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University of Akron Zips blog

Liveblog - Signing Day coverage

By mrasor Published: February 4, 2009

Football
Refresh your browser every half-hour or so for updates...
Today is the first day that a high school football player can sign a binding National Letter of Intent. It binds the university to provide a scholarship to the athlete for one year. It binds the athlete to attend the institution for one year. Basically, it's a huge relief to all parties involved. Unless you're Bubba Walther, the signing also marks the point where other schools must cease recruiting you.
The NLI tradition began in 1964 with seven conferences and eight independents. Now it has grown to become the protocol for 610 institutions in Division I and Division II.
For hardcore football fans, it has almost become a holiday. You can analogize it to a hypothetical glorious day when the NFL Draft (incoming players) and all free agents sign with their new teams (transfers). On the other hand, the true dividends normally don't pay until two years later. What do you think?
[poll id="8"]
Updated: 8:55 a.m.

    Rivals.com is adding another recruit this morning...
    Mike Thomas, athlete, Greenbelt, Md. Offers: Akron Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 158 Speed: Not listed Notes: Thomas does not have a Scout.com profile. Rivals.com only has a picture of him. It is a nice mean mug, though.

Here is the rest of Rivals.com's list, combined with Scout.com's list. At this point, Rivals.com's list is more complete. We can use the compilation below to see who decommitted at the 11th hour...
Bill Alexander David Anderson Deonte Ball Jake Brandt Jake Delmonico Jerrod Dillard Blake Fraley Devon Frieson Randy Greenwood Abdallah Homayed Jordan Houser Jeremy LaFrance Anthony Meriwether Patrick Nicely Joe Petrides Nolan Procter Jon Root Adam Steiner Mike Thomas Phil Tonga Joe Vidovic Diamond Weaver Grant Williams
The press conference today is at 3 p.m. GoZips.com will show it live here. Until then, GoZips.com also will provide a list of NLI commitments as they come off the fax machine. So far, I don't see any list.
A newspaper from Hamilton County, Ohio says a punter/kicker named Josh Couch will sign with Akron. I cannot find an official Couch profile anywhere. It looks like he has some sort of online presence.
Sean Farr told the Baltimore Sun that he never really committed to Akron. The three-star wide receiver from Maryland admitted he was considering Akron, however, before he chose Louisville.
The Plain Dealer talked to this year's marquee recruit, Patrick Nicely, who will redshirt next season and expects to compete for the starting job in 2010.
Updated: 9:40 a.m.
Still nothing on GoZips.com. Some faxes must have come in by now...
    Here are some notable verbals around the MAC
    Ball State -- three-star RB Eric Williams, who had offers from Louisville and Wake Forest Central Michigan -- three-star Florida athlete Ronnie Kennedy, who had offers from Auburn, South Carolina and Minnesota Eastern Michigan -- three-star Chicago linebacker Darius Moffett, who had offers from Cincinnati, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas State, Louisville and Nebraska Miami -- three-star offensive guard John Anevski, who had an offer from Louisville Ohio -- three-star safety Xavier Hughes, who had an offer from West Virginia Temple -- three- star, 6-6 receiver Deon Miller Toledo -- four- star cornerback Jermaine Robinson, who de-committed from Akron

