After a week of phone calls, Head Coach Willie Fritz announced that 17 new players officially signed onto the Georgia Southern University football team.
“During this two-week time period, that was one of the first things I told our coaches we had to find out about; are these the type of people we want in Statesboro, are these the type of people we want at our university, are these the type of people we want in our football program? And, if you can say yes to all of those things, then, we felt they were guys that could be Eagles,” Fritz said.
The newest members to the GSU football team include a variety of ages from freshmen to juniors moving on from their junior colleges. Also, Fritz managed to stay close to his new home by signing five players from Georgia, and his old home by signing three players from Texas.
“Obviously we feel like this is a historic day for the history of Georgia Southern football. Not only is it my first class, but, more importantly, this is the first FBS signing class in the history of Georgia Southern football,” Fritz said.
After a first glance at the new players, it is clear that Fritz had a heavy focus on building the offensive and defensive line. He recruited five offensive lineman, two defensive ends, one defensive lineman, three linebackers, one defensive tackle and two cornerbacks. Leaving three spots open for one running back, one tight-end and one wide receiver.
There was, however, one hole that this class was not able to fill, or chose not to fill, and that is the quarterback position.
“As far as the quarterback is concerned, we feel like we have quarterbacks on the roster right now that are younger guys, and you kind of like to spread that out when you are recruiting, particularly quarterbacks. So, we didn’t feel like that was a pressing need for us,” Fritz said. “There are a lot of senior offensive lineman that are currently going to be starting and playing a lot next season, so we really felt like we needed to beef up in that area.”
Moving into the new FBS division, Fritz made sure to recruit plenty of freshmen to carry GSU through the first years of new competition. But, he also recruited three juniors and a sophomore from different junior colleges.
“Our 2014 signing class represents a lot of different areas; one is young men who had prior commitments. I have a lot of experience because I was also a junior college head coach, and had young men getting recruited by institutions, four-year institutions,” Fritz said. “The piece of advice I always gave them was to make sure you always sign somewhere that you’re really worried about the university, not the person that is recruiting you.”
Fritz had to move quickly in order to cover all the recruiting ground he wanted to, but it should be mentioned that he was not alone in that effort. Before former head coach Jeff Monken left, he had at least ten guys committed and ready to play for the Eagles as well as three players who committed mid-semester.
“We wanted to make sure these guys that were committed to us when we came here knew that we were committed to them as well,” Fritz said. “I think the previous staff did a good job with evaluation and information gathering, as far as their background’s concerned and different things like that. Quite a few of these student-athletes have been to Georgia Southern for games and have also been to one-day camps.”
Along with the football team gaining these 17 new players, new head coach Fritz is gaining a lot of information himself. Moving up to FBS with a new coach, new players and a new stadium is a lot to immediately grasp.
“We had to learn about Georgia Southern. Our first weekend we had recruits in, a lot of our staff went through the visit just like the student-athletes did,” Fritz said. “I think something that was interesting was that after the weekend got over, I called my wife and said this is even more of an impressive university than I first thought from going through the interview process.”