CHENEY -- The late start to recruiting wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Eastern Washington football team.
The Eagles trek to the NCAA Division I Football Championship delayed its bulk of recruiting for about a month, but Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin was reminded of the silver lining to having its last two games of the season broadcast live on ESPN2.
On Wednesday, Eastern’s late start yielded a group of 20 players who signed letters of intent to attend EWU. Included is Vernon Adams, a quarterback from Pasadena, Calif., and Alemany High School. In his final two seasons, he passed for 5,234 yards and 49 touchdowns, and rushed for another 1,263 yards and 19 more scores in leading Alemany to an overall record of 22-5.
Eastern also added a pair of University of Washington transfers -- running back Demitrius Bronson and Andru Pulu -- who both played for the Huskies in 2009. Pulu is already attending EWU, and Bronson has signed a financial aid agreement and will attend EWU in the spring quarter.
Eastern signed a large group of high school linemen -- large both is size and in numbers. Two 300-pound players were among them, as well as offensive linemen standing 6-foot-6 and 6-7. A total of seven linemen -- including six projected to play on the offensive side of the ball -- were signed as increased depth at the offensive line position was the main emphasis for the Eagles.
“We feel really good about some of the positions we recruited to,” said Baldwin, whose team lost just 14 seniors from its 13-2 squad. “We didn’t necessarily lose a ton off last year’s team, but a certain area we wanted to recruit into was the offensive line. That was an area where we wanted to build more depth and get some young players in here. We were able to sign a large group.”
Baldwin expects most of the players in this class to redshirt this fall, then have the chance to compete for playing time in 2012.
The Eagles signed a pair of talented running backs, including Jordan Talley from Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., and Quincy Forte from Vacaville High School in Fairfield, Calif. Talley rushed for 2,661 yards as a senior and Forte had 1,248.
That trend of quality over quantity was the emphasis at most positions.
“We were able to fill-in one or two players at each position throughout our roster,” Baldwin explained. “We feel really good about the players we signed and where we are as a team.”
The two 300-pounders the Eagles signed included David Delgado, a 6-4, 320-pound defensive lineman from St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in American Canyon, Calif. Thomas Gomez from Graham Kapowsin High School in Graham, Wash., is 6-2, 310, and is listed as an offensive lineman, but may end up on the defensive line.
“High school players are just getting bigger,” said Baldwin. “We’ve been very good around here about signing lean players and developing them, and we still want to do that. But everywhere we go there are just bigger players and it’s happening at every level with the signing classes and what they are bringing in.”
Baldwin also was pleased to recruit so many players he termed as “true football players.” One is linebacker Cody McCarthy from Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Idaho. He was a two-time All-State performer and the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Idaho after leading his team to the 4A State title.
“We have a lot of true football players in this group,” said Baldwin. “We made sure that was a big point of emphasis. We wanted to make sure we signed players who were tough and guys who compete.”