The Bowling Green Falcons are working with their third coach in four seasons, and while that lack of continuity can be a problem, the Falcons have become a MAC dynasty with three division titles and two conference championships in the last three seasons.
A big part of BGSU's rise has been their success on the recruiting trail, whether it's finding solid transfers such as Gehrig Dieter and Eilar Hardy or high school gems like Travis Greene and Roger Lewis.
This year, the Falcons have set themselves up for future success by addressing a real need in the defensive backfield and by adding depth at the offensive skill positions. The 20-man group includes three-star recruits at quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. If Bowling Green is to continue their winning ways, this group will contribute heavily to that effort.
The Bowling Green Falcons' NSD Class of 2016
|POS||Name||Hometown (HS)||Height/Weight||247Sports Rating||Highlights|
|QB||Elijah Cunningham||Springboro, Ohio (Springboro)||6'3"/190||3*||Yes|
|RB||Terence Stephens, Jr.||Imperial, Pa. (West Allegheny)||6'1"/190||2*||Yes|
|FB||Leonard Skattebo (EE/JC)||Rio Linda, Calif. (Rio Linda/Sacramento City Coll.)||6'1"/245||2*||Yes|
|WR||Odell Spencer||Shaker Heights, Ohio (Shaker Heights)||5'11"/175||3*||Yes|
|WR||Rashaun O'Neal||Cincinnati, Ohio (Withrow)||5'11"/175||NR||Yes|
|WR||Jared Wyatt||Wylie, Texas (Wylie East)||6'2"/180||2*||Yes|
|WR||Darrion Landry (JC)||Baytown, Texas (Lee/Blinn CC)||6'2"/200||3*||Yes|
|WR||Marquis Zimmerman||Lakeland, Fla. (Kathleen)||5'10"/160||2*||Yes|
|OL||Lorenzo Taborn||Sidney, Ohio (Sidney)||6'5"/323||NR||Yes|
|OL||Caleb Bright||Urbandale, Iowa (Urbandale)||6'4"/290||3*||Yes|
|OL||Tim Tanner-Blair||West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West)||6'5"/270||NR||Yes|
|OL||Joe Ware||Crete, Ill. (Crete-Monee)||6'5"/260||NR||Yes|
|DL||Dirion Hutchins||St. Charles, Mo. (Francis Howell)||6'2"/215||2*||Yes|
|LB||Jerry Judd III||Streetsboro, Ohio (Streetsboro)||6'2"/200||NR||Yes|
|DB||Torrian Hampton||Lakeland, Fla. (Lakeland)||6'4"/180||2*||Yes|
|DB||Ty Redding||Warren, Mich. (Warren Mott)||6'2"/155||3*||Yes|
|DB||Cameron Jefferies||Painesville, Ohio (Riverside)||5'10"/195||2*||Yes|
|DB||Armani Posey||Detroit, Mich. (Martin Luther King)||6'1"/200||3*||Yes|
|DB||Jerry McBride III||Hannibal, Mo. (Hannibal Senior)||6'0"/190||2*||Yes|
|DB||C.J. Pickrom||Houston, Texas (Reagan)||6'1"/185||2*||Yes|
|EE = Early Enrollee|
|JC = Junior College transfer|
Bowling Green focused most heavily on two position groups: wide receiver and defensive back. Of the 20 players signed today, the Falcons inked 11 between those two areas. This is also where BGSU signed arguably their most highly-touted players.
At wide receiver, the Falcons are losing much of their 2015 production. Most notably, sophomore Roger Lewis has departed for NFL pastures, and there are also rumors swirling about another possible departure. BGSU still has Ronnie Moore, Teo Redding and promising youngsters like Tim Tupa and Scott Miller, but clearly this was a position of need.
Those needs were filled with five receivers, including two three-star players. Darrion Landry, from Baytown, Texas, was one of the final additions to the class. In two years at Blinn Community College, he caught 69 passes for 1,349 yards and 12 touchdowns. if Blinn sounds familiar, it should -- that's where Super Bowl quarterback Cam Newton went to school in between stints with the Florida Gators and Auburn Tigers. Landry stands 6'2" and could be an immediate replacement for Lewis.
The other three-star receiver was Odell Spencer. Spencer is a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio who excelled on both sides of the ball in high school. BGSU coaches are already touting his elite speed and route-running skills. He could also be a candidate to play right away.
Bowling Green complimented those signings by landing six defensive backs, including two three-star athletes from Michigan. Ty Redding, from Warren, Mich., is the brother of BGSU wide receiver Teo Redding. At 6'2", he's tall, but he's only listed at 155, so he'll have to put on some weight. Redding posted 20 career interceptions and 16 career touchdowns in high school. He picked off eight passes as a junior and five others as a senior.
Armani Posey is a versatile threat from Detroit. He excelled on both sides of the ball and was the starting quarterback on a team that won a state championship in his senior year. The final play of the championship game was his 39-yard touchdown pass for a 40-38 win. BGSU's greatest need is at defensive back, so that is where one would expect him to play, but he could also be utilized on offense.
Bowling Green's other area of focus was on the offensive line. BGSU's primary loss along their front was Alex Huettel, who started all 56 games of his career with the Falcons. To replace him and add depth, Mike Jinks signed four Midwestern linemen. The banner player of the four is three-star Caleb Bright from Urbandale, Iowa. Bright was named first-team all-Iowa by two different state publications and was placed on USA Today's Iowa All-State team. Bright also played for the North team in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.
Offense Is #1
Quarterback Matt Johnson is gone, and when you lose a guy who won MAC championships in his only two seasons as a starter, you know it's going to hurt.
BGSU has a capable replacement in James Knapke, who started the 2014 season and led BGSU to an Eastern Division title. They also have a highly-touted redshirt freshman in James Morgan. Still, the position needed depth and that is exactly what they earned in Elijah Cunningham. Cunningham is a three-star pocket passer from Springboro, Ohio. He was named conference offensive player of the year as a senior, when he threw for 3,000 yards, ran for 435 more and was responsible for a total of 41 touchdowns.
Cunningham is not likely to see the field in 2016, but the fight for playing time among these three quarterbacks should be fun. Regardless of what happens in 2016, the future at the position looks very bright for the Falcons.
Mike Jinks salvaged a potentially bad situation with Dino Babers' departure by keeping the commitment of Cunningham and adding some important skill-position players. Aside from what we discussed above, Jinks also signed a pair of running backs and a defensive lineman from Missouri
Perhaps the most notable thing about this class is how spread out the Falcons' recruiting footprint was. The 20 players came from nine states, including California, Florida and Texas. It was huge for BGSU to keep their pipeline to Florida open and even bigger that Jinks open one to Texas. He accomplished both but also potentially added footholds in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Some might say that this class needed more players for the front seven on defense, and others might criticize the relative unknowns on the offensive line. However, the depth and quality of this groups, particularly at positions of need, is a big victory for BGSU.