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Lehigh Announces Class of 2013

Lehigh announced the class of 2013 today - a large 26-strong class that bolsters three huge need areas for the Mountain Hawks: defensive line (6 recruits), defensive backs (4) and receivers (4). Add to that mix two high-profile quarterbacks, two intriguing running backs, and a replacement for senior P/K Jason Leo (incoming freshman P/K Jacob Peery, pictured), and you have what looks to be a very impressive incoming class.

“We continued to move in the right direction by bringing in big, physical kids, especially along both lines,” Coen explained. “With these last three classes we worked hard to address every position on the football field and I feel comfortable with the depth we have at every position.”

Following the graduation of All-American Brian Jackson, as well as Paul Bode, Jon Warren and Keith Johnson along the defensive line, the Lehigh coaching staff made it a point to re-stock that position. “With the graduation of Brian Jackson and three other seniors, this was a major area that we wanted to address and I feel that we did with a good mix of size and athleticism.”

Also along the front-seven, Lehigh brought in four linebackers, each of which stands at least six-feet tall and weighs 210 pounds. The Mountain Hawks return a strong group of linebackers for 2009, but must deal with the losses of two players from this group, in All-American Tim Diamond and Ben Pravata. “The newest group of linebackers have good size to them and are all physical,” explained Coen.
Seven recruits came locally from Pennsylvania, while Lehigh continued to look nationally for Division I football players - including one from Colorado, one from Minnesota, and three from California (though one Cali recruit played locally last year at Mercersburg Academy in PA).

Some other random thoughts aof mine bout this class:
  1. Conspicuous from their absence was no fullbacks in the incoming class - which makes me wonder if senior LB Al Pierce, who played some fullback last year when senior FB Greg Fay and senior RB Matt McGowan came down with injury, may be pencilled in at FB in 2009.
  2. Coach Coen has shown no hesitation to start freshmen, especially on the "O" line if he thinks they're ready, and you wonder if one of these four "O" linemen might get a chance if they excel in camp, just like rising junior OL Will Rackley and rising sophomore C Jim Liebler did the last two years.
  3. After mining Florida fairly extensively the past two years (which is where rising junior QB J.B. Clark came from), Lehigh only has two recruits from the football hotbed this year.
Look for exclusive comment directly from head coach Andy Coen on the blog very soon!

Without any further ado, here's my analysis of the class of 2013, complete with video highlights of every recruit that I could find.

RB Zach Barket (Schuylkill Haven HS, PA) Video Highlights (courtesy of YouTube)

The skinny: It won't be as easy as it was in high school for him, but Lehigh fans are hoping that he'll offer a fraction of the production he had at Schuylkill Haven High School in the Anthracite league. The Republican & Herald called it a travesty that he wasn't asked to play in the Big 33 All-Star game this year, and "if not making the Big 33 game is a travesty, I don’t believe the word has been invented yet to describe the wrong of Barket not being selected to play in the East-West [all-star game]."

The numbers folks are excited about are the staggering once he amassed at Schuykill Haven last year: 4,195 yards rushing and 66 TDs, demolishing school and state records.
Perhaps his size - at 5'9, 200 lbs - is why FBS schools passed him over, but their loss appears to be Lehigh's gain. Big gain.

DE Tom Bianchi (West Essex HS, NJ) Video Highlights (courtesy of ESPN)

The skinny: This 6'2, 231 lb defensive end graded out as a 64 from ESPN's recruiting website and listed Army, Boston College, Syracuse, New Hampshire as Penn as possible destinations - so we may have stole him away from Penn if that's the case. (Always good to see Lehigh reportedly taking recruits away from the Ivy League.) Watching the video, he showed really good push from the 3-4 defense they played, and got a good amount of pressure on the quarterback and disruption of the running game. He's listed as a "solid prospect" - for FBS schools.

DL/TE William Boyko (Northampton HS, PA)

The skinny: "Billy's a blue-collar kid who does anything that's asked of him,'' high school coach Bob Steckel said to Keith Groller of the Morning Call. ''Since last year, he's said 'Lehigh, Lehigh, Lehigh.' He also was impressed with Lafayette, but Lehigh's always been No. 1 with him because of the engineering and he's going to have a very good fit there.''

DL/OL Collin Bremer (Abington Heights HS, PA)

The skinny: More local talent is finding its way to Bethlehem, as this all-star lineman from the Lackawanna Football Conference reported has picked Lehigh over Bucknell, Colgate, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State. Abington Heights was known for having a talented, deep "O" line this year, but Lehigh has him listed on the "D" line. You have to love reading quotes like this: “I went down for my visit and I felt very comfortable there,” Bremer said. “They have a great football program there and the academics are top notch.”

