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2016 National Signing Day Recap: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Four quality offensive linemen is exactly what the Eagles needed.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Entering Chris Creighton's third season as the Eastern Michigan head coach, 20 players are added to the roster in the 2016 signing class, including two JUCO transfers, one more from Nebraska as a graduate transfer. Overall, the Eagles really hit well on both sides of the line, quarterbacks and some running backs. Maybe the only real low point was at wide receiver, but it's still a promising class with some optimism for EMU.

POS Name Hometown (HS) Height/Weight 247Sports Rating Highlights
OL Jake Donnellon Ann Arbor, MI (Gabriel Richard) 6'5"/260 2-star HERE
S Vincent Calhoun Middletown, OH (Middletown) 5'11"/175 NR HERE
OL Mike VanHoeven Paw Paw, MI (Paw Paw) 6'5"/306 2-star HERE
LB Chase Lynch Frenton, MI (Fenton HS) 6'4"/210 NR HERE
DE Clayton Dryfuse Tiffin, OH (Columbian) 6'4"/240 NR HERE
WR Mathew Sexton Clinton, MI (Clinton) 5'11"/170 2-star HERE
OL Steven Nielsen Dragoer, Denmark (La Lumiere) 6'8"/320 3-star HERE
OL Jimmy Leatiota* San Jose, CA (College of San Mateo) 6'3"/290 2-star HERE
S Ohaji Hawkins Winter Haven, FL (Winter Haven) 6'2"/170 3-star HERE
DB Rashon Davis St. Louis, MO (CBC) 5'11"/165 2-star HERE
LB Tyler Lyle Kalmazoo, MI (Kalamazoo Central) 6'0"/210 NR HERE
RB Willie Parker Lutz, FL (Carrollwood Day) 5'9"/185 2-star HERE
DE Justice Williams Belleville, MI (Belleville) 6'5"/220 3-star HERE
QB Todd Porter* O'Fallon, IL (Garden City CC) 6'3"/185 2-star HERE
QB Isaac Stiebeling Fort Wayne, IN (Snider) 6'4"/195 3-star HERE
DE Joe Keels** Kenosha, WI (Nebraska) 6'3"/265 3-star HERE
DL Mike Smith Jr. Frostproof, FL (Frostproof) 6'3"/290 3-star HERE
CB Jalen Phelps Powder Springs, GA (HIllsgrove) 5'10"/171 3-star HERE
S Jordan Porter Colleyville, TX (Heritage) 6'0"/192 NR HERE
WR Josh Wilkes Rock Hill, SC (South Pointe) 6'2"/170 2-star HERE

Early enrollees: Steven Nielsen, Todd Porter, Jimmy Leatiota.

Preferred walk-ons: Chase Lynch, Clayton Dryfuse, Tyler Lyle.

*- JUCO transfers

**- Keels will graduate from Nebraska and join EMU in the spring.

His third signing class (read: second "true" class), this is the best that Chris Creighton and his staff has been able to bring in when it comes to offensive line. Jake Donnellon and Mike VanHoeven have been long-time in-state commits and were the first of three to send their NLIs to Ypsilanti. The class also features early enrollees in Steven Nielsen (6-foot-8, 320 pounds) and JUCO transfer Jimmy Leatiota (6-foot-3, 290 pounds) to add much-needed depth on the front.

Switching from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5 defense with the hire of Neal Neathery called for the defensive line to be more of a need to fill, as if it weren't already. Joe Keels will be finishing up his degree with Nebraksa, where he played five games this season, and will join Eastern Michigan as a graduate transfer. Local prospect Justice Williams is a good one, but maybe one that should be getting some attention is Mike Smith Jr. From Frostproof, Florida, Smith's 247Sports page will tell you he's an offensive lineman, but he'll be joining on the defensive side instead. He was once an Iowa State commit and could be in the rotation at some point this season. At the same time, it wouldn't be too surprising to see him be red-shirted his first year on campus, but he certainly has extremely promising potential.

Another good surprise for the defense was the signing of Ohaji Hawkins. Tall, skinny defensive back was a Utah commit for a while, but the 3-star prospect de-committed from the program just last week. Other players in the secondary include Rashon Davis, Vincent Calhoun, Jalen Phelps and Jordan Porter.

The quarterbacks are very promising. Isaac Stiebeling committed to the program over the summer and stayed faithful to that promise. He helped his team win a state championship in Indiana his senior season, 3,013 yards through the air with 30 TD passes. A 3-star prospect was already a big get. More recently, dual-threat Todd Porter announced his commitment after playing his junior college ball with Garden City C.C. (Garden City, Kansas). There's no guarantee that he'll be put into the starting spot with Brogan Roback entering his final season as an Eagle, but it's not like he won't get an opportunity to compete for playing time this year either. Stiebeling's very talented as well, and depending on how things shake up with these two (plus James Pensyl), it's likely to see him take the year of being a scout player to play as a redshirt-freshman in 2017.

Correction: MaxPreps was my original source for Stiebeling's HS statistics and Bryan Stiebeling has reached out to me via Facebook for corrections. This has been updated for accuracy.