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Everything I Know About Lehigh's Class of 2014

As long as I've been doing this, Lehigh generally waits a week after Lafayette announces their incoming class, and "that school in Easton" always announces on "signing day" every year.  That is, until this year when a day after "Letter of Intent day I get an email alert.

"Lehigh announces the class of 2014." I shook my head.  What?

A thought went through my brain - maybe it was a mistake, that Lehigh Sports information released the list early by accident.

But it was no accident.  This was really it - this year's class of 2014, announced officially, complete with selected video of the recruits.  And there's plenty to be excited about below the flip - I assure you - with as much information as I could figure out about the incoming class.  (more)

 “We’re excited to announce our newest class and to have recruited this newest group of Mountain Hawks,” Coen explained.  “This is the fourth full year of recruiting efforts by our coaching staff and we’re looking forward to bringing this group into the program after cultivating relationships with these young men for the past ten months.”
The first thing that struck me when reading the release was simply the number of football recruits coming in.  My dimestore analysis of Lehigh's needs showed that Lehigh had only a small number of seniors graduating, so I thought that Lehigh would probably have a smaller incoming class as a result.  Instead I was floored to see 28 names on the list - way beyond replacement numbers, and with the sheer number of athletes it seems destined that there will be some spirited competition in the fall.

 “We have a strong nucleus of our team returning in 2010, with 17 starters coming back, and that really allowed us to recruit across the board for all positions and have an even distribution of offensive and defensive players,” Coen said.  “I’m pleased with the size this class has as well as the overall speed.  We found kids on both sides of the ball that can really run, which was a focus for us.  We also addressed some of our special teams needs in signing a kicker/punter as well as a talented long snapper.”
One of the real interesting things about the release was the inclusion of videos of many of the incoming recruits.  Though they missed a couple, (good ones of incoming DE Nigel Muhammad and OL Ashton Hood, both out of Ohio.  Click and watch them below!), the inclusion of video snippets to get football fans like myself ready for spring football was deeply appreciated - and gave me a look at some recruits that I wouldn't have had a chance to see otherwise.

Another thing that stood out to me with this class was simply the numbers at pretty much every position that were coming in: five "O" linemen, (potentially) five defensive backs, two fullback/"H"-backs - and even a quarterback and a couple running backs that have the potential to make a difference.

Nobody's going to tell you that you had a bad recruiting class, but this one - especially on defense - really looks intriguing to me.  Without any further ado, let me share everything I "know" about this year's incoming class.

TE Max Anderson (Gov. Thomas Johnson HS, Frederick, MD)

The skinny:  Two-way player out of Maryland who played both defensive end and tight end for the Patriots.  Was a second team all-Gazette defender.  The highlight video from Lehigh's release shows an active, aggressive defensive player.

QB Brandon Bialkowski (Gilbert HS, Gilbert, AZ) (Highlight video)

The skinny:  A nice find that we reportedly signed away from Princeton: apparently he was "was leaning toward Princeton, before deciding to take up Lehigh University's offer."  Early on he had interest from FBS programs like East Carolina and San Diego State before Lehigh came in.  A southpaw with some nice mobility, while he appears to be primarily a pocket passer he did show the ability to run the option with some speed to the corner.  His reel shows a nice ability to throw across his body, and has a good way of putting the ball only where the receiver can catch it.  Kind of a gunslinger-type.

DB Damian Brown (Pembroke Pines HS, Weston Cypress Bay, FL)

The skinny: Was a Miami Herald all-Broward honorable mention.  Last year was a rebuilding year for the Lightning but the year before they went 10-2.  At 5'10, Brown was listed as having visited Cornell in this article on "short" football recruits from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.  (If there's one thing I can't stand in football at all levels it's judging solely on height.  One of our best players, senior DB/RS John "Prez" Kennedy, is listed at 5'10 but will be one of our best players next year.)  Video from Lehigh's release shows a speedy, hard hitter.

WR/DB Ryan Burke (Cardinal Newman HS, FL) (Highlight video (junior year))

The skinny:   A speedy prospect out of Florida, Burke had 18 passes thrown his way for 263 yards and 1 TD in 2009.  Before he broke his foot senior year, he led rush-happy Cardnial-Newman in receptions and was 1st team all-Palm Beach Post his junior year.  In addition, he was putting up combine numbers up there with the speediest players in all of Florida.  In his junior highlight reel, shows some nice separation.  If the reports are correct, it looks like Burke is another kid who thought about Princeton but instead came to Lehigh.

K/P Tim Divers (Wayne Hills HS, Wayne, NJ) (Highlight video)

The skinny:  Strong leg, which is obvious in the highlight video.  His combine numbers are impressive: 44 yards per punt and 58 yards per kickoff.  Wayne Hills coach Chris Olsen calls him "great under pressure", and according to this signing day article, "Tim will have a great college career.  His will be a tough shoe to fill."

