Eastern Michigan recruiting class fills needs, provides size and speed for Eagles
Last year at this time, Ron English was finishing a recruiting game of catch-up, trying to meet as many of Eastern Michigan's needs as he could in a short amount of time.
Now, on the heels of an 0-12 season and with plenty of needs to address, English signed 23 players during Wednesday's national signing day while at the same time adding size and speed.
English has been in the recruiting game long enough to know he didn't meet all of the Eagles' needs. But what he added on Wednesday he believes will provide him with a solid foundation.
Rather than having to scramble to take was was left like he did after being hired last winter, English said he was able to fully evaluate talent and getting a collection of players that could help his team immediately.
"We signed the guys that filled our needs instead of taking guys just to take guys," English said Wednesday. "I just felt like we needed to get bigger and we needed to get faster. I think these guys can come in here and play.
"These are not stretches. These are guys that can legitimately play at this level."
English shored up the defensive side of the ball, adding three junior college defensive linemen in Jabar Westerman (6-2, 292), Jeramy Cutler (5-10, 274) and Jasper Grimes (6-2, 310) while also adding some strength at linebacker with Desdan Hester, who ranked out as ESPN.com's 60th-ranked inside linebacker. English also added some size at linebacker with Jeremy Curry, who drew some lower level Big Ten interest.
Offensively, Eastern added three wide receivers with good size and speed that should add some spark to an offense that had difficulty scoring last season. In addition, the Eagles added size up front, signing four offensive linemen, three of which are right around the 300-pound mark.
Of English's 23 new signees, five came from the junior college ranks, which provides Eastern with more maturity at several key spots. English said he has two open scholarships.
Although his new class of recruits will have to prove they can adjust to the Division I level, English was pleased overall, feeling like he upgraded at several key spots heading into his second season. And despite failing to win a game in his first year, English continues to believe he's on the right track.
He senses his newest roster additions believe that, too.
"They believed we could get them to become better players and I think they felt like we had things in place to win here," English said. "I think we got some guys that we can help that."
Jeff Arnold covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or 734-623-2554. Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyparnold.