Rockets add 27 on signing day, ranked No. 2 class in MACWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With former UT head coach Tim Beckman now at Illinois, the Rockets football program has picked up right where he left off on the recruiting trail.
The Rockets announced its 2012 recruiting class on Feb. 1, as 27 of the 45 players which visited Toledo during the year signed their national letter of intent to join UT. The team will also add four preferred walk-ons.
“I have one of the greatest jobs in the world because I get to sell the University of Toledo and its football program,” UT head coach Matt Campbell said. “What you see is the relationship between [UT President] Dr. Lloyd Jacobs and [Athletic Director] Mike O’Brien and our faculty and staff in our football program is second to none. It’s something that can never be taken for granted because it’s one of the things that shows up day-in and day-out when parents and players come to the University of Toledo.”
Scout lists Toledo as the 61st ranked group in the nation, six spots behind conference-foe Temple.
Among the teams Scout ranks UT’s class higher than are Beckman’s new team in Illinois, which is ranked 67th in the country. The Rockets also have a higher-ranked class than the SEC’s Mississippi (63), the Big Ten’s Wisconsin (62) and Minnesota (68), the Big East’s Connecticut (66) and South Florida (69) and the ACC’s Boston College (71) and Wake Forest (72).
“We have the best coaching staff in America. The loyalty they have given me and the University of Toledo has been second to none,” Campbell said. “We went through a coaching change and the majority of this staff and these players were already committed to us. What I take more pride in this class than anything is these kids stayed committed to the University of Toledo, stayed committed to Matt Campbell and our coaching staff and most importantly stayed committed to our football team already here.”
This is the first year in the last three seasons that the Rockets have not been ranked as the top class in the MAC by at least one service. Toledo was chosen as the No. 1 class by Rivals the past two years, and, according to Scout, finished first last year and second in 2010.
The Rockets accomplished their main goal in recruiting of getting kids from “Rocket Nation,” otherwise known as those located within four hours from Toledo. In the Rockets class of 27 signees, 24 are located within that area.
“One of the great prides we have with this staff is we try to do as good of a job as anybody putting a fence around a four-hour radius of Toledo,” Campbell said. “We try to get the best players in that area and keep them home in Toledo. Twenty-four of our 27 signees are from a four-hour radius from our doorstep and I’m really proud of that.”
Among the 27 signees, six will represent Toledo in the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic, the longest-running high-school All-Star game in the U.S.
The Rockets also boast four players in the PNC Big 33 Football Classic, one of the top All-Star games in the nation featuring the best recruits from Ohio facing those from Pennsylvania. The Rockets have two players on each team.
Finally, the Rockets also have one PARADE Magazine All-American in three-star D.J. Larkins, selected with the honor as one of the top five defensive backs in the nation. Larkins is expected to play wide receiver for Toledo.
Toledo’s most notable signing is Corey Jones, a four-star wide receiver out of Pennsylvania. Jones is just one of two four-star recruits to join the MAC (Montrell Dobbs, RB, Temple). The 5-foot-8, 165-pound slot receiver is one of three players (Treyvon Hester, Chaz Whitaker) to join UT out of Penn Hills High School, the same school that produced former Rockets Barry Church, Archie Donald and Tyrell Herbert.
“All three of those young men that are coming from that program have seen guys like Barry Church come here and be successful not only in the football program but in the classroom and community,” Campbell said. “When you can go brag about those kinds of people, it is an easy sell.”
Also joining the Rockets are two junior college transfers who will be sophomores in 2012. Cameron Cole is a cornerback out of Fort Scott Community College in Kansas; punter Brad Dunavant comes from Trinity Valley Community College in Austin, Texas.
The most important number for Campbell in this year’s class is the 3.124 GPA of the incoming freshman, the highest total of any class since Campbell arrived on staff three seasons ago.
“I know some times it seems like lip service in college football but one of the things I can tell you is academics count at the University of Toledo,” Campbell said. “Not everybody is a 4.0 student, but our challenge to the players we bring in is ‘Are you doing what you are capable of in the classroom?’ We take so much stock and put so much time into that and I’m really proud of the quality of young men we are bringing in as student athletes.”