BOCA RATON – FAU signed nine recruits on Wednesday, the start of football’s early signing period. Seven of them had pledged to play for the Owls under Lane Kiffin.
The final two came aboard following the hiring of Willie Taggart.
Drawing major conclusions about an early signing class is always problematic because a month-and-a-half from now, on February’s National Signing Day, the Owls will add another set of players to the class.
Taggart only having about a week on the job prior to Wednesday complicates the issue even further.
“I’m really excited about the guys we have coming in here,” Taggart said. “It says a lot about them with all the changes that have gone on and me just getting the job this past Wednesday, that they wanted to be here.”
So what should FAU fans think about the early signees? Here are some observations from the day.
FAU EARLY SIGNING OBSERVATIONS
Signing Impact Linemen a Priority: It’s no coincidence that the two junior college players FAU signed were linemen. FAU loses four productive defensive tackles – including both starters – to graduation, so Alvin Dempsey needs to perform immediately. Losing left tackle Brandon Walton opens an immediate slot for Sebastien Dolcine. Wouldn’t be surprised to see some more JUCO guys here, although FAU did sign many freshman defensive linemen last year.
WR Also a Priority: In slot receiver Justin McKithen the Owls signed a player with breakaway speed. He’ll enroll in January and participate in spring football. FAU also announced the transfer of former Cincinnati WR Yanez Rogers, who’s eligibility for 2020 is uncertain, requiring a waiver from the NCAA. “You never know what can happen,” Taggart said. “I wouldn’t say I’m confident it will happen, I just know that it can happen. We’re going to try and see what happens. You never know.”
FAU Kept Most Kiffin Commits: As noted above, seven of the nine players signed by the Owls originally committed under Kiffin. Two more, Zephyrhills Christian OL/DL Malik Jones and Lee (Ala.) safety Kendrick Simpkins, said they wanted to wait until February to sign alongside their high school teammates. That FAU retained so many of those players says a lot about the respect they have for Taggart, but even more for the relationships they developed with FAU assistant coaches.
Owls Will Sign a QB: FAU lost out on Southfield (Mich.) QB Anthony Romphf, who de-committed from the Owls the night before signing day in favor of Purdue, where he’ll play defensive back. All-Conference USA quarterback Chris Robison still has two years of eligibility remaining, as does his backup, Nick Tronti. Justin Agner has one. Javion Posey, who is so athletic that he worked at wide receiver this year but Kiffin insisted was a quarterback of the future, has four years left. It appears the Owls will lose one from the ranks, as Cordel Littlejohn says his midseason move to wide receiver is permanent. Signing a quarterback isn’t a necessity this year, but Taggart insists it’s a priority. “We’re going to sign one,” Taggart said. “We’re going to sign a quarterback in this class.”
South Florida Void: At his introductory press conference Taggart stated that recruiting Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties would be a priority. That didn’t pan out on Wednesday, with Miami-Columbus offensive lineman Andre Lamas being the only high school signee from any of those countie. And the Owls did lose Miami-Killian running back Frank Gore on Signing Day to Southern Miss. What does that mean? Probably not much. Taggart didn’t have much time to re-develop roots in the area. But since this is a stated emphasis of Taggart’s it will be disconcerting if the ratio of South Floridians to total recruits doesn’t rise by February.