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Bowling Green brings in impressive crop of talent with 2015 class

Babers and Falcons go heavy on defense with 2015 recruiting class.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Dino Babers announced his second recruiting class as the head coach of the Bowling Green Falcons on Wednesday afternoon.  Inheriting a team made up almost exclusively of players recruited by former coach Dave Clawson, Babers won the MAC East division last year, as well as a bowl game.

Babers proudly introduced a class made up of 24 athletes that have signed letters-of-intent to play for the Falcons this coming fall.  Babers is a "system guy" on offense and this was his first chance to spend a full year recruiting players he thinks fit into that up-tempo, spread offense at BG.  However, the Falcons seemed to be more focused on the defensive side of the ball as the majority of the class are projected defenders.

Here is the complete list of the Bowling Green Falcon 2015 recruiting class:

Player Hometown (School) Pos Rating HT/WT Highlights
Antonyo Sotolongo Miami, FL (Gulliver Prep HS) DB 3-Star 6' 0"/200 Yes
Harrison Roberts Euclid, OH (Euclid HS) LB 3-Star 6' 1"/210 Yes
Janarvis Pough Hollywood, FL (American Heritage HS) WR 2-Star 6' 1"/175 Yes
Deric Phouthavong Columbus, OH (Hamilton Township HS) WR 3-Star 6' 3"/205 Yes
James Morgan Green Bay, WI (Ashwaubenon HS) QB 3-Star 6' 4"/215 Yes
Scotty Miller Barrington, IL (Barrington HS) WR 2-Star 5' 10"/163 Yes
Blake Lucky Hobe Sound, FL (South Fork HS) LB 2-Star 6' 3"/210 Yes
Derek Lee Wichita, KS (Butler CC) TE 3-Star 6' 4"/245 Yes
Zack Sharp Lake Mary, FL (Lake Mary HS) OL NR 6' 8"/320 Yes
C.J. Lamar Orlando, FL (Lake Mary HS) RB 2-Star 6' 0"/204 Yes
Nico Lautanen Mentor, OH (Mentor HS) DL 3-Star 6' 3"/270 Yes
Jack Kramer Plainfield, IL (Plainfield North HS) DL 3-Star 6' 3"/295 Yes
Kyle Junior Middletown, OH (Middletown HS) DL 2-Star 6' 3"/245 Yes
Robert Jackson, Jr. Fort Washington, MD (Bishop McNamara HS) DB 3-Star 5' 11"/168 Yes
Tyler Horstman Vero Beach, FL (Vero Beach Senior HS) DL 2-Star 6' 4"/230 Yes
Brandon Harris East Cleveland, OH (Shaw HS) ATH 2-Star 6' 3"/205 Yes
Matthew Finkler Kirtland, OH (Kirtland HS) LB 2-Star 6' 2"/234 Yes
Matt Domer Hazel Crest, IL (Mount Carmel HS) RB 2-Star 5' 11"/190 Yes
J.C. Bartok Columbus, OH (Worthington Kilbourne HS) OL 3-Star 6' 5"/275 Yes
Bobo Jones Xenia, OH (Xenia HS) DB 3-Star 6' 1"/181 Yes
Jamari Bozeman West Palm Beach, FL (Suncoast HS) DB 2-Star 6' 2"/190 Yes
Eilar Hardy Reynoldsburg, OH (University of Notre Dame) DB 4-Star 6' 0"/202 No
Sam Crosa Columbus, OH (Dublin Scioto HS) K NR 5' 8"/140 No
Michael DuVernois Plantation, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas HS) P NR 5' 11"/170 No
Shemar Moss Columbus, OH (Marion-Franklin HS) DL NR 6' 4"/240 No

Heavy on Defense

As many as 14 in the class are slated for the defensive side of the ball as they start their college careers.  It makes a lot of sense for Babers and the Falcons to be thinking defense this recruiting season.  Last year, the Falcons struggled mightily on defense and are losing seven starters off that unit.

