CONWAY — In introducing Coastal Carolinas 2014 football recruiting class Wednesday on National Signing Day, head coach Joe Moglia opened his news conference by preempting any questions that might come about the size of the group of signees.
The Chants introduced a 13-player incoming class, which included at least two preferred walk-ons, with players representing seven states. The newcomers include five offensive players, five defensive players and three versatile athletes with positions yet to be determined.
The program added talent at each of the skill position spots on offense, picked up a couple offensive linemen and signed three defensive backs to address a key area of need.
All in all, Moglia felt the Chants achieved their goal even if the final quantity was smaller than what most schools around the country announced Wednesday.
I feel really good about the class that we have. Its a little bit on the small side so I want to be able to address that, Moglia said. Literally two years ago at this conference, we talked about if we were going to compete nationally, we needed to be able to bring in a player that was good enough to compete at the national level No. 1. No. 2, that player, that student-athlete needed to embrace the philosophy of our program. He needed to buy into our mission. ...
I didnt want to do anything at all that would jeopardize any of the standards [of the program]. So we werent going to stretch to bring in a player at the end if we didnt feel good about the respective qualifications. No. 2, its never a bad thing to have a little bit of dry powder in case something else ends up coming up later on. And thirdly, if you recall, last year we had a pretty big class I think we brought in over 30 players from 12 different states so by definition we didnt have as much room this year as we did in the past.
Additionally, the coaches found that in targeting the kind of athletes they believe can help Coastal continue its national climb after reaching the third round of the NCAA FCS playoffs this past season, they were stepping on the toes of and butting heads with programs at the higher FBS level.
Recruiting coordinator Cory Bailey said four or five of the players they thought they had a good chance at ultimately signed with FBS programs.
For us to really get to where we want to be, we need to be recruiting the same kids that the MAC schools are, the Sun Belt schools are, Bailey said. We lost a kid at the end to a Big 10 school that we had committed for four weeks, so thats going to happen. I guess its a good sign, too. It means were recruiting kids who can play at that level.
Bailey didnt mention any specific names, but Derrian Meminger, a defensive end from Sparta, Ga., who was on the Chants radar signed with Indiana on Wednesday.
Coastal offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude also talked of competing with FBS programs for players this time, and said the Chants success last season including a school-record 12-3 finish helped raise the programs profile.
Really all the guys that we targeted on both sides of the ball were guys that were FBS kids, and those primarily were the teams we were battling throughout this whole process, he said. We were involved with a lot of really good guys and thought we had a lot of really good guys and then an FBS school comes in and poaches somebody and youve got to go to the next guy. I think the level of recruiting that we did was very, very high for an FCS school and I think representative of the fact that we made that run.
On the offensive side, the Chants signed one running back (Isaac Martin from Clayton, N.C.), one wide receiver (Omar Black from Marietta, Ga.), one quarterback (Josh Stilley from Cornelius, N.C.) and one offensive lineman (Jack Flood from Miami, Fla.). Another offensive lineman, Hunter Floyd from Myrtle Beach High School, committed as a preferred walk-on, and wide receiver Frankie Richardson from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., joins the team this semester as a grayshirt.
Patenaude thought Flood, a 6-foot-5, 285-pounder projected at right tackle, was a particularly good get for the Chants. He played just two seasons of offensive line at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School after moving from tight end, but he was a player Coastal targeted from the start of the process.
We targeted him in the spring, saw him in a spring scrimmage and hes the guy whos been on the top of our board ever since, Patenaude said. At the end of the day, we had to fight off a lot of Division I schools. The FBS schools came in on him. We had a lot of overlap at the end, and to his credit he stayed with the commitment.
I think one of the things thats tremendously out of control in college football now is the whole idea of committing and decommitting and the whole fanciful thing of guys wearing one hat and pulling out another hat. Its just become really a mockery, so we were really excited about getting Jack. His family is awesome, and I just give them credit for standing by their word when they had opportunities at the FBS level that had come up.
Martin set Cleveland High School records with 5,451 career rushing yards and 81 touchdowns, and could find himself in the mix at running back early in his collegiate career.
Black, a 6-foot-2 receiver, caught 44 passes for 497 yards and 12 touchdowns last season at Hillgrove High School in Georgia.
Stilley, a 6-foot-1 mobile quarterback, finished his four years at William A. Hough High School with 5,650 passing yards and 52 touchdowns, including 2,274 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior. He was on Coastals radar early and impressed coaches at the teams camp last July.
Patenaude likened Stilley to Coastal starting quarterback Alex Ross, saying that hes a heady player with a strong arm and the ability to make plays on the ground. He also indicated the Chants will be hoping to add a veteran transfer to compete for the backup role this season much like grad student Brian Kass did last year in coming over from Wofford.
On defense, the Chants picked up one defensive lineman in tackle Christian Gill from Navarre, Fla. leaving defensive end as one of their unsatisfied needs and two linebackers in Syracuse, N.Y., product Aaron Donalson and McDonough, Ga., product Sedrick Palmer.
But they loaded up at defensive back with three additions in Anthony Chesley, of Brandywine, Md., Daequan Harrison, of Kissimmee, Fla., and Alex McLaughlin, of Littleton, Mass.
Harrison was a quarterback at Osceola High School, and The Citadel had recruited him in that position while Youngstown State and Southern Illinois also showed interest, according to his high school coach Doug Nichols.
He didnt care [what position he played], Nichols said. Southern Illinois wanted him to play slot, The Citadel wanted him to play quarterback. He didnt care. He just wanted a chance to play college football.
Chesley, who had five interceptions, six pass break-ups and four fumble recoveries last season for Gwynn Park High School, also had offers from Toledo and Towson, according to his high school coach Danny Hayes.
McLaughlin also played quarterback this past season and helped Littleton High School to a school-record 543 points while also making four interceptions on defense.
All in all, Coastal defensive coordinator Clayton Carlin feels the Chants did well with their additions in the secondary.
Oh, I think we addressed it, he said. I think weve got some very good skill and athleticism coming. You just look at their numbers and the film, theyre athletic and theyre skilled and theyre fast and theyre sudden. We needed to do that.
The Chants rounded out their recruiting class with versatile athlete James Heft from Covington, Ga., and Delano Walters, a productive running back at Socastee High School, who is a preferred walk-on and does not have an assigned position yet.
I feel really, really good about the quality of our class, Moglia said. ... We had to battle for every one of these players. Theres none of these players that werent being recruited by other people. The vast majority of the players that are coming here, there were many, many other schools that had interest.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.