BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University football coach Mike Jinks welcomed 18 players into the Falcons football program Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period.
Then Jinks admitted he had one more “recruiting” task on his agenda.
“I have one more [recruiting visit] I have to make this evening — with Ms. Meredith Jinks,” he said, mentioning his wife. “I’m going to recruit her and keep her in the boat.”
Jinks and his staff were able to keep a number of their top recruits in the fold in part because this year’s signing period is two months earlier than in seasons past.
RELATED: Bios for the Falcons’ 18 signees
“We’ve got a darn good class, and I really believe that if [signing day] had been in February, there were five, six, seven guys on this roster we would have had trouble holding on to,” he said.
The class includes four linebackers, three offensive linemen and wide receivers, as well as two defensive backs and tight ends, one running back, quarterback, defensive lineman and punter.
“What we needed to do is to create depth on both sides of the football,” Jinks said, then added that the transfers of quarterbacks James Morgan and Elijah Cunningham, along with the graduation of running backs Josh Cleveland and Donovan Wilson, made those two positions a priority.
“It was key that we held on to [quarterback] Bryce Veasley’s commitment,” Jinks said. “And we went out and kept [running back] Rico Frye ‘in the boat.’
“It started there, and then we felt we needed some ‘tackle’ bodies that stood 6-5, 6-6. And we felt we needed to add to our linebacker [group], so we hunted that hard. And we were happy with the work we did.”
Veasley is a West Bloomfield, Mich., product who threw for more than 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead the Lakers to the Division 1 state title game. Frye is a native of Cartersville, Ga., who ran for 1,064 yards and 22 touchdowns in 12 games.
Veasley is one of three players who are expected to enroll at Bowling Green in the spring semester, allowing them to go through spring ball in preparation for the season ahead. The other two who will enroll early are Cooper Lee, a punter from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, and linebacker Brandon Perce from Rochester Community and Technical College in Minnesota.
“We want to build through the high school ranks, but there are some positions where we had an immediate need,” Jinks said of adding two junior college players. “Brandon Perce is an explosive player who we were lucky to get. ...
“And with our kicking situation, we lost one of the best punters in the country [Joseph Davidson], so we got the best junior college punter in the country.”
Jinks said the Falcons hope to add six more players before Friday — when the early signing period ends — or on Wednesday, Feb. 7, when a new signing period begins.
“We wanted to sign 80 percent of our class now, and then we’ll see how the dominoes fall,” he said. “There were kids out there who chose to wait, but as we look around the country we see rosters are filling up fast.”
Jinks said the Falcons would like to sign another tight end and a defensive lineman, then go “big-game hunting” for top players, presumably at running back.
“We’ve got a board, and we have a good idea at targets for our February class,” he said. “Then again, I expect that board will grow with guys who were expected to sign with particular universities and did not.
“A lot of the guys who are left are top-20 guys. But there are going to be some guys who are big-time guys who have waited, and I think it will be like the wild, wild west in February.”
Bowling Green’s recruiting class includes players from 10 different states, including three from Ohio, Missouri and Texas as well as two from Florida and Michigan. Jinks said he expects February’s signees to bolster the number of local players who join the Falcons.
“When we go out in January, I don’t know that we’ll take a flight,” he said. “The foundation of our class is there, and we want to continue to go out in the state of Ohio and bordering states and hit them hard.”
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