CONWAY — After scrambling last winter to assemble his first recruiting class in just a little more than a month following his hiring as Coastal Carolina head football coach, Joe Moglia and his staff had a full year this time to build the Chanticleers’ 2013 class.
And apparently it has been a busy 12 months in that regard for the Chants’ coaches.
Coastal introduced a 30-player recruiting haul Wednesday on National Signing Day, marking what is believed to be the largest incoming class in program history and well more than the 13-player group formally announced a year ago. The Chants did not differentiate between full-scholarship, partial-scholarship and preferred walk-ons in releasing the list of additions, but the full spectrum of players spans 11 states – which is also the most ever represented in a Coastal football recruiting class.
“I think we’ve got a really, really good recruiting class based on everything that we know now, based on the way we evaluate, based on the type of homework we’ve done,” Moglia said. “I recognize that happens to be more numbers than in the history of football at Coastal Carolina, but it’s not a numbers thing. We are announcing 30 guys that fit what we [are looking for].
“We made a big deal last year saying that we’re not going to try to bring in an extra couple of kids just because we have some scholarships left over. We’re not going to do that. We had the same standards this year. The difference was we had an entire staff that had the opportunity to work for the entire year to put this class together with tremendous support from the rest of the institution.”
Moglia made a point to note that seven players from the state of South Carolina comprised the largest contingent of the recruiting class after the program had a noticeable dearth of instate signees last year.
Under former head coach David Bennett, the program culled the bulk of its incoming talent from South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, so the small return from Georgia is a noticeable change from the previous staff. But the Chants found some notable talent elsewhere, landing a handful of prospects from Virginia (five), Florida (four) and Pennsylvania (four), three from North Carolina, two from New Jersey and one each from Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland and Mississippi.
The coaches had placed an emphasis on adding depth and talent at offensive line, defensive line and throughout the secondary and satisfied those needs at least in terms of numbers with seven offensive linemen, six defensive linemen and seven defensive backs to go with three receivers, two linebackers, a quarterback, a running back, a tight end, a punter/kicker and a long snapper.
“I think we’ve done exactly what we wanted to do,” Moglia said. “... We felt going into the recruiting [process] we needed a great player wherever we were able to get a great player, but we needed a real emphasis on the offensive line, the defensive line and the secondary, and if you look at our numbers, that’s exactly where our emphasis is.”
Before addressing this specific class, Moglia spent a solid 15 minutes prefacing his news conference by detailing the Chants’ approach, process and philosophy in recruiting. One of his points was that he and his staff are not concerned with any recruiting service rankings or what other schools think of a player, but those are nevertheless popular talking points for fans and the Chants landed a few especially intriguing prospects by those standards.
Tight end A.J. Sattinger (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) is ranked a three-star (out of five) recruit by ESPN/Scout and caught 13 career touchdown passes at Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla. He initially committed to Temple in September before head coach Steve Addazio left the Owls for Boston College. Sattinger no longer felt he fit into Temple’s plans and re-opened his recruitment. He also had FBS offers from Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Ohio and Massachusetts, according to Countryside coach Jared Davis.
“A.J. is a very physical, physical player and an extremely good blocker. He takes a lot of pride in it,” Davis said. “We’ve rushed for about somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 yards in the last two years and a big part of it is because of A.J. He’s [also] a very good route runner, has very good hands, very good at catching the ball.”
Offensive lineman Nicholas Bonaparte (6-4, 295), from Dunbar High School in Baltimore, is ranked a two-star (out of five) prospect by Rivals.com and ranked as the best center from Maryland.
Wide receiver Frankie Richardson (6-2, 185) is another two-star recruit according to Rivals.com and comes from the vaunted St. Thomas Aquinas High School program in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which finished ranked 11th in the country by USA Today this past season. He had 32 catches for 421 yards and will grayshirt, meaning he’ll enroll at the university next January.
“Frankie’s probably the best athlete in our school – football, basketball, baseball,” Aquinas coach Rocco Casullo said. “Just a tremendous all-around athlete.”
Richardson was looking at Gardner-Webb and Wagner before those programs made changes to their coaching staff.
“Gardner-Webb got a new staff, Wagner’s offensive coordinator left and Coastal Carolina called and they had a situation where a couple receivers weren’t sure if they were going to commit,” Casullo said. “But Frankie went up there and loved the school and said, ‘I don’t even mind grayshirting.’”
And as for instate talent, running back Osharmar Abercrombie (5-10, 190) comes to Coastal after rushing for 1,487 yards and 20 touchdowns last season for Emerald High School in Greenwood and provides the Chants’ backfield with perhaps its best break-away speed option.
All that said, beyond the two junior college transfers included in this class – offensive lineman Jon Jenkins and defensive back Imir Sanders – Moglia was hesitant to suggest that any of the newcomers would be looked at to make an immediate impact next season.
While National Signing Day is one of hype and optimism, Moglia preached patience and perspective.
“Everybody expects a freshman to be able to come in and be a superstar because he was a superstar in high school,” he said. “The reality is you’ve got five years for your guys to be able to grow. ... To have too high an expectation for a younger player is not realistic on our part. We’re not trying to have a great year; we’re trying to build a great program that can consistently represent Coastal Carolina at the national level.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.