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Press Roundup: Lehigh's Class of 2013

Coach Coen made the rounds in the Wednesday papers talking about the class of 2003. I talked to him today, and I'll post my full interview with him next week. But the whet you appetite, I'll post the links to Keith Groller's interview in the Morning Call and Michael Lore's in the Easton Express-Times.

Add to that the official release, and you have a lot of quotes from coach Coen - of which the mashup follows below.

Coen is ecstatic the winner of the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year award is coming to South Mountain.

''I was real impressed with him on tape,'' Coen said. ''Matter of fact, I watched the same tapes about three times just to make sure I was believing what I was seeing. It's true that his team was superior to a lot of the teams they played, but you could still see his ability.''

Coen saw Barket in person once and even though it was in a season-ending loss to Steel-High, he was again impressed.

"He still had a big game [160 yards on 38 carries] and showed his toughness even though Steel-High was the better team," Coen said. ''He got banged around pretty good, but stayed tough as nails. He's a football player."

"It's always great to get kids with a local tie here," Coen said. "We try to do that every year when the profile fits. Zach is obviously highly decorated running back who had 4,187 yards and 65 rushing touchdowns in his senior year. He's certainly a very talented young man."

"With Matt McGowan graduating, the tailbacks coming in are going to be able to compete for time," Coen said. "Two seasons ago, we were in a situation with injury where two true freshman, Jaren Walker and Kwesi Kankam, were playing for us. The guys coming in should feel like they have an immediate chance to make a contribution.

"Tailback we felt we needed to address given the fact we've had so many injuries there over the past few years."

***


"This was our fourth recruiting class and we're now at that point where we need to be depth-wise at each position group," Coen said. "We wanted to continue to add size and physical kids. I especially like that we were able to add four defensive linemen and four receivers because we're going to be losing quality kids at those positions and we want to create competition at those spots.

"The one thing you learn is you could never have too many good players," he said. "I think that's the way you have to do in the Patriot League. We all take classes between 25-30, but you need to try and address every position.

"If there's any benefit to not being a scholarship program, you can take bigger classes it seems each year and try and plug players in the different positions. We've got good numbers where they need to be."

***

''We're dealing with a smaller pool of kids who can make things work financially,'' Coen said. ''That's not a Lehigh issue; that's a nationwide issue. The days of us being able to bring in six or seven Lehigh Valley kids, or even kids within a two-hour radius, are over.

"We're in a situation with the academics and finances that we have to reach out to a kid in California just as hard as we'd reach out to a kid over at Bethlehem Catholic.

“We are bringing in kids from nine states, including three from California. This shows the commitment by our coaching staff to search the country for the best and brightest, both academically and athletically, to fit in at Lehigh.”

"I think it's very important in the Patriot League these days," Coen said of national recruiting. "We've all really become a national recruiting model. We have to go that far to keep us competitive and be the types of kids who get accepted to the school here. You don't have the resources maybe to go out and see all these kids, so you have to do a great job cultivating these kids on the phone and recruiting services."

***

''All in all, I like this group,'' Coen said. ''You won't find a coach in the country who will tell you he's not excited about his recruiting class, but we feel like we have something established. We now have our guys in place. Everybody is now on the same page with their goals and vision for the program.''

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