RB Sean Farrell (Cherokee HS, Marlton, NJ)

The skinny: What lured Farrell towards South Mountain?  Try Lehigh's pre-med program: "I'd like to be a surgeon, it's something that I've been interested for a while now," Farrell said. "They have a great pre-med program at Lehigh, which obviously is important, but they also have a great all-around education system there. I know it used to be known for being an engineering school but that's not the way it is anymore." At 6'3 230 lbs, he could very well line up as a running FB or H-Back for Lehigh.  His 21 TDs and 1,075 yards rushing were a big reason Cherokee won the South Jersey Group 4 title with an 11-1 record.  Video shows a big physical back with some nice speed for that position.

WR Sergio Fernandes-Soto (Belen Jesuit HS, Miami, FL)

The skinny: As a Wolverine, Fernades-Soto was more of a spread offense running back that was a dual threat running and catching the ball notching 613 yards rushing, 539 yards receiving and 13 TDs.  In their homecoming 48-7 win against Westland Hialeah, he scored three touchdowns - including one TD run in the "Wildcat" formation.  The video shows what sort of spread-offense, rushing threat he could be.

DT Robert Halliman (Carroll Senior HS, Southlake, TX) (Highlight video (junior year))

The skinny:  There's nothing skinny about this 5'11, 300 lb potential run stuffer.  This 2nd team all-District player out of football-rich Texas - and Carroll is one of the top programs in the state - has surprising speed to go with the 300 lb frame.  (Check out the play on the video around 40 seconds in, where he chases down the QB from behind after shaking off the block.)  If the video is an indicator of what's to come, Halliman could be a major find.

RB Cody Haupt (Montoursville Area HS, Montoursville, PA) (Highlight video (offense))

The skinny: A solid two-way player out of Montoursville, he was a Heartland Conference football All-Star - twice, at safety (second team) as well as running back (first team).  After a back injury sidelined him all sophomore year, his school made the playoffs his junior year where he ran for 260 yards in one playoff game (and, for good measure, returned an interception for a TD as well).  A tall runner that has a good nose for reading blockers. Eastern PA football noted going into the 2009 season that he "made a variety of impacts for the Warriors both offensively and defensively. He completed an 82-yard pass against Southern Columbia, and added two catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver."

FB/TE Zach Hayden (Point Pleasant Boro HS, Point Pleasant, NJ)

The skinny: After a strong year defensively where the Point Boro native was looking at FBS schools UConn and Syracuse, Hayden is projected as a fullback/H-back type of player for the Mountain Hawks.  In recruiting Hayden, Coen stated in the Express-Times that he wanted someone "physical and athletic" in the role.  One thing that might have helped Lehigh was that Hayden was injured at least his first three games his senior year, which might have scared off some of the FBS schools.  A real big H-back for our level that shows - in the Lehigh video release - that he can catch the ball out of the backfield too.

DB Rickie Hill (Tri Cities HS, Atlanta, GA)

The skinny: The captain of his football and track team (pole vaulter) at Tri-Cities, at 6'2 177 lbs he's an intriguing commit.  Video shows that he's a strong defensive back and could be a real good tackler, even possibly suiting up at LB if necessary.

OL Ashton Hood (Princeton HS, Cincinnati, OH) (highlight video)

The skinny:  Speaking of interesting new players, this 6'6 265 lb lineman out of Ohio "has become a huge presence for the Vikings and has received praises for how much he has developed in a year," beamed Rivals going into Hood's senior season, and another article had a bunch of MAC schools and even FBS Indiana and Purdue looking at him as well.  Videos show some real good blocking from his right tackle position, even if he's a little raw.

OL Mike Howell (Smithville HS, Smithville, PA)

The skinny:  "Every school I considered has a top 50 engineering program. Take football out of the equation, could I see myself going there? I saw that at a couple of places and I saw it at Lehigh, which is where football came in," said Howel in his interview with the Sunbury Daily Item after his signing.  He'll have his chance at Lehigh to do both, everybody hopes.  His video reveals that he's also right tackle who is a solid blocker.
DB Courtney Jarvis (Westlake HS, Waldorf, MD) (Highlight video (junior))

The skinny: This kid has plenty of speed, as even a quick look at the recruiting videos will tell you.  A member of 2009 Maryland state championship football, indoor track and outdoor track teams, he's an academic superstar to go with his football skills.  I really liked how he positioned himself to get an interception in the video released by Lehigh.

