GSU’s recruiting class nationally ranked
STATESBORO — ESPN’s RecruitingNation nationally ranked the 2015 Georgia Southern football recruiting class.
The class of 22 new student-athletes was ranked 73rd and was the only Sun Belt Conference recruiting class in the top 75. For the second year in a row, the Eagles have posted the highest-ranked recruiting class in their conference.
GSU will open the 2015 football season Sept. 5 at West Virginia and will host Western Michigan and The Citadel along with a four-game Sun Belt Conference schedule.
As Georgia Southern football coach Willie Fritz stepped to the podium for the Eagles’ Signing Day news conference Feb. 4, the sometimes-overblown hyperbole of the day wasn’t lost on him.
“Well, like everybody will say today, we’re very excited about the guys we’ve signed,” Fritz joked.
Still, the 22 talented members of Georgia Southern’s latest signing class figure to be anything but a laughing matter. Whether being judged by arbitrary star systems, Internet hype or interest from other perennially powerful programs, the Eagles’ 2015 signing class is its most talented yet.
After having to hurry through the 2014 recruiting class thanks to his hiring in early January, Fritz credited his staff for coming through with great results after a full year’s effort.
Among the new Eagles were heavy additions to two points of focus — the defensive secondary and the offensive line.
NaQuan Howard, Jessie Liptrot and Christian Matthew — who flipped his commitment from Wake Forest to GSU a week ago — figure to become dependable options at the cornerback position. Jay Bowdry, Lane Ecton, Markeis Hallback and Joshua Moon all come in as defensive backs, but Fritz touted their ability to be versatile and settle into several possible roles.
One of the biggest concerns for this year’s class was the offensive line. Plenty of lineman were signed — and many redshirted — in 2014, but the departure of the majority of last year’s starting unit called for even more attention.
Two of the Eagles’ biggest signees — both figuratively and literally — are junior-college transfer Max Magana and Roscoe Byrd, who elected to come to Statesboro after his former team, Alabama-Birmingham, was shut down at the end of last season.
“It was very important to us to have guys who could step in right away,” Fritz said. “Roscoe is a guy with over 30 starts and an all-conference level player. In Max, we see a guy who is big and long and has a lot of potential.”
That duo joins three current high-school seniors as offensive-line signees. Even for the younger players, the assumption that they can contribute right away was implied during their recruitment.
“We’re not in the business of redshirting guys,” Fritz said. “Last year, we may have made some decisions based on the fact that we weren’t bowl eligible, but I told everyone today to get right to work and prepare to work for a spot on the field.”
Other signees included a pair of tight ends — a new position for the Eagles since Fritz’s arrival — in Kevin Ackerman and J.L. Banks.
Georgia Southern added a few pieces at running back and along the defensive front seven as well.
At wide receiver — which the Eagles would like to see more production from — the team added on both ends of the spectrum. Malik Henry possesses blazing speed that can stretch the field while 6-foot-6 D’Ondre Glenn will be one of the largest GSU downfield targets in history.
Hoping to eventually find both of them with aerial strikes will be Hampton McConnell, the lone quarterback signee of 2015.
From here, the next step will be offseason training.
Georgia Southern will hold spring practice in April and Fritz made note of the time made available by the NCAA during the summer as key in getting even the newest Eagles up to speed in time for next season.
The 2015 campaign kicks off Sept. 5 as the Eagles travel to West Virginia.