BOCA RATON – Signing days allow college football teams to fill positions of need for both the upcoming season and beyond – and the Owls entered the current early signing period with many needs to fill.
Heading into Wednesday’s start of the early signing period we identified the seven biggest positions of need for the Owls to fill.
How did they do on Wednesday? We have the verdict below. Keep in mind that FAU will add one more player on Friday, the final day of the early signing period, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 come National Signing Day on Feb. 6.
FAU FOOTBALL RECRUITING NEEDS
1. Running Back: The decisions by Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte to enter the NFL draft early left the Owls without game-tested ball carriers. FAU had a potential replacement nearly in the fold all along. Former Alabama running back B. J. Emmons signed with FAU back in February but never enrolled, skipping the fall season while he completed academic work. He’s set to begin classes at FAU in January. Tallahassee-Rickards running back Kelvin Dean will sign with FAU on Friday during a ceremony at his school.
Evaluation: Adding Emmons and Dean to a unit expecting healthy springs from rising redshirt sophomore Tyrek Tisdale and rising redshirt freshman Malcolm Davidson should hand the Owls plenty of options for 2019 and beyond. Dwyer’s James Meeks will sign with FAU in February, but will grayshirt this season while rehabbing a torn ACL. The Owls won’t need to sign another running back in the spring, but if the right option presents itself, it’s hard to pass up a game-breaking back.
2. Linebacker: FAU lost four seniors to graduation, leaving only three current members of the unit with game experience. In Antarrius Moultrie, Caliph Brice, Eddie Williams, Joe Lewis and Diamante Howard, FAU countered by signing five players who can play the position. Williams and Howard will enroll at FAU in January, which should provide a big boost to their abilities to contribute in 2019. Brice, the lone JUCO signee at this position, won’t arrive until May, but still could contend for a starting job.
Evaluation: Five linebackers should nicely fill the roster void at the position, but Williams could move to safety. Lewis could do the same. And there is some thought that Howard could be more of a defensive end. Considering those possibilities, it would not be shocking to see FAU add a sixth or even seventh potential linebacker, then sort out the positions once the players arrive on campus.
3. Wide Receiver: FAU only lost one player off consequence off this unit – that coming when leading pass catcher Jovon Durante declared for the draft. The Owls signed College of the Sequoias speedster Adrian Bryant, a move that looks like a steal. Under Lane Kiffin, FAU hasn’t enjoyed much success with junior college receivers, but Bryant will enroll in January, giving him a chance to acclimate to the Owls’ system.
Evaluation:Getting Bryant is a good start. The Owls also have former Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis ready contribute. The Owls have plenty other skilled receivers, but none consistently produced last season. FAU should add at least one, and maybe several, receivers in February.
4. Defensive End: FAU lost starter Hunter Snyder and sack leader Ernest Bagner to graduation. Returners Leighton McCarthy and Tim Bonner have yet to prove they can be consistent forces on the field. FAU didn’t sign a true defensive end this week.
Evaluation: Howard may eventually grow into the position. Commit Travon Thomas from Miami-Edison didn’t sign because his test standardized test scores have yet to be posted, but at the moment he’s firm for FAU. This is one spot where FAU could have used some junior college help. Expect a couple more additions here before fall camp, and potentially a graduate transfer.
5. Offensive Line: FAU lost starting guard Antonio Riles and starting tackle Reggie Bain to graduation. In rising redshirt-freshmen Marquice Robinson and Doug Jones, the Owls have potential replacements at tackle. Reserve guard Nick Weber saw plenty of late-season action and could step into the starting lineup. The Owls, however, were hoping to sign a couple of JUCO players this week. That didn’t happen.
Evaluation: A complete whiff for FAU. The Owls aimed high, hoping to flip Fort Scott guard Desmond Noel and Highland C.C.’s Bailey Malovic, but they signed with Colorado St. and East Carolina, respectively. FAU also nearly landed Fort Lauderdale’s Kalen Boateng but lost him to a late push by Clemson. Kiffin has frequently lamented the struggles junior college players who miss spring practices experience in their first year. The good news for the Owls is that center Junior Diaz and Riles both arrived during the summer last year and still became effective starters. The Owls signed five offensive linemen in February will add more linemen in the coming months. They may once again look to graduate transfers.
6. Quarterback: Incumbent Chris Robison and Indiana transfer Nick Tronti will battle for the starting spot next season. FAU will sign a quarterback for this class, but is not expected to announce one during the early period.
Evaluation:Greenville (Ala.) signal caller Javion Posey is the guy the Owls want, and they will get him. The biggest question now is, What will happen with Dwyer signal caller Gio Richardson? Richardson remains committed to FAU, but the Owls don’t need two quarterbacks in this class. If Richardson ultimately signs with FAU, it will likely mean a position change is in the works for him.
7. Kicker: The Owls kicking struggles are well documented. FAU spent last season without a scholarship kicker and paid heavily for it. They intend to rectify that problem by signing someone this time around. They brought St. Francis (Mary.) kicker Jake Larson to Boca Raton for an official visit and have offered a couple other kickers.
Evaluation: It’s not surprising that the Owls didn’t sign a kicker during the early period. Most schools won’t. In program history the Owls only signed three kickers/punters. The fourth will come in February. It’s simply a question of which one it will be.