In the FCS Huddle: Delaware, EWU overcome late recruiting
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If players weren't getting the usual attention from Delaware and Eastern Washington football coaches during the recruiting process, they could be impressed why.
Coaches in both programs were concerned their recruiting was set back by the FCS season being extended into a January championship game for the first time.
Still, the recruits got plenty of "face time" with Delaware and Eastern Washington during their playoff runs.
"A fellow coach and I were talking about how other schools had recruits who had been home-visited and they saw them in school, but we hadn't even been out there," said EWU head coach Beau Baldwin, whose team beat Delaware for its first FCS title. "He said, 'Well, you've had two straight home visits on ESPN2, so you are in some homes.' We felt late getting out, but it was good to be late."
If either program was affected by the late start in recruiting, it wasn't evident when Baldwin and Delaware coach K.C. Keeler showed their excitement over the recruiting classes they unveiled Wednesday on National Letter of Intent Day.
Keeler has plenty of experience in balancing recruiting with playoff games. This season's run to the championship game was Delaware's third in Keeler's nine seasons, which included an FCS title in 2003.
But for the first time, the championship was played three weeks after the semifinals, on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas. EWU rallied for a 20-19 win over the Blue Hens.
Keeler admitted the difficulties of recruiting this year. In his opinion, the banner season outweighed everything.
"There are certainly advantages to being in the NCAA playoffs and being on national television three weeks in a row, but there are also a lot of disadvantages," Keeler said. "The biggest disadvantage is the fact that it is tough to get recruits on campus early on like we normally would have. Typically we would have two recruiting weekends in December and another in early January. Well, during those three recruiting weekends, we had only two players on campus because one game was on a Friday night and the other we were heading out to play for a national championship. But I thought our guys (staff) really did a great job. They put in a lot of hours on the road. We are really happy with the class."
Delaware's balanced 15-member class, which included one junior-college transfer, stretched into 10 states. It included five players from Florida, one of the top states for talent. Keeler said 13 of the 14 players who had scholarship offers during their on-campus visits signed with his program.
The class included: long snapper Nick Boyle from Sussex, N.J., and High Point Regional High; linebacker Patrick Callaway from Lithonia, Ga., and Martin Luther King, who corralled an incredible 177 tackles in 2010; 6-5, 260- pound athletic offensive tackle Ben Curtis from Columbia, Md., and Calvert Hall; defensive backer/kicker/punter Eric Farkas from Heathrow, Fla., and Seminole; quarterback Steven Hughes from Melbourne, Fla., and Palm Beach; and 6-4, 230-pound tight end Matthew Rodriguez from Lake Worth, Fla., and Park Vista.
The JUCO transfer was cornerback Laquan James from Nassau Community College.
In addition to the recruiting class, Keeler announced that two experienced players - defensive tackle Demetrius Hester and defensive back Kasseim Everett - will return to the squad this spring after serving year-long suspensions for violation of team rules.
Delaware Blue Hens
Player (Pos) HT WT Hometown (High School)
Derek Battle LB 6-2 185 Charlotte, NC (Providence)
Nick Boyle TE 6-4 235 Sussex, NJ (High Point Regional)
Patrick Callaway LB 5-10 205 Lithonia, GA (Martin Luther King)
Ben Curtis OL 6-5 260 Columbia, MD (Calvert Hall)
Eric Farkas DB/P/K 6-0 185 Heathrow, FLA (Seminole)
Steven Hughes QB 6-2 195 Melbourne, FLA (Palm Bay)
Jerel Harrison WR 6-0 180 Richmond, VA (Varina)
Laquan James DB 5-11 182 Syracuse, NY (Cicero-N. Syracuse/Nassau CC)
*Michael Johnson WR 6-2 205 Gainesville, FlA (Gainesville)
Michael Kastel DL 6-7 225 St. Charles, IL (Phillips Exeter Academy)
Christian Marchena OL 6-2 285 Hazlet, NJ (Raritan)
Matt Rodriguez TE 6-4 225 Lake Worth, FlA (Park Vista)
Logan Shultz DL 6-3 275 Orrtanna, PA (Gettysburg)
David Tinsley DL 6-0 252 Seffner, FLA (Armwood)
Jeff Williams LB 6-2 192 Freeport, NY (Freeport)
* - Denotes Transfer
The recruiting focus for Baldwin and his Eastern Washington coaching staff was offensive linemen.