Updated: 10:45 a.m.
GoZips.com has its list of signees posted.
Of the players listed above, here are the missing names:
Ball Frieson Thomas Tonga Weaver
It is still early. The discouraging thing is that three of these players (Ball, Tonga and Weaver) are three-star players.
Updated: 1 p.m.
Rivals.com reports that Christopher Henderson has signed a letter of intent.
He is a four-star defensive lineman. More coming after I get out of this meeting. Updated: 1:06 p.m.
Tonga and Weaver have signed. As GoZips88 wrote below, may the 3-3-5 rest in peace.
Updated: 1:56 p.m.
The GoZips.com report says that LaFrance will have two years of eligibility left. Tonga and Weaver will play three years as a Zip.
Let me run off a list of defensive linemen for you: Almondo Sewell, Ryan Bain, Dan Marcoux, Henderson, Tonga, Shawn Lemon, Hasan Hazime, Deni Odofin, Joe Rash, James Harvey and Wallace Pendleton. There are five potential All-MAC performers there (Lemon, Bain, Sewell, Henderson and Tonga). Four of them played as freshmen last season (Rash, Harvey, Hazime and Odofin), and they did pretty well. Pendleton is at least serviceable. That said, I do not buy into the theory that defensive linemen are so impossible to recruit. With a corps of 10 young, talented linemen, I completely expect J.D. Brookhart to say today that, at the very least, they are re-evaluating their defense.
Also note that the GoZips.com list is final. The players not included are Thomas (who was added only today), Frieson (who committed last summer) and Ball (a juco cornerback with three other offers). I will try to find out what happened with them today.
Updated: 2:10 p.m.
    Press conference quotes from Brookhart
    "We were able to showcase the stadium with the recruits being able to get into the stadium. That continues to add to the attraction to the university. In the end, our people are the reason players choose to play here."
    "We stayed on track very well, continuing to recruit character."
    "From the last two years, we've retained 40 of 41 players."
    "We got a number of junior college players we expect to come in and compete."
    "We addressed a lot of areas. Who comes in to help, we will find out. James Harvey is a guy who came in here as a true freshman and played. No one recruited him in Division I"
    "There has been attrition here and there. This total will end up being close (to 85). There are always the grayshirts."
    " Jose Cruz has left the program. I believe that's it."
    "We are gonna lose four (wide receivers) after next season. We had to continue to build that position."
    "The last one (is the one I was most excited about). Last year was very much an aberration. We had three guys de-commit on 10 p.m. Tuesday. Phil Tonga was the last one in."
    "I don't know what we lost. We hit what we wanted."
    "I'm a little bit skeptical except after last year, perhaps unfairly, to kids these days. There is a sense of finality. We get to take a breath."
    Quarterback "is the most difficult position to come in as a freshman. We ask a lot of our quarterbacks mentally. It is very logical that he would redshirt. He (Nicely) is a fine talent that we can't wait to get our hands on."
    New facilities "continue to shock people. You walk him in the Rec Center and it's 'wow.' You walk him in the Field House and it's 'wow.' I continue to walk into the Field House backward to see their expressions."
    On the 3-3-5: "We are discussing a lot of different things we're doing. The stack will always be part of it. We are not in a football mode until tomorrow."
    On geography: "You don't see a lot of South Florida kids (on our roster). We put cornerbacks coach Emmanuel McDaniel in Georgia, where he grew up. He has done a great job of working his contacts. This year was our first year in Detroit and Michigan. (Defensive line) coach ( Dana) Chambers made great headway there."
    On showing off InfoCision Stadium to recruits: "The last month of January, we got to stand in the endzone, field level. Every week, there is something new."
    On filling the coaching vacancies of Bill Bleil and Joe Moorhead: "I've made a lot of phone calls the past two days."
    On last season: "We were 16 points away from being 9-3. We've had the lead and given it away. We had great opportunity. We can't give that away. That will very much be a focus of the football team."

    Player comments
    Bill Alexander -- "Very competitive football down there (in Georgia). Very versatile player. Great hips, great acceleration. We will work him at corner.'
    Broderick Alexander -- "Came up during the year unofficially and enjoyed the place. Very good football team. Very big, rocked-up kid. Would be able to come in and compete."
    David Anderson -- "David Anderson reminds me so much of Troy Gilmer. We are really excited about Troy for next year. (Anderson is) physical, likes to run. We got a steal with him."
    Jake Brandt -- "Can play o-line, d-line. He's that type of athlete. A number of Big Ten offers. He's in line with what we've done at our offensive line position. We take tall, athletic tight end bodies. Tremendous athlete at that position."
    Josh Couch -- "Big time talent. John (Stec) has got one more year here, then Josh has the opportunity after that. Big kid, too. 6-2, 220. Big-time potential."
    Jake Delmonico -- "Jake earned his scholarship in camp. He's a competitive son of a gun. We'll start him at corner. We'll move him to safety if need be. He reminds me of John Mackey."
    Jerrod Dillard -- "Tall wide receiver. We saw his tape and fell in love with him. The grades, the character. We like his parents. He's going to be a 200-some pound kid. Much like Nadir Brown."
    Blake Fraley -- "Tough-nosed linebacker. Likes to hit, likes to play, works hard. Good family."
    Dee Friesen -- "Fast slotback for us. He's a return guy. Give the ball to him on reverses."
    Randy Greenwood -- "Extremely impressive on tape. High jumps 6-9. Tremendous athlete."
    Chris Henderson -- "Non-qualifier out of high school. His opportunity is huge if he gets his grades in line. You watch him on tape and he was a fullback who was fast, athletic. He's paying his dues. The upside to him is tremendous."
    Abdullah Homayed -- "He's a linebacker right now. This is going to be a big kid, huge frame. He brings his hips when he tackles. Neat family. I can't imagine how big he's gonna end up getting."
    Jordan Houser -- "Because of not getting test scores, he did not get attention. He did not give out his tapes until he took his tests. I've known his coach for a long time, and I appreciate that. We'll put him at corner."
    Jeremy LaFrance -- "Good-sized receiver. Great return guy. He was a victim of the Katrina hurricane. He's taking advantage of his opportunities. Very explosive player. Dangerous player."
    Anthony Meriwether -- "Another big wide receiver. He's just starting to mature. He has unbelievable ball skills. Good size, good speed. Your prototype boundary receiver."
    Patrick Nicely -- "I went to a number of camps, and he's the best quarterback I saw. His family were a little shocked when they first came down here. Then things changed (i.e. Bowling Green fired its coach). We stayed in contact with him. They gave us an opportunity. He knows what it takes. He's into it. Big-time arm. (After looking at his) junior tape, I questioned his arm. He said, 'Coach, I can't let loose or those guys won't catch it.' More importantly, it was the intangibles."
    Joe Petrides -- "I don't know how big he's going to be. Eventually, he's going to be an offensive lineman. Father is a high school football coach. He has been trained well."
    Nolan Proctor -- "One of our first commitments. Neat family. They came down recently here. He's a return guy, a corner, a receiver. Great change of direction. Great speed."
    Jon Root -- "He has played a lot of split receiver at that size. What he's going to be in two years is going to be a way different player. He's going to go from a good receiver to a very athletic tight end."
    Adam Steiner -- "Brian Flaherty was our long snapper and did a great job. (Adam) has the talent to be as good as Brian or better. He's very athletic. We worked him out at linebacker and tight end. Very fast. He was a 4.6 kid."
    Phil Tonga -- "Big kid, very athletic. When we saw him in the spring, he was a linebacker. He has some very good 40 times posted. Whether they're true or not... If they're close to that, they're good. We expect him to come in and compete for a starting job. He hung with the commitment when he had some other opportunities."
    Joe Vidovic -- "Joe has only played a couple of years. (He) thought he was going to be a basketball recruit. Big athlete. Joe's gonna be a great player."
    Diamond Weaver -- "Diamond Dream Weaver. That's his real middle name. Very good cornerback. Explosive. Plays the ball well in the air. He is a self-made man. Very mature. He just gets it. He has befriended a couple guys on the team. He is a guy we see with leadership skills."
    Grant Williams -- "We saw him down at Ohio State. He came to our camp in late July and solidified what we thought we was -- an athletic wide-out/tight end."

