At least five players are expected to sign their National Letters of Intent on the first football early signing day.
After years of sub-par play, first year coach Lane Kiffin led the Owls to their first Conference USA title this season. A nine-game winning streak and 10 wins overall heading into the Boca Bowl opened plenty of doors on the recruiting trail for Kiffin and his coaches.
“It’s a lot easier to sell now,” Kiffin said. “When you haven’t won yet you’ve got to come in and talk about winning – what it’s going to look like. Well, now they can see it already so we’ve got kids that you wouldn’t think would be calling us that are calling us now. It’s pretty neat.”
What hasn’t been easy for Kiffin and the Owls is balancing their time between recruiting and preparation for the Akron and the Boca Bowl.
High school players have until Friday if they want to sign early. After that, they’ll have to wait until the traditional National Signing Day – which, in 2018, falls on Feb. 7.
“I want to be a part of a winning program,” Orlando-Jones lineman Devin Hayes said.
A former North Carolina St. commit, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound Hayes flipped to FAU during his Shula Bowl weekend visit.
Hayes can play both offensive tackle and defensive end. He expects to begin his FAU career on the offensive side of the ball, which is where he primarily played as a high school senior.
“Me and [coach] Lane Kiffin talked about it,” Hayes said. “He wants me on the offensive side of the ball because of how I play, my athleticism.”
Winter Garden-West Orange’s Franklin “Tre” Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 225 pound-defensive end also expects to sign with FAU.
The Owls also figure to receive NLIs from three junior college players.
Wide receiver Nero Nelson, a former Mississippi St. commit, and defensive tackle Charles Cameron were teammates this season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi.
Wide receiver Desean Holmes played at College of the Canyons.
At 6-foot-2, 290 pounds, Cameron can fill the spot vacated by redshirt senior Jeremiah Taleni.
“He’s a guy thats going to play the run really well and he’s probably going to get a lot better with pass rush techniques,” Copiah-Lincoln coach Glen Davis said.
Cameron and Holmes are expected to arrive in January, as are 2017 FAU signees Jovon Burriss and Carson Lydon.
Nelson, Hayes and Jackson aren’t expected to come to Boca Raton until the summer.
FAU is looking to sign somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 players to its 2018 signing class, a figure that can fluctuate depending on how many current players elect to transfer away from the school.
“What will matter most is the final class, when it’s all combined,” Kiffin said.