CHENEY -- This year, size and speed took on new meanings for the Eastern Washington University football program as it signed 14 high school athletes on National Letter of Intent Signing Day.
The Eagles got a late start on recruiting two years ago when Beau Baldwin was initially named head coach, and last year the Eagles hurriedly caught up by signing 33 players. This year, Eastern concentrated on finding the right kind of size and speed it needed.
"When you look at what we did and the goals we had when we started recruiting, we are very pleased," said Baldwin. "We definitely made speed an emphasis in our skill players, and I think we'll definitely see that with this class."
Besides the 14 high school players, Baldwin also announced the addition of a pair of quarterbacks who will be transferring to EWU. Bo Levi Mitchell, who signed a financial aid agreement with the Eagles and is expected to attend classes at EWU in the spring, played two seasons at Southern Methodist University in Texas where he started all 19 of the games he played.
Eastern also announced the previous signing of junior college quarterback Greg Panelli from Newman, Calif., and Modesto Junior College. The strong-armed, 6-foot-3, 225-pounder passed for more than 5,000 yards and 56 touchdowns at Modesto and twice earned All-Golden Gate Conference honors.
"Our mindset was to really pinpoint areas," Baldwin explained of his coaching staff's recruiting emphasis this year. "We wanted to make sure we felt good in terms of the players we were signing."
The speedsters in the class include a pair of players who are among the fastest in Washington during track season in both the 100 and 200 meters. Wide receiver Markeem Adams (West Seattle HS) has won two State 3A titles in the 200 and wide receiver Trenton Pinson (Federal Way HS) was the State 4A runner-up in both the 100 and 200.
"We have some good, young outside receivers, but we really wanted to find a couple of skilled receivers who may not be as big but are quicker," said Baldwin. "That was a goal for us and we were able to accomplish that."
A pair of players from California, including running back Mario Brown from Berkeley, Calif. (Bishop O'Dowd HS), are also speedsters. Brown rushed for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior, and 1,928 yards (9.2 per carry) and 23 touchdowns as a junior. The other is wide receiver Andre Willliams from El Cerrito (Calif.) HS, who rushed for 711 yards and had another 575 yards receiving with 13 total touchdowns in 2009.
"You are always looking for great running backs -- you can never have enough of those," Baldwin added. "After that, we wanted to sign two linebackers that I think have the physical tools and make-up to help us right away."
The lone local signee was running back Cody Hecker from Sandpoint, Idaho.