"For obvious reasons, the championship has a very positive effect, and I think it can continue to help us, particularly in the next few years," Baldwin said. "We feel like doors are opening, but in other areas we almost feel like we're late getting out because we played all the way until Jan. 7. For obvious reasons we're not going to complain about the length of the season, but it does affect our recruiting."
The 22-member class - 20 from high schools and two transfers from the University of Washington - included six offensive linemen. There were two 300- pounders, although 6-2, 310-pound Thomas Gomez from Graham Kapowsin High School in Graham, Wash., may switch over to the defensive line.
"We feel really good about some of the positions we recruited to," said Baldwin, whose team will return eight starters on each side of the ball. "We didn't necessarily lose a ton off last year's team, but a certain area we wanted to recruit into was the offensive line. That was an area where we wanted to build more depth and get some young players in here. We were able to sign a large group."
Although quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell will return as a senior next season after winning most outstanding player honors in the national championship game, Eastern Washington's recruiting class had a signal-caller - Vernon Adams from Pasadena, Calif., and Alemany High School.
The University of Washington transfers, both sophomores, were running back Demitrius Bronson and Andru Pulu, who both played for the Huskies in 2009. Eastern Washington added two other high school running backs - Jordan Talley from Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., and Quincy Forte from Vacaville High School in Fairfield, Calif. - having lost Co-Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year Taiwan Jones as an early entry to the 2011 NFL Draft.
Eastern Washington Eagles
Player (Pos) HT WT Hometown (High School)
Vernon Adams QB 6-0 180 Pasadena, CA (Alemany)
T.J. Boatright TE 6-5 225 Vancouver, WA (Union)
Jason Boyce WR/TE 6-4 225 Kent, WA (Kentwood)
*Demitrius Bronson RB 5-10 225 Kent, WA (Kentwood/Washington)
Cassidy Curtis OL 6-7 260 Denver, CO (Cherry Creek)
Isaiah Davis DB 5-11 175 Bremerton, WA (South Kitsap)
Clay DeBord OL 6-6 250 Asotin, WA (Asotin)
Jay Deines OL 6-4 250 Issaquah, WA (Issaquah)
David Delgado DL 6-3 320 American Canyon, CA (St.Patrick- St.Vincent)
Quincy Forte RB 5-11 185 Fairfield, CA (Vacaville)
Thomas Gomez OL 6-3 310 Graham, WA (Graham Kapowsin)
Shaquille Hill WR 5-10 180 Fremont, CA (Brookside Christian)
Anthony King WR 6-1 180 Elk Grove, CA (Franklin)
Cody McCarthy LB 6-1 233 Boise, ID (Bishop Kelly)
Aaron Neary OL 6-4 250 Richland, WA (Hanford)
*Andru Pulu DL 6-2 280 Federal Way, WA (Federal Way/Washington)
Todd Raynes WR 6-2 185 Kenmore, WA (Inglemoor)
Jordan Talley RB 5-10 180 Portland, OR (Jesuit)
Julius Tevaga OL 6-3 290 Bothell, WA (Archbishop Murphy)
Jordan Tonani DB 6-0 180 Spokane, WA (Ferris)
Tevin Williams DB 6-2 190 Belfair, WA (North Mason)
Jake Withnell TE 6-5 225 Salem, OR. (South Salem)
* - Denotes Transfer
02/02 16:33:07 ET