Twitter Accounts Posing as Coaches to Scam Recruits

Brock Fritz Headshot

A string of hoax Twitter accounts have recently popped up to scam high school football recruits.

A Knoxville News Sentinel story included screenshots of a fake profile – set up under the name Luke Hughes and claiming to be the University of Tennessee football team’s director of player personnel and recruiting coordinator.

A Tennessee athletic department spokesman confirmed to the Knoxville News that the account is a hoax and there is no one on the Tennessee staff named Luke Hughes. Drew Hughes was Tennessee’s former director of player personnel until Monday, when he left for the same role at the University of South Carolina. The Twitter account appeared shortly after, using a picture of Drew Hughes during his two years at Tennessee.

The fake account posted several times on Monday and Tuesday, asking athletes to send highlight tapes for the Tennessee coaches to evaluate. The account also attempted to set up fake recruiting visits and asked for $20 from at least one prospect.

Kenyatta Watson, who consults recruits as the director of football operations at USA Academy, posted a picture of a message between the Luke Hughes account and an athlete.

After the athlete thanked “Coach Hughes,” the Luke Hughes account replied. “No problem man. Okay it’s gonna be a $20 fee that covers transportation, housing, food, and everything else that you’ll be doing when you get out here. It’s just to let us know that your [sic] serious about the visit.

“Spots fill up fast so let me know asap, you can send the $20 via check to our admissions or you can directly cashapp [sic] it to me and I can turn it right now.”

Tennessee isn’t alone. Matthew Edwards, a football data analyst at Virginia, Tweeted on Tuesday that there was an account posing as him.

“I’m not sure how this got started but the account @VAcoachedwards is not me,” Edwards’ real account said. “It is pretending to be me to get high school recruits to send in film. They have been reported to @Twitter. DO NOT send film, respond, or listen if they say anything representing me or UVA.”

Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni called out the @coach_tellison account on Tuesday, saying “Why don’t I know who you are?” to an account that was claiming to be Ohio State’s assistant director of player personnel and recruiting coordinator.

 “The kids ask me a million questions about the recruiting process,” Watson told Rivals, noting that he has also seen fake coach accounts from South Carolina, USC, UAB, Virginia and Florida International in recent days. “This morning, a kid sent me the Tennessee guy and said, ‘Coach, is this real?’ And I was like, ‘No.’ I circled how he spelled recruiter. I told them they have to go on the staff directory and see who these guys are and you have to pay attention to certain things in their profiles.

“First of all, look at how many followers he has, look at when the account was created and things like that. But kids are so hungry for attention and offers, they’re not paying attention to that stuff. They see a college logo and they jump right on it.”

Watson told Rivals that a few weeks ago a lot of recruits started posting about offers from Florida International assistant coach Tim Harris, Jr. Watson contacted Harris, who said he didn’t know anything about it.

“It’s just sad,” Watson said. “It’s just really disgusting because kids just don’t know.”

The @CoachLHughes and @VAcoachedwards were no longer active as of Wednesday morning, while the @coach_tellison account has removed everything except retweets since it was created in October.

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