Add a couple of well-known City Series players, a couple of lanky and long wide receivers, some beef along the lines and the University of Akron 2013 football recruiting class is complete.
Zips coach Terry Bowden and his staff assembled a group of 18 young men that they hope will fill some needs for the team that finished with its third consecutive one-win season.
Bowden and his staff signed four linebackers, an area of the team that needed shoring up. Two of those players should be familiar to high school football fans in Akron.
Deon’tae Moore, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, played for Kenmore High School and dominated in the City Series. The other, Jerome Lane at 6-4, 210, starred on the Firestone football and basketball teams.
Moore visited the UA campus a few times with friends, and after taking a visit to Eastern Michigan, he found his comfort in Akron.
“Akron just fit me the best. It just felt good to stay close to family,” Moore said by phone Wednesday. “I just liked the players I met on the team and the coaches are great.”
The home factor appealed to Lane, as well.
“It’s my home city and I feel it wouldn’t be right to take my talent anywhere else,” he said. “And they’re giving me an opportunity to play basketball and football.”
Because of his overall athletic prowess, Lane is a nice addition to the class of 2013, but if Bowden weren’t the coach, his decision might have been different.
“I don’t think I would have considered it,” he said. “I had a few people I know who went to Akron and they didn’t like the coaching staff and I didn’t want to go through the same thing they were going through.”
Keeping solid local talent in just Bowden’s second year at UA is something to note. Players who might have gone to other Mid-American Conference schools are considering staying closer to home. Bowden credited the facilities and the team.
“If our players were having a bad experience, they wouldn’t lie,” he said. “I think the players were instrumental in believing in the future of this program and where it’s going.”
Bowden’s Florida ties paid off with the addition of C.J. Mizell, another intriguing linebacking prospect from Tallahassee. He took the long way to UA as a former four-star recruit who initially was signed with Florida State by defensive coordinator Chuck Amato when he was still there before ending up at Washington State under coach Mike Leach. Mizell was eventually dismissed from the Cougars.
It’s one of those gambles that could pay off in a huge way if Mizell is ready to do the things necessary to stay on the field.
“You have to take a chance on a super playmaker,” Bowden said, “and his problem was he wasn’t mature academically and didn’t take it seriously. It’s the kind [of player] you want to take a chance on, one that you have a coach at his position, who signed him out of high school and knows his family.”
Bowden and his staff hit another problem area hard by signing four offensive linemen, including two with impressive size. Cedric Brittnum, a junior college transfer from ASA Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y., stands a towering 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds. He could press for playing time when the season rolls around.
Canton McKinley’s Kevin Mills, 6-5, 310, potentially adds depth to a unit that’s lacked in that area.
Zips fans are getting a good look at the type of wide receivers that Bowden likes to have in his spread offense. UA signed two — Mykel Traylor-Bennett from Reynoldsburg and Austin Wolf from Lebanon — who come in at an identical 6-4 and 200 pounds. With that type of size, they should be able to go get the ball when necessary.
“They run a four-wide. I thought I could do a lot of things out of that,” Traylor-Bennett said Wednesday afternoon by phone. “I’m aggressive. I go up and get the ball. I can find separation when the defender is sticking me.”
The class is made up of seven recruits from Ohio, four from Florida, three from Pennsylvania and one each from Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts and Maryland.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.