Blue Raiders ink 23 to scholarship agreements
Three Tennessee Mr. Football winners and others make up athletic classFebruary 4, 2009 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee head football coach Rick Stockstill announced today the signing of 23 players to scholarship agreements on National Signing Day.Video: Signing Day Press Conference
Complete List: 2009 Signing Class
"We met our needs at just about every position with this class," said Stockstill. "It is a very athletic class as the bigger body guys possess good athleticism, can run, and have a great upside to getting bigger. As for the skill guys, I think they can all run and have the athletic ability to play on either side of the ball."
The Blue Raiders inked 11 players from the state of Georgia, four from Florida, six from Tennessee, and two from Alabama. Overall, all 23 signees come from the high school ranks.
Stockstill and his staff addressed the loss of four starters on defense by signing 13 players on that side of the ball. The Blue Raiders brought in five defensive linemen, four linebackers, and four defensive backs.
"We only had 26 scholarship players on defense so we needed to go heavier on that side of the ball to create depth and competition," added Stockstill. "We had a goal of signing four linebackers because we lost three to graduation and will lose two more next year so that was an important position to shore up."
Offensively, the Blue Raiders added four running backs, three linemen, two wide receivers, and a quarterback.
"We needed to sign running backs because we were thin at the position and we brought in four with three being Mr. Football Backs of the Year in Tennessee," said Stockstill. "The three linemen now give us depth in the front that we have not had here and the two receivers and quarterback are just great athletes with solid credentials."
The Blue Raiders, who return 17 starters and 47 lettermen, will begin spring practice on March 18 with the Blue-White Spring Game set for April 18 at Floyd Stadium.
RICK STOCKSTILL QUOTES
OVERALL: "We signed 23 guys and only used 43 official visits. Of those 43 visits we brought in 13 guys we did not offer. We hit at a pretty good rate by signing 23 guys out of 30 that we offered. You don't bat that high in this business and that is a credit to our staff and the evaluation that they did. It is a credit to everyone from our players to our coaches and to our University because everyone did a great job of selling Middle Tennessee State University. "I am really thrilled about this class. They are all quality young men. They have great character and have everything we are looking for in a football player from academics, to passion, to enthusiasm and love of the game." ON
THE DEFENSIVE SIGNEES: "We went pretty heavy on defense more so than we did on offense. We only have 26 players on scholarship on the defensive side of the ball going into spring practice so we are barely two-deep. We also lost more guys to graduation on defense than we did on offense." "I really like what we did on defense. I think all of the guys have really good size and are very athletic. The defensive ends, defensive linemen, linebackers and those in the secondary are all very athletic. I think those guys have a lot of upside to them."
ON THE OFFENSIVE SIGNEES: "Offensively, we went in wanting to sign four offensive linemen, we only signed three. I didn't think we needed to sign a tight end at the beginning because we have three on scholarship but with Alvin Ingle leaving I thought we needed another tight end. We took the tight end scholarship out of the offensive line. We tried to get the guy we wanted but it was too late to go after him so we will hold that scholarship and try to find a tight end this summer."
ON THE SKILL GUYS: "The backs we signed are very good and versatile. They can play multi-positions on both sides of the ball so I like what we did there. I think our two receivers are both big physical guys that can run. Then our quarterback is what we are looking for as a dual-threat who can run and pass. I am very excited about that."
ON THE REMAINING TWO SCHOLARSHIPS: "We are pretty close to meeting our needs. We have two scholarships left. Hopefully we will get a quarterback and then either a tight end, offensive lineman or linebacker. The tight end would take priority over the others but that is what we would like to finish out the class."
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