Wednesday February 1st, The University of Akron’s football program held it’s annual signing day press conference, lead by head coach Terry Bowden. The team signed 13 new national letters of intent to incoming student-athletes. Seven of these athletes are from the Akron area including schools such as Akron East High School, and St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Coach Bowden called this year’s signing a turning point in the recruitment of local talent. Due to the recent success from the program, local athletes are attending the University to continue their athletic careers instead of seeking it elsewhere. Most of these athletes signed early after the bowl game and during the bowl season. Out of the remaining six signees, four are Florida natives, and the remaining two reside from Virginia and Texas.
Coach Bowden Spoke highly of defensive lineman Eric Bentley (St, Vincent-St. Mary HS), and Deandre Brimage (East HS). He stated that Bentley was “The guy they are most excited about.” From his highlight tape he shows great hands and explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. Bentley, an undersized defensive lineman standing at 6’2’ 244 lbs could be used at linebacker. Bowden articulated how defensive lineman and linebacker were two positions that were heavily addressed within the signees. When it comes to defensive lineman Deandre Brimage, Coach Bowden praised his abilities. Brimage is one of the driving forces that sparked an interest, for many recruits to bring their talents to Akron. He also felt that Brimage was one of the best defensive lineman in all of Northeast Ohio. His resume backs this theory up, while finishing his senior year with impressive numbers. These numbers include 51 tackles, nine sacks, 21 tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Coach Bowden also expressed the importance of speed within the recruitment process. This was addressed with the two signees, Dustin Burkhart (Coventry HS), and Malik Woodridge (St, Vincent-St. Mary HS). The coaches fell in love with the speed of last year’s addition of JoJo Natson, who lead the team with 10 receiving touchdowns, and finished second in receiving yards. Both Burkhart, and Woodridge were track athletes who ran a 10.8 in the 100 meter sprint. Burkhart gives them a big body while standing six foot tall, and 188 pounds. This feature in a receiver is something that can replace Jerome Lane who declared for the 2017 draft. Burkhart timed under a 4.40 forty-yard dash, multiple times while attending a camp held by the Zips. Woodridge who has similar attributes to Natson with a 5’9’, 168 pound frame, can be featured as a running back or a slot receiver. Bowden glorified his leadership by describing him as, “The leader of St. V’s program…he was a guy that really pulled those players together and when you watched practice, he was always the guy that spoke. You love his personality and he loves being at Akron.”
Bowden stated how essential it was to find, and recruit depth for this team so they can provide fresh legs for a whole 60 minutes. In his five years while being with the team, he has had injuries that have set back the success of each season. This past season was a key example of this, while dealing with injuries with the starting quarterbacks, Thomas Woodson and Tra’Von Chapman.Based off of these injuries, this forced the hand of Tyrell Goodman to take over at the quarterback position. Goodman was a redshirt senior wide receiver, who had no college experience at the quarterback position. The zips bulked up the position with the signing of Nick Johns (Leesburg, VA), and Alex Ramart (Richmond, Texas). With former starter Woodson not due back from shoulder surgery until this summer, both will be in the open competition for the starting quarterback position. Both of these quarterbacks have great potential through the air, and on the ground. Ramart finished his senior year with over 70% completion percentage, and 4,000-plus yards while leading his team to the Semifinals in Texas. Johns’, a redshirt sophomore, was rated a three star recruit by ESPN.com, Scout.com, Rival.com, and 24/7 Sport.
For more information on all of Akron Zips Football and Athletics, visit their official site at http://www.gozips.com/landing/index.