WR Demario Kohn (Ridgeview HS, Orange Park, FL)

The skinny: Kohn had an extremely difficult assignment his senior year: play quarterback and safety as Ridgeview switched to a spread offense.  "I want to lead by example on the field," Kohn said. "I know that by stepping up to be a team leader that everyone will be looking at me. I am ready for that."  He was, becoming second-team all-County as a defensive back.   “Demario is one of very few players we’ve had that has caught a touchdown pass, rushed for a touchdown and thrown for one in his career,” Ridgeview head coach Tom Macpherson said in his signing day article from the Clay County Leader, adding that Kohn caught 75 passes as a wide receiver and registered 150 tackles as a defensive back.  The video on Lehigh's release shows his speed - and a real possibility that Kohn could maybe be a speedy Wildcat-type wideout in addition to being a speedster.

DE Ryan Kuntz (Bishop McDevitt Prep, Harrisburg, PA) (highlight video) (another highlight video (junior year))

The skinny: The story could end up being a very happy one for Lehigh: a player that was a blue-chip prospect for Navy got caught in a numbers game and when that didn't work out, head coach Andy Coen was right there to snatch him up.  "I think I really need to build on what I did here. I pride myself on doing my job with correct technique every single play," he said. "I feel like if I can carry that on to the next level with some more speed, more strength and more power, the sky’s the limit."  If he can do that - judging by his highlight reels - he has a real opportunity to shine at the "next level".

WR Lee Kurfis (West Chester Rustin HS, West Chester PA) (highlight video)

The skinny:   "While helping keep defenses honest against RB Rondell White (1,114 rushing yards), he had 13 catches for 402 yards and seven touchdowns," beamed the Philadelphia Inquirer in announcing his signing.  While he played both wideout and defensive back at WC Rustin, he's got good hands and adjusts well towards the ball.  The first team all-Area player might find time eventually as a kick returner, too.

LB Rickey Layton (Gilmour Academy, Richmond Heights, OH)

The skinny:  We'll let the release from Gilmour Academy do the talking: "Layton captured the attention of Division I colleges for his versatility on offense and defense. He leads the team in sacks (6 ½), tackles (15), and is the leading receiver. Layton says he decided on Lehigh because “the coaches care about me as much academically as athletically” and felt the school would offer him a great education."  If you watch the video of the 6'4, 225 lb linebacker on the Lehigh site, you can see why he might "capture a school's attention", shaking off a double team and forcing a fumble.  A strong player, his coach feels he "has tremendous potential and we have high expectations for his success at the collegiate level.”

LB/LS Kyle Lechner (Del Val Regional HS, Frenchtown, NJ)

The skinny:   The confirmation noted that was Lechner "was recruited as a long snapper" according Delaware Valley head coach Mike Columbo. Rutgers, Holy Cross and Colgate were reportedly in the mix for this very underrated position on special teams.  He also made the "Mid State Valley Coaches All Star Team" as an offensive lineman.  According to his signing day article, he grew up watching "The Rivalry" and only really considered Lehigh and Rutgers as possible places to attend school.

OL/DL Matt Lippincott (Wilson Area HS, PA)

The skinny:  At 6'3 280 lbs, Lippincott has to be seen as a nice find on the "O" line for Lehigh - once again, over Princeton.  An all-State second-team and Express-Times All-Area area first-team lineman, part of his job for Wilson was to protect University of Maryland-bound QB Tyler Smith.  "Familiarity with Lehigh -- his mother worked in the university health center for a few years -- former Warrior athletes now at Lehigh and a relationship he established with defensive line coach Donnie Roberts, who recruits the Lehigh Valley, all were factors in swaying Lippincott toward Bethlehem's South Side," the article says.  From the video, we see he's a left tackle who moves well on the outside sweep.

DE Shane McCullough (The Hun School, Princeton, NJ)

The skinny: Shows you what I know: I must have driven past the Hun school a dozen times and I never knew they were an incubator of football talent!  A two-way lineman that has "worked very, very hard to get better," his senior year saw him concentrate on becoming a defensive end.   He was listed as a two star recruit on Rivals, the video from Lehigh's release shows him fighting off blocks well and playing aggressively.

DL Nigel Muhammad (St. Xavier Prep, OH) (highlight video)

The skinny: Playing on what was considered one of the best recruting classes St. Xavier has ever produced, midway through last season Muhammad led his team with five sacks and ended up as a special mention Division I all-Ohio team member.  ESPN gave him one star and a 63 rating, noting that they felt he was "undersized as a defensive end".  Video shows a good sense of where the action is, and also shows that he worked very well in the 3-3-5 stack defense as well.  I like this kid's upside.

LB Cody Raup (Lewisburg HS, Lewisburg, PA)

The skinny:  Going into 2009, Raup "helped made a significant impact defensively for the Green Dragons last season," beamed Eastern PA football.  "Raup finished the season with 68 tackles (56 solo), five interceptions, and three fumble recoveries."  A Division III first-team linebacker, his Green Dragons made the Disttict IV championship for the first time in school history, thanks in large part to Raup.  "Raup was vital to Lewisburg making a remarkable turnaround the last two years. Raup led Lewisburg in tackles for a second straight year and had 87 in addition to two interceptions. A good pass rusher as well, Raup was among the team leaders in sacks and helped Lewisburg go 20-5 the last two years after it was 10-60 the previous seven."

