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"Signing Day" Recap, 2010

My intent for today's blog posting was to comb the world-wide-interwebs for pictures of signing day ceremonies involving Lehigh players - which ended up being a harder assignment than you may imagine.

For example, take the picture on your left there (courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer) of the graduating class of St. Xavier Prep, which was called "one of the best senior groups in more than two decades".  How hard is it to identify incoming DL Nigel Muhhamed, standing first from the left, with his Lehigh cap?

I didn't find too many other pictures - but I did find some press articles detailing some of the incoming recruiting class that is scheduled to be announced sometime next week.  All of that is detailed below.  (more)

Let's start with incoming DE Ryan Kuntz (first on the left, again) who was the subject of this nice article from the Patriot-News:

Surrounded by family, teammates and friends of the Bishop McDevitt community Wednesday, Ryan Kuntz celebrated a terrific high school football career. The 6-3, 230-pound defensive end signed his national letter of intent to Lehigh University, a perennial FCS player with deep history in the ranks of college football.

Kuntz’ scholarship package is just that, a sensational reward for long hours in the gym, his time devoted to technique and preparation both on McDevitt Field and inside the institution’s hallowed halls.

What's interesting about Kuntz' story?  According to the article, originally he was listed as a blue-chip recruit at FBS Navy - until they cooled off at the last minute:

"Last Monday we started having some issues. It was disheartening, disappointing," said Kuntz.

"They told me I was a guy they wanted, but when I called last Monday they said they couldn’t promise me anything. I would think of that happening from big-time D-I football factories, but being Navy I thought it was something different."

Coincidentally, the FBS program received a verbal commitment last week from Andrew Kinsella, a 6-7 defensive end from Kingwood, TX.

When Kuntz heard the news, he switched gears and found a new home at Lehigh.

"Colgate was very aggressive from the beginning, being my father is an alumni there," said Kuntz, sharply dressed for his LOI ceremony. "Lehigh was just as aggressive. I really like their coaching staff. Coach [Andy] Coen is a great guy. When the Navy thing didn’t work out, Lehigh was there with open arms."

As a Lehigh fan, it's hard to think about what's more encouraging: that we were at the right place at the right time to get a "blue-chip" prospect, or that Lehigh's coaching staff out-hustled everyone to sign this talented kid.

Another  signing day picture without a pretty Lehigh hat to show for it is the coverage from the Johnstown Trubune-Democrat for the  signing day of incoming OL Shane Rugg (center).    He said in the article that it was just the best fit for him:

“Everything kind of fit right. Great academics, a great school of engineering. I seemed to fit into the environment,” Rugg said of Lehigh, where he is projected as an offensive lineman. “The people at Lehigh and coaches seem to be people I want to spend four years with. At McCort, it’s been a great experience. The teammates here really make you excel. I had great teammates and great coaches. That’s what topped it all.”

Another article by the Wooster Republican details another recruit, incoming OL Michael Howell, whose decision went well beyond football:

"Before I went there, I was looking for a mechanical engineering school with a decent football program, but after my visit, I just thought 'Why go somewhere and look back wondering if I could play Div. I ball,'" said Howell, who carries a 4.32 GPA (out of 5.0) at Smithville and also earned a 30 on his ACT.

"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."

"The coaches told me I had to show up and prove myself before making any plans," Howell said. "I expect to go in at 270 pounds, and they told me in a year they'd have me up to 290.

Speaking of academics, the Burlington County Times shows why incoming FB Sean Farrell chose Lehigh: their pre-med program:

Sean Farrell wants to learn how to heal people when he's in college. He also wants to hit them while he's there, too.

Farrell said Tuesday that football played a big part in his decision to choose Lehigh over other schools he was considering. However, football wasn't the only reason.

"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."

"I was very impressed with their coaching staff and their entire approach to the team," Farrell said. "I really think the program is headed in the right direction."
Another full article from details how two central Jersey football players ended up on opposite sides of "The Rivalry".  (A grainy picture, courtesy of Channel 69 news, is what I believe was their signing day.  No word what happened afterwards; if there was taunting, or what.)  Which one ended up on the "good" side?  Why, incoming LB/LS Kyle Lechner, of course:

Delaware Valley High School senior Kyle Lechner has been attending the 145-year-old Lafayette-Lehigh football series for years. Now Lechner looks like he'll be able to play in the historic series.

The lineman/linebacker signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play at Lehigh, the same school his father Mike played tight end for in the early 1970s.

Lechner, who lives in Milford, said he really had considered just two schools — Lehigh and Rutgers. He had attended special teams camps at Rutgers. Lechner was a three-year varsity starter at Delaware Valley.

