BOCA RATON—One theme is clear in FAU’s 2018 signing class: The Owl brand is spreading nationally.
FAU had only one signee – Palm Beach Lakes’ Teja Young, a future cornerback – from South Florida.
“We didn’t come here to be the old FAU. We came here to be a national program,” Coach Kiffin said. “We want most of our players to come from South Florida but we are going to go find the best players that we can.”
For the first time in program history, FAU put the “National” in National Signing Day. As part of FAU’s 2018 signing class, FAU signed players from North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Idaho and California.
Last year FAU signed five South Floridians and have historically recruited heavily in the area but Kiffin said the Owls are looking to break previous expectations.
“How’d that work for you?” Kiffin said.
Seven FAU signees have Florida roots. Last year FAU signed 12 Floridians.
Kiffin disagreed with people who said upon his arrival to FAU that the talent level in South Florida was so high he didn’t need to recruit elsewhere, arguing that, while local recruiting is important, national recruiting is what takes teams to the next level.
“We want most of our players to come from South Florida but we are going to find the best players that we can because that’s our job,” Kiffin said.
Under Kiffin, the Owls gained the kind of national exposure that had eluded them since launching the program in 2000.
The Owls won their first Conference USA title and blew out Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl – the only college football game on television that night.
FAU won its final 10 games in 2017, showcasing an explosive, entertaining style of play.
And the Owls made headlines off the field with Kiffin’s unique Twitter persona.
“If you want to be a Top 20 program you don’t say … there’s a great player over there that wants to come here, I’m not going to go there because it’s out of my region” Kiffin said. “How many programs only recruit their areas? National programs, they don’t.”
Kiffin had high praise for Teja Young, comparing the lone South Florida-native to sign with the Owls, comparing him to All-Conference USA safety Jalen Young.
“Really dynamic player, when the ball gets in his hands,” Kiffin said. “He finds a way to make plays,” Kiffin said.
Capable of playing multiple positions, Teja played quarterback for Palm Beach Lakes last season because that’s what the Rams needed.