Ken Baraba, Brunswick, OH
Chargers gain 16 commitments
RJ Walters, Sports Writer
An 8—3 record and national press for some of its’ key players was certainly a big step forward for the Hillsdale College football program in 2007, but head coach Keith Otterbein is hoping for greater things still, including league championships and D—II playoff appearances.
On Wednesday the program took another step in becoming what Otterbein ultimately hopes it will be in gaining official letters of intent from 16 players.
Otterbein didn’t single out any athlete as being the star of the class, but he did say that he really likes the size of many of the defensive and offensive line recruits who signed.
Of the seven linemen who committed, three of them are listed at 6—foot—4 and they all weigh at least 256 pounds.
“I would say there is a lot of girth in this class, more so than usual. The guys are very well filled out and these linemen are similar to guys in our recruiting class two seasons ago,” he said.
The largest of them is offensive lineman/ defensive lineman Zachary Brown out of Canal Winchester High School in Ohio, at 6—foot—2 312 pounds.
Otterbein said he is extremely happy with his recruits on the line, but he is far from ready to anoint any of them key contributors right away.
He also said he studies his players case by case to determine if redshirting as a freshman is the most sensible option.
“Guys are always going to be better football players the older and more mature they are. Sure we’re going to play a guy if he’s mentally and physically ready, but it’s really case by case,” Otterbein said. “I know that I lined up on special teams as a freshman and was wide—eyed and didn’t hardly know if the football was blown up or stuffed. I’d have traded that season for one as a fifth—year senior in a heartbeat.”
One player Otterbein did say he hopes to get immediate contributions from is punter Andrew Wilburn out of Rockford, Mich.
The 6—foot—1 187 pound Wilburn will try and fill the void left by the departure of senior Matt VanOver who wasthe GLIAC Punter of the Year in 2007 while averaging a league record 43.4 yards per punt.
“Andy has phenomenal extension and balance. His leg goes so high it reminds you of the classic Ray Guy picture (former Oakland Raiders All—Pro punter ),” Otterbein said. “He’s also a great athlete and played linebacker in high school. I told him to be ready to kick on August 30 (when Hillsdale opens against St. Joseph ).”
Wilburn is the only special teams athlete that signed Wednesday, while five were defensive players, two can play on either side of the line and eight are offensive players.
Of the eight offensive signees, Otterbein had the most to say about 6—foot—4, 183 pound quarterback Anthony Misfud out of Dearborn, Mich.
Misfud is the son of Dave Misfud, a wide receiver on the 1985 National Championship team and Otterbein said he has high hopes for the younger Misfud’s future.
“He has decent speed and decent athletic ability, but his dad’s a high school coach and played and we like guys who have been around football a lot,” he said. “He’s highly intelligent and a big time gym rat which we like.”
Otterbein said Misfud went to a lot camps at MAC schools and generated interest from some D—I programs, but he may just have been a number two guy on the list of a school who only took one or number three on the list of a school that took two.
Also on offense the Chargers signed several lineman, a pair of receivers and a halfback.
Cameron White of Forest Hills Central (Grand Rapids ) is listed as a halfback, but Otterbein may have a different position in mind because he said he didn’t get a tailback in the class, but wasn’t worried.
“Sure we were interested in getting a tailback, but you have to look at what you need most. We offered to some guys, but they went elsewhere and that’s okay because we have good depth and stability at that position, so we didn’t go hunting up that spot,” he said.
Seven of the recruits are from Michigan, six from Ohio, one apiece from Indiana and Illinois and wideout Andrew Young is from Oregon (Oakland High School ).
“Honestly, I’m really happy with what we’ve got and they are very talented,” Otterbein said. “I feel really good about this class and we didn’t settle for anybody; we got who we wanted.”