Head coach Mike Columbo said Lechner was, "as good as it gets," when it came to line play.

Lechner said he and his father had talked about attending Lehigh in the past, but his father playing there wasn't the primary reason.

"It's really the academics that caught my attention and drew me in," said Lechner, who would like to major in business or engineering. "I go to the Lehigh-Lafayette game, so to be part of it in the coming years, it's hard to believe. I'm really excited about it."

Perhaps Lechner will be matched against Hunterdon Central's Bormann, who is headed for Lafayette after getting offers from Williams and Cornell. Bormann also looked at Penn and Princeton.
There's also some other signing day pictures that come in later, too.  For example, take this article about P/K Tim Divers:

More than a few times in his three years as the kicker and punter at Wayne Hills, Divers has had the hopes of his teammates laced to his right foot.

"Everyone’s eyes are on you and you’re the only one who can make or break the situation," Divers said. "And whatever happens, good or bad, you’ve got to forget it. … It has to be a new kick every time."

Divers had to deal with a different kind of pressure the last few months, as he selected a college. And as confidently and calmly as he would step up to a game-winning kick, Divers chose Lehigh.

"Lehigh really stood out because I know they’re a great academic school," Divers said. "And they’ve also got a great football program."

Divers, who also was considering Ithaca College, Sacred Heart University and a walk-on opportunity at Connecticut, chose Lehigh after a visit last month.

"When I went on my visit, I just fell in love with it," Divers said. "They have a great business school, which is something I was looking at."
Divers plans to study accounting at Lehigh.

"Tim will have a great college career," Wayne Hills coach Chris Olsen said. "His will be a tough shoe to fill."

And another signing day piece, a short one courtesy of NBC 29 in Charlottesville, VA, on incoming S Tyler Ward:

Ward says he'll concentrate on the defensive side of the ball for the Mountain Hawks.

"They want me to play safety," says Ward. "I'm not sure how much playing time I'll get my freshman year, but maybe I can get on special teams, or something like that, and maybe work my way into some playing time."

Ward says he's happy to be sticking to defense.

"I had a preference to play defense, and that factored in my decision," says Ward. "I would have played where ever I can get on the field, but I'd rather hit people than be hit."

Also included are pictures of WR/DB Jamil Robinson's signing day. and RB Keith Sherman's signing day, courtesy of The Trentonian.  (Jamil is third from the left in the picture across from here, while Sherman, with the Lehigh hat, is first on the left in the picture below.)

That's all I found when it came to dedicated press releases about Lehigh commits.  (And if, by all means, there are any other photos of Lehigh commits at signing day ceremonies across the nation, please leave a comment at the end of this article and I'll include it.)

But along with the great there's the "almosts", too: kids who eschew money to play at Lehigh to take a shot at an FBS school.  Two highly sought recruits fell in this category this year: LB Mike Burton of West Morris Central HS in New Jersey (preferred walk-on at Rutgers) and OL Vinh Vuong (preferred walk-on at Penn State):

The good news keeps on coming for Rutgers on National Signing Day, as this afternoon Michael Burton of Chester (NJ) West Morris Central told the coaching staff that he was accepting their invited walk-on offer. Rejecting five FCS offers, Burton spoke with today to discuss his decision.

About two months ago, Vinh Vuong was contemplating playing football next year in either the Ivy League or Patriot League.

Then Penn State stepped in, and all the pondering of what’s next came to a sudden halt.

“Penn State’s been my dream school since I was in third grade,” Vuong said. “I always wanted to play at Penn State.” Dream fulfilled.

Vuong, a starting offensive lineman at State College the last two seasons, said Tuesday that he will join the Nittany Lions as a preferred walk-on this summer. 


Anonymous said…
I was hoping Nigel was the monster standing next to the little fella in the back row.
Anonymous said…
Nice work as always keeping us updated on LU Football and the rest of the Patriot League.

Lehigh actually posted a list of recruits on the site. Also there is a video at the bottom in which coach Coen answers a few questions about the recruiting class. His interview is followed by a couple highlight clips of each recruit. Thought this was a very nice job by the Lehigh folks and greatly appreciated.

Here is the link:
Fordhamanhattan said…
It should be my father is an alumnus. Gerard/ fordham fan
ngineer said…
Nice write up. Hard to get this info anywhere. And yes, Lehigh's sports dept. did a nice job on the website with the highlight tape. Looks like we're getting some speed, too!!
Daniel said…
Here's your QB of the future, Gerard Poutier. A classy young man and a wonderful athlete.

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