FAU could turn to the junior college ranks to help rebuild an offensive line that has been decimated by injuries this season and could be shorthanded again next year.
“There’s a chance where there’s a place or two where we could take anywhere from two to five junior college players at most to plug a hole,” FAU coach Charlie Partridge said.
FAU has shied away from, but not completely shunned, junior college recruits during Partridge’s three-year tenure.
Tight end Chandler Dexter signed with FAU as part of the 2015 recruiting class, but only stayed with the program for one unremarkable season before transferring to Central Arkansas.
Defensive end Damian Horton signed with FAU earlier this year and still has three years of eligibility remaining. Horton was in uniform for Saturday’s loss to Western Kentucky but has yet to play.
Partridge’s predecessor, Carl Pelini, frequently mined the junior college ranks for quick fixes at positions. Some, such as center Mustafa Johnson and tackle Braden Lyons, became important cogs for the Owls. Others weren’t as successful.
In recent weeks the Owls have reportedly extended offers to at least three JUCO offensive linemen: Jake Coleman of Ventura College, Tyler Bjorklund from College of the Canyons and Chase Johnson of Northwest Mississippi.
The Owls currently have 12 commitments to their 2017 recruiting class. Two of them, B.J. Etienne from Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas and Robert Holmes from West Palm Beach-Oxbridge Academy, are offensive linemen.
FAU expects to sign around 18 players come February’s National Signing Day.
For the 2017 season the Owls will be looking for players to fill spots vacated by the graduation of tackle Kelly Parfitt and center Dillon DeBoer. The status for next season of left tackle Reggie Bain, who had started every game since arriving in Boca Raton before breaking his hip in a motor scooter accident prior to the start of the season, remains uncertain.
So does the availability of Byers Hickman, a versatile lineman who offensive coordinator Travis Trickett called “NFL caliber” on Wednesday. After a strong spring Hickman missed nearly all of fall camp while dealing with an unspecified health issue, and though he returned to the team Partridge said last week that he wouldn’t play this season and indicated his future with the Owls may be in question.
The Owls will also have at least two linemen, Bryan Beck and Tarrick Thomas, working their way back from season-ending knee injuries.
On Wednesday FAU did pick up some impressive news on the recruiting front, landing a commitment from 2018 Miami-Northwestern linebacker Billy Joseph, one of the highest-rated players ever to commit to the Owls.
“I wanna say right now I’m committed to FAU,” Joseph tweeted.