Andy Talley may have scored one of his best recruiting classes ever this year, and with 18-20 scholarships available this year, he certainly could have used one. The 'Cats lost their top four rushing options to graduation as well as the three senior linebackers, and depth on the offensive and defensive lines was an issue throughout 2010.
It's no surprise then, that the 2011 recruiting class was heavy on those positions: four linebackers and three offensive linemen signed their National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.
There were also a lot of rated players. More "stars" than I can ever remember seeing on a Villanova football recruiting service page, in fact. Nine players with at least one star next to their name, and a total of 24 "stars" on the page. Both runningbacks were rated three-stars by at least one recruiting service, as were both quarterbacks. Linebackers Corey Majors and Dillon Lucas have also achieved a three-star rating, while Safety Joe Sarnese, DE Noble Ajakaiye and DT Patrick Williams were rated two-stars by the recruiting services.
I will be profiling some of these recruits over the coming days. Let's start with the running backs:
Jamal Abdur-Rahman, RB: One of the earliest commitments in the class and probably the biggest prize. Abdur-Rahman had offers from FBS schools including Temple, Purdue and, notably, Maryland, but the La Salle Prep rusher chose Villanova because, as he put it: "Villanova is at the top of their league. Maryland isn't. I'm a winner. That's what I want to be a part of is winning . . . I just felt that Maryland didn't bring that to the table."
He also really liked the personal connection he made with the Villanova coaching staff.
At La Salle, he played both runningback and corner. On offense he carried the ball 224 times for 1,755 yards (a single-season school record), scoring 24 touchdowns on the ground. He added another three touchdowns receiving on a total of 300 yards. On defense he finished his senior season with four interceptions and a reputation as a lockdown corner.
Watch video or view pictures of him signing, HERE.
Update 2/4: Terry Toohey has a new article out on Abdur-Rahman this morning. There are lots of good quotes inside, including:
They all said I was too big to go to Villanova . . . It’s hard to explain, but when you fall in love with a school, that’s it. You’re minds made up.
Kevin Monangai, RB: Joining Abdur-Rahman in the backfield is Seton Hall Prep standout Kevin Monangai. Running primarily out of the SHP triple-option attack, he racked up 2,216 yards, 35 touchdowns.
The 5'10" and 195lb rusher reportedly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, putting him on par with Villanova stand-out Brian Westbrook. In addition to his speed, Monangai makes excellent use of a classic move to shake off defenders: the stiff arm. He has been adept at breaking tackles at the high school level.
He squats about 405 pounds and that strength allows him to bring plenty of power to his running game as well as speed.
Monangai also had FBS offers, but none from BCS-level schools (though he was recruited by Boston College, Rutgers and Cincinnati). On his commitment to Villanova, he said, "I liked the brotherhood of the kids. It’s similar to what I have at Seton Hall. . . . The education is really good there, too. That’s important."