rapport with players and high school coaches. His player evaluation skills are the best in the business.”
Garcia Jr. holds a bachelor’s degree from Averett University in Virginia and a Master’s in broadcast and digital journalism from the highly regarded program at Syracuse University. He is already associated with Sports Illustrated recruiting coverage, appearing on National Signing Day shows that were co-branded with Scout.com, another coalition sports network started by Maven founder James Heckman.
“This is a team that revolutionized the college football recruiting industry, and I’m honored to help lead their latest generation,” Garcia Jr. said. “Discovery of great talent and following the recruiting battles are a never-ending, intense story.”
Heckman also was the founder of Rivals.com. Rivals literally invented digital recruiting coverage and was the first to use star ratings for prospects, a recruiting database, and launched the first nation-wide, unified combine for recruits.
Rivals.com is an antecedent of the Maven coalition model of independent journalists and brands on a single tech and advertising platform. Much of Heckman’s Rivals team remains with him at Maven and Sports Illustrated.
“I’m excited to get back into college football and basketball recruiting, where it all began,” Heckman said. “We’re definitely going to take no prisoners when it comes to competing in this space. We will provide college football fans the best product imaginable. Give us a year and SI will be on top, where it belongs. It all starts with talented journalists and there’s no question that John Garcia Jr. is a rising star in the business, the most authentic and hardest-working recruiting maven in the country, and will lead the next generation of the business our team invented.”