The second scholarship class in Lafayette football history was officially signed earlier this week.
Wednesday was National Signing Day nationwide and head coach Frank Tavani announced the signing of 26 incoming freshmen that will complete the recruiting class of 2018.
Sixteen scholarships were employed this year. Two full scholarships were split in half, which were distributed among four players as part scholarships. The remaining 14 were granted as full scholarships.
“Obviously not everyone in the class is on scholarship but everybody was recruited because they were a good student and they were a good enough football player to either get a scholarship now or get one later,” Tavani said.
Fourteen of the 26 signees are offensive recruits. Eleven are defensive while one was signed as a long snapper.
The class is more diverse geographically than in years past. Ten hail from Pennsylvania, three each from Connecticut and New Jersey, two each from California, Illinois, and New York and one apiece from Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts and Michigan.
“We should be strong in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, areas right here,” Tavani said. “You have to be able to get people in other areas though.”
Recruiting, as is typically the case, was divided into regions. The NCAA permits seven coaches from each team traveling at one time and Tavani assigned specific regions to specific coaches. Offensive coordinator Mickey Fein, for example, recruited on the east coast before spending three days in California.
A remaining possibility is the signing of an additional quarterback or kicker or punter. Unless that happens, “we probably won’t do anything and the class will sit at 26,” Tavani said.
The 14 offensive recruits include four wide receivers, four offensive linemen, three tailbacks, two tight ends and one quarterback.
“We certainly had to improve our depth at the running back position,” Tavani said. This is especially true with the departure of Marcellus Irving, who decided not to use his medical redshirt for an additional year.
Tavani specifically mentioned tailbacks DeSean Brown from Naperville, Ill. and Rajhan Meriweather from Chandler, Ariz.
The four offensive linemen will help contribute depth to the position.
“Now you look at the board, we have 19 offensive linemen,” Tavani said. “You get to one more, you are four deep [at each position]. It sounds like a lot but it’s not when right now at the bottom of the board there is a little tag that says injured and that fills up quick when you start practicing.”
“That’s why depth is so important.”
One recruit, Nick Franzese ‘18, is the brother of senior track and field athlete Neil Franzese and will be playing wide receiver.
“After the holidays, I had my official visit the weekend of [January] 25th,” Franzese said. “A lot of it was the coaching staff. They are some of the best coaches I’ve been in contact with.”
“The academic and athletic support is in place and you just find yourself being very successful there.”
Tavani mentioned two weeks ago to The Lafayette that quarterback depth is a concern. Andrew Dzurik ‘16 transferred this offseason and Zach Zweizig ‘15 has still not been medically cleared from a concussion he suffered against Penn in September. The signing of Josh Davis ‘18 from San Juan Capistrano, Calif. will help alleviate those concerns, at least for now.
The 11 defensive signings consist of four linebackers, four defensive backs, two defensive ends and one safety.
Tavani immediately mentioned linebacker as a position that is “always important” due to Lafayette’s tendency to play both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense.
“That’s a spot where depth wise we wanted to make sure we’re in good shape there,” Tavani said.
None of the new recruits will participate in the annual spring game on April 12 but will be on campus in early August to begin training camp.
Note: Defensive coordinator John Loose has accepted a position to become the linebackers coach at Army, effective immediately. The departure marks the end of his 14-year tenure at Lafayette working with Tavani.
Loose previously coached at Army as a defensive assistant from 1992 to 2000. Tavani said Wednesday that interviews for the vacant position will begin next week and will hopefully be filled before spring practice commences on March 6.