National Signing Day is tomorrow, February 5th. For high school football players, this is now considered one of the biggest days of the year. And although the Villanova Wildcats still ply their trade at the FCS level, they have become a program that consistently finds itself among the Top 25 programs in the country, and at the top of the CAA conference. Recruiting well is one of the main reasons why they've gotten there, and is one of the main necessities for how they will stay there over the long haul.
When it comes to FCS recruiting, often times the best recruits are ones that have the underlying talents but need a little seasoning before they hit the field. The 250-pound offensive lineman, the high school running back or QB switching to receiver, and others who won't necessarily be slated to contributors as freshmen. For that reason, unlike the pro-ranks, a recruiting class will generally be more reflective of the past-fall's junior class make-up more than the outgoing seniors.
However, with limited scholarships, more-immediate needs also need to be met. Players transfer, drop-out, switch positions, leave the program or suffer injuries. When that happens, the team may prioritize their position, or even seek a transfer from a bigger program or a junior college.
Villanova always takes a few linemen, of course, and that trend hasn't changed this season. Big strong kids who have the potential to get bigger and stronger as they learn a college-level blocking scheme are the target for these coaches.
In terms of immediate needs, the defensive backfield (Craig James & John Maughan lost to graduation), defensive line (Antoine Lewis & Rakim Cox) and offensive line (Dan Shirey, Billy Vogel & Josh Bucci) could use reinforcements. The offensive line is set to take another big hit next year when Ross Hall, Kyle Wallace and Vince Kowalski run out of eligibility, so the stockpiling can't stop now.
Looking at the 2-year window, running back (Kevin Monangai and Austin Medley will be seniors), and wide receiver (Poppy Livers and Clay Horne are in the same boat) are must-fill positions as well.
Andy Talley currently has 13 scholarship commitments and 1 preferred walk-on committed heading into Wednesday.
- QB Zach Bednarcyzk
- OL Chris Buchalski
- OL Brandon Hitner
- WR Alessandro "Alex" Padovani
- WR Matt Brown (preferred walk-on)
- RB Matt Gudzak
- DL Rick Young
- DL Eric Drains
- LB Jeff Steeb
- LB Ed Shockley
- DB Rob Rolle
- DB Malik Reaves
- DB Rasaan Stewart
- K Steve Weyler
- ATH Taurus Phillips
Villanova's defense suffered in the backfield in 2013, so it's nice to see three talented, athletic players join the impressive freshmen class of Trey Johnson, Jason Ceneus and Wes Smith (returning from a knee injury next season) that signed in 2013. Similarly, three offensive linemen is a good haul for a unit that is suffering heavy casualties over the next couple of seasons.
Here is the list of seniors from Villanova's 2013 roster who have used up their eligibility and definitely will not be back.
- OL Dan Shirey
- OL Josh Bucci
- OL Billy Vogel
- FB Ransford Quarrie
- WR Joe Price
- WR Vinnie Gatti
- WR Garrett Waller
- DL Rakim Cox
- DL Antoine Lewis
- DL Josh Lumer
- LB Patt Haggerty
- DB Craig James
- DB John Maughan
- K Mark Hamilton
- K Conor McAliney
That's a match for match on total numbers heading into Signing Day, but there are always 1-2 surprises that the day brings, so we'll stay on the edge of our seat to figure out what they might be.
We are going to be releasing profiles on each of the players as Villanova confirms their commitments, so stay tuned to this StoryStream as well as the hub that we'll be placing at the top of the page all throughout NSD.
- The Sun's Arizin: Villanova Wildcats news and links for February 4, 2014
- Xavier vs. Villanova recap: Wildcats shoot down Musketeers 81-58
- Women's Basketball Update: P'cats trying to bust onto the bracket
- College basketball rankings: Villanova jumps to #6 in AP Poll
- Big East Weekly Awards: James Bell named to honor roll, Big 5 Player of the Week