DT Sajjad Ali Chagani (Sewanhaka HS, NY) Photo gallery

The skinny: The 6'2, 265 lb defensive tackle is also a heavyweight wrestler for Sewanhaka. He had 46 tackles, 36 assists, 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 5 fumble recoveries for the Indians.

WR Dan Cintron (Barnegat HS, NJ) Video Highlights courtesy of ESPN

The skinny: This speedster was listed as "one of the fastest players on the shore" and would seem to fit in well in a big need area for Lehigh with the top three receivers from last year lost to graduation. In the video, he shows some pretty good vision and watching him speed past defensive backs on the slant pattern make you think of the possibilities.

QB Mike Colvin (Morristown HS, NJ) Video Highlights courtesy of ESPN

The skinny: The son of a former Lehigh football player, the kid who grew up watching games at Murray Goodman is reportedly coming to the Mountain Hawks to play for the home team. Just today, Colvin announced he's coming to Lehigh after making official visits to Bethlehem and Georgetown. Reportedly, FBS schools Buffalo, Akron, Syracuse and NC State were all rumored to be sniffing around, but the report says that Colvin "was so impressed with Lehigh during his official visit last weekend that he gave a verbal commitment." Want more love? "When I got to Lehigh, I knew that was where I wanted to go," he said to the Daily Record. "They have a lot of tradition. Football is a big deal there. Academics are big. There is a balance." ESPN grades him as a very high 74, praising his tools but calling him "green".

WR/CB James Flynn (Notre Dame HS, CA) Video Highlights (#8, courtesy of YouTube)

The skinny:
Flynn was the Sierra League Offensive MVP after catching 48 passes for 1,112 yards and 19 touchdowns. The LA Times says that he "should be an outstanding fit in Lehigh's no-huddle, spread offense". Matt's father said to "He made his choice based on the college's high academics, playing D-I football and the long tradition of Lehigh." Video highlights show a banner game against Compton - not only the touchdown catches, but the blocked punt as well.

LB Jerard Gordon (Pemberton HS, NJ)

The skinny: Team captain and leading tackler on a 3-7 Pemberton team, and also played tight end. While Pemberton struggled, the defense led by Gordon held opponents under 20 points four times in 2008.

TE/LB Jamal 'Redz' Haggins (Ben Franklin HS, PA)

The skinny: The confirmation in the Philadelphia Inquirer says it all: " With this outstanding young man, you get much more than football. He's the No. 1 senior academically and the lieutenant commander of the school's Junior ROTC program and, as football coach/athletic director Ken Geiser noted last season: "Jamel's the No. 1 leader in school. With the team. With everything. Anytime somebody wants to make sure something gets done, it's always 'Go to Jamel.' " Reportedly a player with interest from FBS schools Temple and West Virginia, as well as FCS schools Delaware, Villanova, Hofstra, Northeastern and others, it's assistant coach Gerard Wilcher that gave him the call that confirmed that he could get a need-based scholarship at Lehigh. Also was honored nationally in the National Football Foundation's "Play It Smart" program - where he gave a speech in Arlington, TX. To top it all off, he's also a Philadelphia Eagle Top Achiever, too.

RB Mike Hanhauser (Perry HS, OH) Video Highlights (junior year)

The skinny: Originally looking like a safety prospect, with a great senior year at Perry (helping vault his team to a deep playoff run and making him a 1st team all-Ohio running back. Highlights show only him on defense, but shows a real good motor.

LB/TE Jordan Jefferson (Mercersburg Academy (PA), CA)
Video Highlights (courtesy of YouTube, at Palo Alto, #13, as receiver)

The skinny: Registered 40 tackles, including 9 for loss, at linebacker 2008 and caught 31 passes for 489 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. Captain as a senior at Palo Alto High school, where it looks like he mostly played TE. Looks to have converted more to LB at Mercersburg.

DB/QB/P Gabe Johnson (Riverdale Baptist HS, MD) Video Highlights
courtesy of AOL Video

The skinny: Played in the Maryland Crab Bowl All-Star game and was part of the ESPN small-school all-State team in football. Reminscient of rising senior DB Jesse Sanchez, a converted QB who is in line to start this year in the defensive backfield for Lehigh. Looks like a good tackler out of the safety position. As a passer, Johnson uses his speed to get open, and it's easy to see him in practice lining up on the scout team to represent a spread option QB. Also kicked and punted, too.

RB Tony Kablan (Roseville Area HS, MN)
Video Highlights courtesy of YouTube

The skinny: Speedy scatback in the Ron Jean/Jamil Walker mold. Injuries limited him in his senior year, but Kablan returned for the playoffs in time to make a run in the playoffs, accounting for more of Roseville's offense (over 500 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns) during that stretch. In the playoffs, Kablan was used partially in the "wildcat formation" where the RB can take a direct snap from center. Also excelled at the triple jump at high school.

Video is grainy, but shows a nice burst at the line of scrimmage and a nice second gear.

