Georgia Southern doesn’t have quite as many needs to fill on the two-deep as it has in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the coaching staff from hitting the recruiting trail hard.
On National Signing Day today, coach Jeff Monken expects to sign around 25 new Eagles to be announced at a press conference today at 3 p.m. at the Parrish Football Center on campus.
Of course, that number could change as the faxes start coming in from recruits. You never know you’ve got them until they sign the paper.
Last season — the first recruiting season for the second-year coaching staff — they thought that 275-pound running back Ladarius Phillips was going to become an Eagle.
He had a last-minute change of heart.
“We had him committed on Tuesday night before signing day,” Monken said. “We’re waiting for the fax to come on Wednesday morning and it doesn’t show up, and it doesn’t show up and it doesn’t show up. Finally, we call and call and start surfing the internet, and we find out that he had signed with Auburn that morning. They called him at 10:30 on Tuesday night and offered him, and he committed with them. We had no idea he was going to sign with Auburn. Those cases come up, and hopefully we won’t have too many of those cases this year. Hopefully we won’t have any.”
It happens both ways. Oftentimes, coaches will make an offer they soon discover they can’t honor.
“It’s a real balancing act,” said Monken. “College coaches get raked through the coals if they change their mind on a guy. … If a guy commits to you and says, ‘Coach, I’m coming,’ and you take the commitment, then call him back and say, ‘Sorry, we can’t honor that scholarship,’ you can really cause some problems for yourself.
“We try to be very forthright with the kids we recruit. If we offer him a scholarship and he accepts it, we honor it.”
The biggest need for the Eagles this offseason has been in the defensive secondary. The only senior who started the last game of 2010 was Carson Hill, but that leaves GSU with only three scholarship cornerbacks.
Georgia Southern goes after speed at every position, but Monken and his crew try to avoid a term that has become commonplace in college football recruiting — athlete.
“I think that’s a recruiting term,” said Monken. “It’s basically to tell the kid, ‘Hey, we think you’re a great player, but we’re not going to recruit you as a receiver, because we’re not going to throw the ball as much,’ or, ‘You’re a running back and we throw the ball all the time,’ or, ‘You’re an option quarterback and you can’t play quarterback for us, but we’re not going to tell you that.’ We’re just going to say, ‘athlete.’ I think it’s just a way to sugar coat it, but the bottom line is I think most people know where they want to play a kid when they recruit him.”
Monken says that in most situations, coaches know exactly what position they want a recruit to play, but he tries to avoid the term.
“Unfortunately, that’s the game they play,” he said, “so I tell kids when we’re recruiting them, ‘Look, do you think you can be the best wide receiver in our program? If you do, don’t worry about how many receivers we recruit. You’ll be the best one.’”
The press conference announcing the 2011 signing class will take place at 3 p.m. with radio coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. on 106.5 FM.
Visit www.StatesboroHerald.com for updates throughout the day as recruits sign with the Eagles.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.