The first Wednesday of February isn’t like any other hump day in the world of college football.
National Signing Day always is exciting at the Division I level as the most-sought after recruits in the nation make their public announcement where they’ll be playing collegially next year.
Division II may not have as much anticipation or thrill but Valdosta State football, one of the top programs in D-II, officially added 25 players in hope to join the winning tradition the Blazers pride themselves with.
“Just being at a place that wins and winning the national championship. You can’t replace that kind of exposure with anything else. The bookstore has done a great job having merchandise galore in there; you can find anything national championship stuff. It makes our job easier when everybody is wearing that and promoting our program,” Tilmon Clark,recruiting coordinator,said.
The Blazer coaching staff will tell you that recruitment is a year around deal that rarely ever sleeps.
Bouncing back and forth from high schools all over Georgia, VSU staff put in countless hours knit-picking targets and potential signees.
“For the most part it’s all Georgia. It’s fun to be able to recruit this time of year and tell parents and recruits from Georgia that we’re running with kids like you and I, people from Georgia,” Clark said.
This year’s signing class is four players fewer than the 29 signed last year.
This is due to abundance of players returning for another season to defend the title as champions,as a result this year’s signing class wasn’t as large as last years.
“The Black Swarm” added 14 of the 25 to reinforce the relentless defense.
As far as positions goes, the Blazers were expected to add more than one offensive lineman to the list of signees Wednesday since the entire senior starting five o-line are gone now.
Brantley County’s Mitch Woodward was the lone offensive lineman that committed on signing day.
The coaching staff looks to acquire more experience players at this position from junior-colleges that are expected to commit further into the year.
The Blazers were in contention to pick-up a commit from Butler Community College’s Zach Burkhart until a few days following his official visit when he inform VSU he wanted to stay closer to home which is 13 or so hours away from Valdosta.
While Clark agrees that the offensive line is the “immediate need”, he speaks for the rest of the staff saying that it isn’t first concern.
“I would say the main focus for us is to find players in general. To go out and find the best talent is what our main priority is.”
Outside of Jefferson County’s Alphonso Footman, who was recruited last year and will begin working out this spring, the other 24 players get their chance to fight for playing as early as this summer.
This past season’s true freshman standouts Cedric O’Neal and Jake Walker will be the models for the incoming signees, who look to make an impact as soon as they step on campus.
Another strong signing class this year is a result of the persistent VSU coaching staff that continues to make binding relationshps with high school coaches and loyality to win with kids from the Peach State. Spring workouts for the Blazers begin on Feb. 15.