LB/TE Sam Loughery (Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS, PA)

The skinny: WPIAL City League All-Conference defense, first team, and "standout linebacker" for a team that held 8 of 11 opponents under 14 points in 8 of 11 games last year.

QB Mason Mills (Coronado HS, CA)
Video highlights courtesy of Google Video

The skinny: Excelled at Coronado not only on the football field (72.9% completion percentage, 1st team all-small school in California) but also in the classroom with fantastic SAT numbers (1890). Message board relates a story that he played the last two games of his high school football career with four broken fingers, which (if true) shows the type of competitor he is. Video shows mobility - has real good presence when the pocket breaks down.

DB/WR Billy O'Brien (Bishop Eustace HS, NJ)

The skinny:
Almost singlehandedly beat Cinnaminson on the final play in regulation of their playoff game with a 60 yard interception return. Tallied 29 regular-season tackles at CB for the Crusaders.

P Jake Peery (Archbishop Curley, MD)
Video Highlights courtesy of YouTube

The skinny: If you watch the highlights, you'll see a kid who has a big leg for kickoffs. Was second-team all-State and played in the Maryland Crab All-Star Bowl game, where he made all three extra-points he attempted.

WR Marvin Pierre (Pine Crest HS, FL)
Video Highlights courtesy of YouTube (#11)

The skinny: Versatile 3-sport (football, basketball, track) speedster from Florida. Video shows a nice punt return and a couple of good catches. All Broward-County receiver, and with his teammates broke the 4x100 meter relay record for the school.

SS/WR Devin Pullara (Arapahoe HS, CO)

The skinny:
Tall (6'1) all-conference player at defensive back that also played lacrosse at a high level in Arapahoe, though he did line up at wideout on reverses at times and also returns kicks. Was one of the best DBs in Colorado despite being on an under .500 team. “I think Lehigh is an excellent choice for Devin,” football coach Mike Campbell told a local paper. “He is an athlete that will experience great success both on and off the field. We wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors.”

OL/DL Thomas Ruley (Parkville HS, MD)
Video Highlights courtesy of YouTube (#72... not easy to view)

The skinny: Two-way lineman with a 3.8 GPA reportedly went with Lehigh after being courted earlier by FBS Maryland, Ivy League and several other CAA schools. A two-year team captain, the 6'4, 280 lb lineman was called one of "Baltimore county's two best players".

WR/DB Ryan Spadola (Freehold Township HS, NJ) Video Highlights courtesy of ESPN

The skinny: As Cintron is a speedster, the 6'3 181 lb Spadola is seen as a "red zone and possession receiver," according to the video on ESPN's recruiting site. ESPN also calls him a "hard worker" with "excellent hands", and my watch of the video shows a nice second gear. "I didn't get any college offers for track," he told the Asbury Park Press. "Lehigh kept talking to me. They are one of the top eight business schools in the nation and I will major in business."

DL/OL Lex Utt (Urbana HS, MD) Video Highlights courtesy of YouTube (#75)

The skinny: 6'4, 265 lb who also played in the Crab Bowl All-Star game in Maryland. Video highlight reel very, very hard to see, but you can see a DL that gets some decent push to the quarterback and someone who played center pretty well at the high school level. Also played basketball.

DL/TE Anthony Verderame (Bayard-Rustin HS, PA)

The skinny: Team leader and one of the key pieces in the emergence of the Bayard-Rustin's fledgling three-year old football program. His coach told the Philadelphia Inquirer that "He has a nonstop motor and great speed. He just loves playing football." Local press was enthralled with Golden Knight's strong, physical play throughout the season and the playoffs. Along with fellow recruit Zach Barket, he was a Maxwell Award recipient (or the "Min Max" awards, which award academics, athletics and community service).

OL Mike Vuono ( North Allegheny HS, PA) Video Highlights courtesy of ESPN

The skinny: Big 300 lb lineman form North Allegheny that graded out a 75 on ESPN's recruiting site: "He is a little undersized but gives tremendous effort every play. Every run snap he comes out low with a flat back. Plays with good power angles and drives his legs after the initial contact is made." ESPN seems to feel like he has very good blocking technique and with more polish can become a "complete lineman".

OL/DL Ryan Weitz (East Lake HS, FL) 2008 High School Preview courtesy of YouTube

The skinny: There's nothing "skinny" about this 6'2, 300 lb behemoth that looks an awful lot like a very good prospect for Lehigh's "O" line. First team selection for his "O" line play, and has played in several Florida all-star games. Played right tackle in HS, watch for some highlights 1:13 into the preview.


ngineer said…
Great summary LFN. Got my juices pumping for August. Sounds like a lot of solid kids.
Anonymous said…
The Flyers' Jeff Carter signs with Lehigh? Perry is a deadringer for him.

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