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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2002

Recruits took notice of Falcons' success

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - When Urban Meyer went out over the past few months to put together his second recruiting class, the message was different from last year when he told prospective players about his intention to turn the Bowling Green State University football program around. After an 8-3 record in his first season, Meyer could now show them, not tell them.

“Recruiting for Bowling Green was not hard this year,” Meyer said. “Recruiting for Bowling Green a year ago was hard, but now kids saw a highlight tape and they heard about the success we had in certain games. It was completely different than a year ago.”

Meyer and his staff have added 26 players - 22 are high school seniors who signed a national letter of intent yesterday. BG also landed three junior college players and one from a prep school.

Of the 26 players signed, 18 participated in the state playoffs. The three junior college players landed by the Falcons all played in a bowl game.

“We recruited winners,” Meyer said, “As a college coach, there's nothing like going into a St. Ed's or Canton McKinley or other top programs here in the state of Ohio.

“We're not going to spend all of our time teaching kids how to win now. If you surround yourself with players who are used to the commitment that winning programs have, then you don't have to spend all of your time teaching them how to win. That was a key.”

Coming to BG from St. Edward in the Cleveland area is running back Raishaun Stover, who finished third in Ohio's Mr. Football voting. Stover rushed for 2,300 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, and had 3,700 yards and 52 TDs in his career. Meyer said he could help the Falcons right away.

Meyer also expects linebacker Jason Kaminski from Hargrave Academy (Va.), who was offered a scholarship by both Arkansas and Maryland, to possibly fill an immediate need. Linebacker Jeff Runnells and offensive linemen Vardan Mkhitarian and Jesus Yanez, all from Pasadena (Calif.) City College, should appear on the depth chart immediately.

Meyer said BG's success last season against big-name opponents like Missouri and Northwestern, and its move from the Mid-American Conference's East to the West Division, proved to be significant recruiting aids.

“We signed some guys at some key positions,” Meyer said. “But two things really helped us - first the move to the West Division really opened some doors in Chicago and allowed us to land a couple of quality kids. But the win over Northwestern - I found out that helped us across the country. The young man from Louisiana who we signed knew about Bowling Green, not because of Bowling Green's rich history and tradition, but because of the win over Northwestern.”

When BG played its final game last season, the Falcons were nine players below the NCAA limit of 85 scholarships. After this recruiting class, BG is just two scholarships below the limit. When drills open in August, 49 of the 82 scholarship players will be Meyer's recruits.

In this year's class, eight players came from Ohio, including defensive lineman/tight end Matt Leininger from Liberty Center and offensive tackle Jay Cochran from Dayton Belmont.

Meyer landed five recruits from Georgia, three each from California and Michigan, and two each from Illinois, Maryland and Florida. Louisiana and Virginia provided one player each.

“We're never satisfied with our in-state recruiting,” Meyer said. “We recruit Ohio first, and our goal is to sign half or more than half of our class from the state of Ohio. We were on some great players here, but we happened to lose some of them to the Big Ten, the Big East and other schools.”

Meyer recruited in Florida and Georgia while he was an assistant at Notre Dame and got some quality players from those states.

Omar Jacobs is from Delray Beach, Fla., one of three quarterbacks in this recruiting class. Jacobs threw for more than 1,000 yards in the state playoffs this past season, and was a second-team all-state player.



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