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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2008

Size matters in Bowling Green's recruiting

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Stacked up against Bowling Green State University's last two recruiting classes, the group that signed yesterday probably takes a backseat in athleticism.

But that was by design.

BG emphasized size over speed in this year's 18-member class.

Five offensive linemen, and two more along the defensive front, are the foundation of a class that averages 229 pounds.

Twelve players are from Ohio, three from California, two from Indiana and another from Georgia. The class has a combined GPA of 3.14 and an ACT score of 20.

"It's definitely a solid class," BG coach Gregg Brandon said. "Our guys worked very hard at putting our class together. [Recruiting coordinator] Troy Rothenbuhler did a tremendous job, as usual, of getting the types of players we need to be successful."

Replenishing the offensive line was the biggest priority. Three Falcon starters and two reserves graduated from a team that finished 8-5 and made a bowl game for the first time since 2004. Casey McHugh, who is already enrolled at BG, could play immediately at tackle. The 6-6, 275-pound McHugh is one of three junior college players that Brandon expects will vie for playing time.

"We recruited him to hopefully step in and play right away," Brandon said. "We needed to get him here for the spring. He has to get bigger and stronger."

Unlike 2006, when 13 true freshmen saw playing time, Brandon does not feel as though any of his incoming freshmen must play this year. Just six starters from last year's team will not return for BG, making this recruiting class one for building depth.

"The younger guys, there's no pressure to play early," Brandon said.

Offensive line may have been the most emphasized position, but it wasn't the most recruited. Brandon isn't sure where on the field each of his six defensive backs will play but he expects some will get bigger and end up at linebacker. Included in the group are junior college transfer Robert Lorenzi and Painesville's Lane Robilotto, both whom enrolled for the spring semester. Adrien Spencer, a back from Fort Wayne, Ind., is the younger brother of Dallas Cowboys rookie Anthony Spencer.

Perhaps the recruitment of Glenville's Winston Etheridge will begin a pipeline to BG from the prolific program in Cleveland that has turned out many great college players, including Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.

"We finally got a Glenville guy," Brandon said. "It's not like we haven't recruited there. We're in there and we've done a good job. We have a great relationship with [coach] Teddy Ginn and that program."

Two quarterbacks are apart of the class. Nordonia's Aaron Pankratz will likely redshirt next year while Andrew Beam, a junior college transfer from California, is expected to challenge starter Tyler Sheehan.

"I didn't recruit him to sit and watch," Brandon said. "He's a good find for us. "Hopefully he'll pan out to be a [contributor]. He certainly has the skills. I think he'll jump right in and be able to compete with Tyler."

A third quarterback, Mentor's Bart Tanski, will come to BG as a preferred walk-on. Tanksi was named Ohio's Mr. Football this year.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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