DB Jamil Robinson (Hightstown HS, Hightstown, NJ)

The skinny: 6'2 Robinson played both wideout and defensive back for Hightstown last year - after playing quarterback the year before - and got more press for being a receiver.  It's on the defensive side of the ball, though, where his coverage skills and closing speed (judging by the video) is what the coaches will be interested in seeing.
OL Shane Rugg (Bishop McCort Prep, Windber, PA)

The skinny:  His signing day piece, courtesy of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, says Rugg "anchored an offensive line that enabled McCort to rush for 4,212 yards, and on defense he had 79 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He was a two-time all-state selection. Rugg started all 42 games on a team that captured four LHAC crowns and four district titles."  Video shows him at right tackle with good blocking technique.

RB Keith Sherman (Lawrence HS, Lawrence, NJ)

The skinny: An all-Colonial second team running back, he led the league in rushing in the early going (rushing for 164 yards and 4 touchdowns in his season-opening game) before a ligament injury slowed him down the rest of the way (and probably having him drop off some recruiting radar screens as a result).  It's a good thing for Lehigh that happened, too, since his video shows some excellent speed and some very good running instinct.  He could be a major find.

WR/SS Tyler Ward (Western Abermarle HS, Charlottesville, VA)

The skinny: Ward, who played both receiver and safety for the Warriors, had over 90 tackles and seven interceptions in his senior year, and was named First-Team All-Jefferson District as a defensive back.
Ward says he'll concentrate on the defensive side of the ball for the Mountain Hawks.  Ward said that he preferred to play defense, and the fact that Lehigh wanted him as a safety factored in his decision.  "I'm not sure how much playing time I'll get my freshman year," he told NBC 29 in Charlotttesville, "but maybe I can get on special teams, or something like that, and maybe work my way into some playing time."

CB Winston Williams (North Clayton HS, College Park, GA)

The skinny: A second team all-region defender, Williams played both quarterback and safety for the Eagles  during his career while being projected as a 1-star recruit at running back by Scout.  North Clayton made the state quarterfinals with a 10-2 record last year, with Williams a leader at the safety position. “There are a lot of people who didn’t expect us to be here,” Williams said of their surprise playoff push.  “We have been really focused.”  He'll be an interesting possibility at corner (and maybe kick returner) down the road.


rich said…
One thing we did not take into account was the small class Coen got in his 1st year.I also expected a smaller class
ngineer said…
Coen's first class wasn't all that small. Over half fell by the wayside, either through injury or other attrition. I think the first class, primarily recruited by Lembo's staff, was about 26-28.
rich said…
Not many lasted is my point on that 1st class. Interesting article on Kohn. Played qb sr year , but a wr/db prior to that best athlete on team. Had 70 rec as wr and I think over 100 tackles at db. prior yr they went thru 3 rds ofplayoffs before losing.
Anonymous said…
Rich and Ngineer, as a parent of an incoming player,hope this class leads the way to many more Patriot League titles, see you guys in Goodman on the 11th.
Anonymous said…
Hope class develops well...but not to comfortable with players we got who were Princeton-bound according to release. I would rather hear we stole some from CAA teams.
rich said…
We did get a few Kunz and Rugg come to mind but most yrs we lose more to Il and schollie schools than we get. A fact of life for us for now
Anonymous said…
As a new fan and father, what is the so called Patsy rating on the message board,please explain, I feel left out of the loop. Thanks
rich said…
Patsy ratings were developed by Carney , a very knowledgeable Pard fan.Over the years fans in Pl have battled over which school got the best recruiting class. We started compiling ** ratings from recruit sites Scout, ESPN,Rivals to compare classes. Carney formalized it by awarding points for class size, rated recruits, size of LM, speed , filling teamneeds etc.

It is only for fun and to keep us entertained until Spring practice. While it is as objective as possible, it is not a definitive judgment on any class, as that is only possible after a couple of yrs.

Carney has been doing it for 3-4 yrs now and is planning to go back and see how Patsys reflect reality.

** ratings really have minimal value but they are fun. Many kids get a * just by showing up at some summer camps. You can look at our class and see kids who were All State and received no**. . Other kids only 2nd team all league and they develop into AllPL players.
Congratulations to you and your son for being accepted at LU. Best of luck. Any time you have any questions or comments post on Lehigh Sports Forum and we'll be there.
Anonymous said…
Zach Hayden being 6'1 and 190 pounds is far off. He is 6'2 and 230 pounds. His size will be a huge force if he plays the H-back position. But, dont' let his size fool you he has speed too.

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