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On the dotted line

On the heels of a disheartening four-win season, BG football coach Gregg Brandon was all smiles yesterday as the team unveiled its 2007 recruiting class.

Brandon spoke highly of the group’s athleticism and speed – an area the coaching staff has focused heavily on improving over the past few seasons.

“To me, it’s a speed-oriented class, an athletic class and we’ve filled some positions we’ve needed to fill,” Brandon said.

Of the 20 players in this year’s class, 17 were recruited from out of state. The state with the most recruits was Florida, with six, showing the coaching staff’s continued trend of heading to the Sunshine State for high school talent.

“I think with the success this program has had down there, with the Omars [Jacobs] and the Chucks [Sharon] and kids that have set records down there, it continues to make sense to recruit that state,” Brandon said.

Brandon also acknowledged the team’s lack of impact on Ohio high school football recruiting, but pointed out the staff worked hard in state but didn’t see the results it may have hoped for.

“We recruit the state of Ohio heavily, and the fact that three players are from the state of Ohio” maybe it was a little bit down year for us in the state but it was certainly not from lack of effort on our part,” Brandon said.

While coaches struggled with quantity in Ohio, they made up for it in quality. The class standout is 5-foot-9, 190 pounds is running back Mark Woolridge out of Walsh Jesuit in Akron, Ohio. Woolridge has been named All-Ohio his past two seasons and rushed for over 1,700 yards with 18 touchdowns in 2006.

The punting and kicking position was a major point of emphasis heading into the winter after the departure of true freshmen kickers Alonso Rojas and Sean Ellis. Instead of going the high school route once again, the staff opted for more experienced kickers by recruiting from junior colleges. Brandon and the staff now feel confident that transfer kickers Nick Iovinelli and Sinisa Vrvilo will be ready to step in and contribute to the team immediately.

“I think that the punter/kicker situation was crucial for us,” Brandon said. “The two kids we signed last year as true freshmen have left the program, and we needed to sign some guys that could come in and do the job.”

Size on both the offensive and defensive lines has piqued the interest of many Falcon faithful. Seven players weigh over 250 pounds – two of whom weigh 290 pounds. For Brandon, this size is a welcome addition to a team that has struggled stopping the opponent’s run game.

“We need some run stoppers,” Brandon said. “We need some physical guys up front.”

While competing against college programs nationwide, Brandon realizes how difficult it is to find that perfect combination of talent and size.

“Those guys are hard to find – big nose guards or defensive tackles that are already 280 [pounds] and are not fat slobs, but big physical guys that can run and make plays,” Brandon said. “Those guys are tough to find.”

As far as how soon this class could have an impact on the field, Brandon stated that any projections “would just be speculation.”

But with the high number of underclassmen who played last year, it’s unlikely this class will see as much playing time as the one before it.

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