The help on defense was spread out pretty evenly as six defensive backs, five defensive linemen and three linebackers were added.

The 3-star players added on defense include: defensive backs Antonyo Sotolongo, Robert Jackson, Jr., and Bobo Jones: defensive lineman Nico Lautann and Jack Kramer; and linebacker Harrison Roberts.  Another defensive line recruit, Matt Finkler from Kirtland High School was the Ohio Division VI Defensive Player of the Year in both 2013 and 2014.

It's interesting to note that the incoming defensive backs have some great size to them, with five of the six being listed at 6-foot or better.  Recruit Brandon Harris from Shaw High School in East Cleveland is listed as an "athlete" who could play on either side of the ball.  At 6-foot-3 he has the size to be a dynamic wide receiver, and in fact was very productive at that position this past year with 40 receptions for 2,250 yards and 14 touchdowns.  But he also recorded 120 tackles, 15 sacks, forced 10 fumbles and had two interceptions last year on defense.  Most likely he'll be used where he gets on the field the fastest.

Also in this year's Falcon recruiting class is Kyle Junior (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) from Middletown (Ohio) High School. Junior at least has a great pedigree as his father is E. J. Junior, the former Alabama player who was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and played 13 seasons in the league for five different teams.

Reloading on Offense

The Falcons return 10 starters from one of the most potent offenses in the Mid-American Conference the past two years.  Babers' offense is very unique and it's interesting who he recruits to fit into his system.

His biggest recruit on offense seems to be the next trigger man for Babers' #FalconFast offense.  He landed 4-star quarterback James Morgan from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Morgan has the size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and arm strength to remind people of another quarterback Babers had some success with, Jimmy Garoppolo.  Babers coached Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois, who was eventually drafted by the New England Patriots.  Morgan threw for 5,964 yards and 60 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons combined.  He was ranked as a Top 25 quarterback in the nation by all four major recruiting sites.

Morgan will have some guys to throw the ball to among his fellow recruiting classmates.  Deric Phouthavong from Hamilton Township High School in Columbus, Ohio is a 3-star recruit who has great size at 6-foot-3.  He had 66 catches for 1,051 yards and 10 touchdowns last year as a senior.  Also in the class is speedy Scotty Miller from Barrington, Illinois.  Miller is projected as that slot possession receiver that's so important in Babers' system.  Miller has reportedly been clocked at running a 10.6 in the 100 meters.

An interesting signee at running back is Matt Domer from Mount Carmel High School in Hazel Crest, Illinois.  Domer (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) originally signed as part of the University of Illinois recruiting class in 2013 but had academic troubles and never enrolled.  He was rated the 24th best running back in the nation out of high school, a Top 25 player in the state of Illinois by both Scout and ESPN.com, and led Mount Carmel to back-to-back state championships in both 2012 and 2013.

Transfers/JUCOs to Make an Immediate Impact

Babers continues to explore transfers and JUCO players as a way to infuse impact talent into his program.  The 2015 class includes JUCO tight end Derek Lee from Butler Community College in Kansas.  Lee has the size for the pro-type tight end at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, but also lined-up as an H-back at Butler.  It will be interesting to see how he's used next year as Babers' offense this past season went without using a true tight end.  However, Babers did utilize a tight end quite effectively at Eastern Illinois so maybe Lee is more to his liking at that position?

Former 4-star recruit Eilar Hardy has announced he is transferring to Bowling Green for next season.  Hardy, originally from Reynoldsburg (Ohio) High School, played defensive back for Notre Dame the last three seasons and has graduated and has a year of eligibility left. He is eligible to play immediately and will provide much needed experience and leadership to a defensive secondary that lost three starters from last year's unit.

Also expected to be in the mix for starting positions and playing time are transfers Robbie Rhodes (WR) from Baylor and Malik Brown (DL) from Tennessee.  Both players transferred last year and Rhodes was not eligible to play.  Brown was ruled eligible in late-August and played very little.  However, he's expected to be in the rotation among the defense line this coming year.