Georgia Southern University football head coach Jeff Monken said the Eagles have about 15 scholarships to offer and might sign as many as 30 players to letters of intent on national signing day Wednesday.
"We’re going to sign far more kids than we have scholarships for because we can divide scholarships," he said.
A lack of depth at cornerback is GSU’s biggest concern, but Monken said there also are needs at linebacker and quarterback, as well as on the offensive and defensive lines and special teams.
GSU lost senior cornerbacks Laron Scott and Hudson Presume, and freshman cornerback Riyahd Jones is no longer enrolled. The Eagles got an early enrollee, junior college transfer Tevin Thomas from Copiah-Lincon Junior College in Mississippi.
"We need some guys in the secondary," Monken said. "At this point, I anticipate all of our class Wednesday, with the exception of Tevin, who joined us in January, will be high school seniors."
GSU has received verbal commitments from cornerback Deshawntee Gallon (5-foot-9, 175) of Madison County (Fla.) High School, safety Grady Redding (5-9, 176) of Cocoa (Fla.) High and safety Patrick Flowe (6-1, 198) of Parkview High, according to Rivals.com.
"And, of course, we’ve only got three quarterbacks on scholarship right now in the program," said Monken, who must replace senior Jaybo Shaw.
The Eagles also are losing three starting offensive linemen – Brandavious Mann, William Maxwell and Brett Moore – to graduation.
"We need to get some guys to develop at that position as well,” Monken said.
GSU has a verbal commitment from quarterback Matt Dobson (6-1, 202) of North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla., according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Dobson had more than 3,500 yards of total offense and 41 touchdowns (26 passing) while leading NFC to a state title last season. He reportedly had offers from Georgia Tech, Navy, Florida International, Western Kentucky and Samford.
in the Parrish Football Center’s team meeting room to announce the Eagles’ signing class.
GSU has a verbal commitment from offensive lineman Michael Young of Tucker High, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
On the defensive line, GSU must replace seniors John Douglas and Roderick Tinsley. The Eagles have verbal commitments from defensive ends Tre Griffin (6-2, 232) of North Cobb High in Kennesaw, according to Rivals.com, and from Southeast Bulloch’s Jamal Johnson (6-3, 235).
Savannah Christian’s Nardo Govan (6-3, 225) has given GSU a verbal commitment and is expected to play at defensive end or outside linebacker, according to the Savannah Morning News.
GSU has verbal commitments from defensive tackles Darian Small of Dutchtown High in Hampton, according to the Clayton Daily News, and from Buford’s Dequan Clark, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. The Daily Post also reported that Archer High defensive end/running back Jermaine Morris will play for the Eagles.
On special teams, GSU must replace all four of its specialists - kicker Adrian Mora, kicker Billy Greer, punter Charlie Edwards and long snapper Carter Jones.
“e’re losing them all," Monken said. "We’ve got to do our best to help ourselves there."
At running back, GSU must replace senior A-back Nico Hickey. The Eagles have verbal commitments, according to Rivals.com, from running backs Shun Tribble (5-9, 160) of Woodruff (S.C.) High and Gabe Johnson (5-8, 185) of Bartram Trail High in Jacksonville, Fla., and from athlete Devonte Wheaton (5-8, 165) of Etowah High in Woodstock.
GSU finished last season 11-3, advancing to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals for a second consecutive season. The Eagles won their first Southern Conference championship outright since 2002, and their first league title since 2004, when they shared with Furman.
Monken said he hopes GSU’s 2012 recruiting class will continue the program’s success.
"We think they’re all good players right now," he said. "That’s why we’re recruiting them. What they do when they get here is another story. I hope they’ll all perform well when they get here."
Monken said GSU’s semifinal appearances the past two seasons have helped during the sales pitches that he and his assistants have given to recruits, but he said the program’s history of winning is what seals the deal.
"Georgia Southern football is where championship football is played, starting with the very first team of Erk Russell," Monken said. "And that has as much to do with being able to sell this program and this university as anything. I don’t know how much the playoffs and semifinals the last two years ring a bell with these kids. I think kids, college football players, naturally gravitate to the BCS-level teams more than anything; the Alabamas, the Georgias, the Georgia Techs, the Notre Dames, the USCs and those kinds of people.
"The kids who follow our program are the kids we’ve been recruiting, they’ve been following us all year and are very aware of the success that we’ve had not only this year but last year as well. We meet a lot of new kids along the way, kids we weren’t recruiting or kids we didn’t know about or kids who have fallen off the BCS-level schools and now are available for schools like Georgia Southern and other schools at our level to recruit.
"We’ve got to tell the story of Georgia Southern and talk about the success that we’ve had. I think every kid is more attracted to a school where there is success, and we certainly have that. And we’ve got the teams of the past to thank for that, Coach Russell’s teams and Coach (Paul) Johnson’s teams. Winning helps. Winning helps everything."