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Seven Positive Thoughts About All the Patriot League Recruiting Classes

It's recruiting season.  Every incoming recruit is a Patriot League all-star, everyone is a first team all-American, everyone is undefeated.  It's all good times, a chance for kids to be admitted to some of the best Universities in the world.  In that, it's a win for everyone.

While we wait for each of the remaining recruits to be announced as a part of their recruiting classes, I thought I'd comb through all of the incoming classes of the Patriot League and tell you what sticks out to me.

This summart isn't a ratings-based system, than folks like 247Sports have in terms of measuring the number of "starred recruits" (they list Holy Cross as the "winner"), or even a hybrid-based system, like LFN's yearly Patsy Ratings (last seasons "winner": Lehigh) or HERO Sports' list of the top overall FCS recruits (which lists Lafayette as the "winner").  It's just one guy, looking at the recruit lists, and giving his opinion.

Let's start.

Bucknell (link to official release announcement)

LFN's Take:  What sticks out to me is the heavy defensive focus of head coach Joe Susan's incoming class: four safeties, four defensive linemen, two linebackers, and one corner.  Out of 19 recruits, 11 were on the defensive side.

The Bison count four seniors on their defensive line last season, so replenishing that area seems to make some sense, but only senior starters S Brett Berg and CB Nick O'Brien wave goodbye to Lewisburg this year in the secondary.  I'm a bit surprised that Susan took as many defensive backs as he did, though in Bucknell's 4-2-5 secondary the need for "hybrid" safety/linebackers seems to be great.

Recruit to Watch:  The Mini Max awards are usually a good indicator of really good high school football talent, and DB Ryan Brida, one of Bucknell's four safeties, won the award this year.

Colgate (link to official release announement)

LFN's Take: The Raiders lose a ton to graduation across the board, including an all-Patriot League offensive lineman (OL Jordi Dalmau), their top receiver (WR John Maddaluna) and their top QB (QB Jake Melville).

Though head coach Dan Hunt only got eight recruits on the offensive side of the ball, three of them were linemen, two were QBs, and two were wideouts.

Like Lehigh, Colgate didn't seem to overstock in any one particular "need area", getting balance across all areas instead.

Recruit to Watch: QB Grant Breneman has to be circled on the Raiders' list, a pro-style QB from Mechanicsville, PA.  Though listed as a pro-style QB, his tape shows the escapability and rushing ability that is highly valued up in the Chenango Valley.  According to Rivals, he had offers at Army and Cornell, but instead became a Raider.

Fordham (link to official release announcement)

LFN's Take: I am originally from Connecticut, and I found myself stunned that Andrew Breiner got so much Nutmeg state talent in his incoming class.  Six players, most of them on defense, feature.

The other interesting note is that the Rams only included three offensive skill players in their incoming class - four if you count their tight end.  Now with junior RB Chase Edmonds coming back for his senior season next year, perhaps signing "one of the best running backs the Patriot League has ever known" might not be the top priority of the class.  But it seemed like there was a lot more emphasis on the trenches - OL and DL - than skill positions.

Recruit to Watch: As a Lehigh fan I look at the statistics of DL Anthony Diodato and cringe a little.  I'm not looking forward to having the Mountain Hawks line up against the 2016 Pennsylvania 5A Lineman of the Year, 6'4, 265 lbs and a high school champion to boot for Warminster (PA) HS.  He looks like he could be a daunting defensive tackle or nose guard.

Georgetown (link to official release announcement)

LFN's Take: Since Georgetown doesn't offer conventional athletic scholarships, the Hoyas are able to offer a large number of student-athletes that make it through the financial aid office.  This is why head coach Rob Sgarlata's incoming class comprises 28 members, with a recruiting zone that stretches all the way to Texas.  Five recruits come from Friday Night Lights territory.

Even with the distant reach for Georgetown, "we made a commitment to 'Defend the District' this year by signing seven local recruits," Sgarlata mentioned in his release announcement.  That focus on retaining local talent is a new focus for the Hoyas, and it appears to have paid dividends.

Recruit to Watch: As thrilled as Sgarlata must feel to get so many players in this class, he also has to be overjoyed to get a recruit with instant name recognition, too: QB Joseph Brunell, son of the former Jacksonville Jaguar QB Mark Brunell.  Out of Episcopal HS in Jacksonville, Florida, not only is Joseph instantly recognizable as Mark's son, his highlight reel shows tantalizing glimpses of his father's arm strength and running ability.

Holy Cross (link to official release announcement)

LFN's Take: In Wooster, the decision by QB Pete Pujals to return for one more season didn't prevent head coach Tom Gilmore from using two recruiting slots on quarterbacks.  A geographically diverse class, Gilmore got recruits from 11 different states.

If you believe the "stars" assigned to recruits from recruiting sites like 247Sports, Holy Cross has a pair of 3 star recruits that has Cross fans really excited.  But what might be of more interest to the Crusader coaching staff is the presence of four offensive linemen, two of them from the state of Illinois.

Recruit to Watch: The biggest name in the Holy Cross recruiting class not only rated highly by the recruiting websites, according to HERO Sports, he had committed to Holy Cross nearly an entire year, and never appeared to waver.  One of the first public commits to an FCS school, QB Connor Degenhardt, out of Westford Academy in Massachusetts,

"It'd say it was 50/50, academics and football," Degenhardt said. "Academics are important because with a degree from Holy Cross I'll be set for life after football. But the second half--athletics--is very important because this is a goal I've worked for my whole life, and the Patriot League has great football. At a school like Holy Cross, you can never rule out the next level. The second pick in the draft (QB Carson Wentz) was an FCS quarterback and I plan to follow in that path."

Lafayette (link to official release announcement)

LFN's Take: Considering that new head coach John Garrett had just about a month to pull together his first-ever Lafayette recruiting class, the fact that he was able to pull together a class of 17 names so quickly was pretty impressive, including 10 on offense, which unquestionably was the Leopards' biggest need area.

It looks early like Garrett's biggest point of emphasis is going to be on the lines, and judging by the size of the five offensive linemen in the group - the smallest of which is listed as 290 lbs - Garrett is off to a terrific start in that area.

Recruit to Watch:  For a team that needs a linchpin on the offensive line, 6'3. 305 C Austin Pyne out of Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA is a great get in the trench.  He's the son of a former Lafayette offensive line standout, OL David Pyne, who was all-Patriot League in the early 1990s and played in the Hula Bowl, too.

Lehigh (link to official release announcement)

LFN's Take: A relatively small class of 15 (with more to come later, head coach Andy Coen promised,) was almost evenly split between offense and defense, though there was a particular emphasis on defensive backs (4).  Part of the reason for the smaller class was that three players, OL Zach Duffy, OL Brandon Short, and NG Jimmy Mitchell decided to return as 5th year seniors.

Aside from defensive back, Coen went for a broad-based approach, getting no more than two players in any one need group for his Patriot League championship-winning team from last season.  Much was mentioned about the talent coming from relative high school powerhouse programs like St. Thomas Aquinas in FL and St. Joe's Prep out of Philadelphia.

Recruit to Watch: One guy whose tape pops out at me is WR Jorge Portorreal, who comes to Lehigh by way of St. Peter's Prep out of Jersey City, NJ.  Very similar to graduating WR Derek Knott, Portorreal showed some great speed and big-play ability in his tape that looks like it would fit very will in Lehigh's offense.


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