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Thursday, February 07, 2013College Football: Keys' third class features 23 players
In an upstairs conference room of the Phil Gardner Fitness Center Wednesday afternoon, Rob Keys and his University of Findlay football assistants were busy updating the school's national signing day web site.
The excitement of adding new players to a program that has risen to respectability is evident among the coaches.
The Oilers have gone 13-8 in Key's first two seasons, punctuating that stretch with three wins over nationally-ranked opponents, and the 2013 class of 23 players is a sign of the distance that has been created from the 1-10 campaign of 2010.
Findlay finished 7-3 a year ago, tying for second in the always rugged Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
"Looking back on that first year, we had to recruit to a 1-10 football team and convince players that that is what we are going to do to be successful," Keys said. "It's gotten a lot easier. We can show them on paper now what we have accomplished and we can focus on filling specific needs rather than just recruit because we need players."
One of those needs was the front-line on both sides of the ball. The Oilers signed five offensive linemen, including North Baltimore's Jady Snyder, a 6-foot-4, 285-pounder who lettered four times.
Ottawa-Glandorf's Wyatt Karhoff was one of four defensive linemen signed by the Oilers. Karhoff (6-4, 245) was a first-team all-Ohio selection last season. He was also named the northwest district defensive player of the year.
"Some of those players we brought in have a chance to move into the two-deep from day one," Keys said. "They are very good players, and while they all have some deficiencies, they are willing to work on the things they need to improve on."
Verlon Reed, a transfer wide receiver from Ohio State, is included in the class and started school at Findlay in January. Reed played quarterback, receiver and defensive back at Marion Franklin and will get a shot to fill the void left by starting signal-caller Clay Belton, who threw for more than 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
"He is one of the better athletes in the country," Keys said. "He will bring a different dimension to our offense. We are going to give him a shot to be our starting quarterback, but he has already said that if isn't the quarterback, he is willing to be a receiver. He is a team guy."
Several skill players are included in the class. Micah Johnson is a talented 6-1, 185-pound wide receiver out of Unity High School in Illinois. He helped lead his team to a state title as a senior.
Darnell Fields out of Romulus, Mich. is a 6-2, 185-pound quarterback who racked up 3,700 yards and 25 TDs as a senior.
Running back Anthony Linnear out of Northside High in Fort Wayne has drawn comparisons to Monterae Williams, who wrapped up his career in 2012 as Findlay's all-time leading rusher. Linnear (5-9, 185), a two-time all-state selection in Indiana, rushed for 1,431 yards and 13 TDs last year.
"We have some great athletes coming in," Keys said. "Johnson gives us speed at wide receiver, Fields is a good athlete, and if he doesn't play quarterback, he can play somewhere else. (Offensive line) coach Kory Allen said Linnear reminds him a lot of Monterae. They are the same size and have the same look and personality. He has the potential to be a great running back."
Wide receiver Jason Moore (6-3, 190) is from Oberlin and was coached by Fred Howery, a member of the Oilers' 1992 NAIA national championship team. He caught 31 passes for 521 yards and four TDs last year and also threw for 1,166 yards and five scores.
The Oilers signed three tight end/H-Back players in A.C. Limes (6-3, 200, Ostego), Anthony Federico (6-2, 220, Willoughby) and Jared Evers (6-0, 230, Ithaca, Mich.). Evers played on three state championship teams. They added a defensive end from North Hardin High School (Ky.) in Johnny Hopkins (6-0, 250).
The Oilers have recruits representing five states and Keys said his staff deserves a lot of the credit for the recruiting efforts.
"We rarely ask recruits about who else is offering them (scholarships)," Keys said. "We go by our evaluations and our staff did an incredible job of recruiting. They hit so many schools and so many players and put in countless hours."
Three years into his career as a head coach, Keys is pleased with the direction his program his headed.
"We would have liked to be undefeated at this point, but the progression from where we started to where we are now has gone well," Keys said. "We focus on building our program with players that resemble the coaches and players we have here. We want competitive, hard-working, tough players who love to be challenged."
2013 UF Recruiting Class
Verlon Reed, 6-1, 205, QB, Ohio State/Marion-Franklin: Started five games at OSU as wide receiver; 23-6 in his career as a high school quarterback.
Jared Matte, 6-5, 270, OL, Utica (Mich.) Eisenhower: Earned letters in football, wrestling and track.
Ryan Caprathe, 6-5, 315, OL, Farmington (Mich.): Two-time all-conference selection; team captain last season.
Steve Mathie, 6-4, 275, OL, Canton Glen Oak: Three-year letterwinner; second-team all-conference as senior.
D'Avon Adkins, 6-0, 285, DT, Walnut Hills: First-team all-conference ; team captain; 80 tackles and 6 sacks last year.
Wyatt Karhoff, 6-4, 245, DL, Ottawa-Glandorf: First-team all-state; northwest district defensive player of the year; tallied 86 tackles, 6 sacks as a senior.
Anthony Federico, 6-2, 220, TE/HB, Willoughby South: Caught 24 passes, 684 yards, 7 TDs; tallied 44 tackles & 5 sacks.
A.C. Limes, 6-3, 200, TE/HB, Ostego: Two-time all-Northern Buckeye Conference; rushed for 439 yards and 5 TDs.
Jady Snyder, 6-4, 285, OL, North Baltimore: Earned four letters.
Tory Clark, 6-0, 195, Athlete, Grove City Central Crossing: First-team all-conference; netted 2,169 all-purpose yards.
Johnny Hopkins, 6-0, 250, DE, North Hardin (Ky.): Played in the Border Bowl and Bluegrass All-Star Game; racked up 97 tackles.
Jared Evers, 6-0, 230, TE/HB, Ithaca (Mich.): Helped lead team to three state championships ; scored 19 TDs, while recording 67 tackles, 8 sacks.
Jason Moore, 6-3, 190, WR, Oberlin: 2-time Patriot Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year; threw for 1,166 yards, 5 TDs, caught 31 passes for 521 yards & 4 TDs, rushed for 14 TDs.
Micah Johnson, 6-1, 185, WR, Unity (Ill.): Helped lead team to a state title as a senior and to the state semifinals as a junior; state qualifier in track.
Anthony Linnear, 5-9, 185, RB, Northside (Ind.): Earned first-team all-Indiana twice; rushed for 1,431 yards, 13 TDs; tallied 79 tackles.
Darnell Fields, 6-2, 185, QB, Romulus (Mich.): accounted for 3,700 yards & 25 TDs as a senior, including 2,200 yards passing.
Myles Alexander, 6-0, 210, LB, Euclid: Recorded team-high 124 tackle along with 5 sacks and 2 interceptions.
Quinten Wessell, 6-0, 230, LB, Delphos Jefferson: Rushed for 627 yards, recorded 133 tackles as senior.
Ben Adkins, 6-2, 245, DE, Groveport: Team MVP as a senior; earned three letters, 86 tackles and 5 fumble recoveries.
Nathan Hughes, 6-1, 230, OL, Howell (Mich.): Two-time first-team all-conference.
Lane Kleilein, 6-4, 175, K, Buckeye Valley: Mid-Ohio Conference selection, 6 of 7 field goal attempts, 29 extra points.
Brandon Kelly, 6-1, 215, LB, Withrow: 3-year starter who helped lead team to pair of league titles.
Keinyi Dixson, 5-11, 170, WR, Flushing (Mich.): Holds three school records for kick and punt returns.
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