Updated: 4:02 p.m.
    Other notes:
    Here's the deal with the three guys I said were missing. Ball didn't pass any of his first-semester classes in juco. By January, the coaches knew he wouldn't be on the team. Friesen DID send in his letter. I must have overlooked his name. Thomas never received an offer.
    Henderson's eligibility is not a sure thing. He's such a huge talent that the coaches figured he's worth the risk.
    The coaches worried about the following players decommitting: LaFrance, Nicely, Weaver, Tonga and Henderson. Mostly, those were the guys whom other schools were still pursuing. With Tonga, in particular, Reno Ferri was worried that a California team would make him an offer to play in his home state. Until getting a call from Jim Tressel, the coaches were worried that the Buckeyes would offer a scholarship to Nicely. In the past, Tressel has tried not to mine MAC schools for recruits.
    Two players to add to this class: Will Fleming and Joe Pachuta. Both were grayshirts in 2008. That means they did not take a full class load, and their five-year clock did not begin.
    My personal opinion is that this class is as solid as any other. The difference between this recruiting class and previous ones, however, is that Akron need not rely on freshmen to fill in gaps on the roster. With the exception of tight end and maybe one defensive back position, the two-deep is solid. I would give this class an A-. What do you think?

[poll id="9"]
Updated: 4:13 p.m.
Making sense of the rankings
Rivals.com's MAC rankings:
Kent State Akron Western Michigan Northern Illinois Miami Ohio Central Michigan Toledo Bowling Green Ball State Temple Buffalo Eastern Michigan
These rankings are skewed because they value quantity over quality. The top two teams, Kent and Akron, have both quality and quantity. Akron leads the MAC with seven players having three or more stars. Average stars per player is probably the most probative statistic, and Akron trails only Toledo in that regard.
Scout.com rankings:
Central Michigan Bowling Green Temple Western Michigan Ball State Ohio Kent State Northern Illinois Toledo Miami Akron Eastern Michigan Buffalo
Scout.com historically has lacked thoroughness in rating players destined for mid-majors. In fact, the site only gave three stars to nine recruits in the entire conference. Scout.com had never even heard of more than a handful of Akron's recruits. Rivals.com is certainly superior for mid-major football.
Updated: 5:05 p.m.
    Fun facts from UA media relations:
    Bill Alexander placed eighth in Georgia's state wrestling tournament as a junior.
    It appears that almost every one of these recruits was born in the 1990s. (On three, we all say: "Wow, I feel old!")
    Josh Couch averaged 44.1 yards per punt in his senior year. His longest was 70 yards. He hit a 46-yard field goal in high school, too.
    Adam Steiner's father, Charles Steiner, played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills.
    Phil Tonga comes from Los Angeles Harbor College, the same juco that produced Deryn Bowser.
    Joe Vidovic was born in Bosnia. His father was a professional soccer player.
    Grant Williams has a neighbor in Louisville, Ky., whose father ( Jim Weiss) played at Akron in 1957. (Nice snooping, Mike Cawood!)

Updated: 5:19 p.m. (End transmission)
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