OGDEN — The initial recruiting class for first-year Weber State University head football coach John L. Smith features 17 freshmen, including six from Utah, who will play for the Wildcats in a group Smith classifies as "a little better than I expected coming in due to the short time period we had."
Smith, who took over the Weber State helm in December following the retirement of Ron McBride, signed 15 players to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. Three other future WSU players are currently enrolled in school.
"I thought it was a good year," said Smith, who has had previous head-coaching stints at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State. "I'm usually not over the top on recruiting classes. Again, I've never known a coach who ever said he had a bad recruiting class on signing day.
"I think it was better than I expected with the amount of time that we had … with new coaches and all of that, I was pleased. I thought it was a great year. I thought our guys battled their tails off out there and worked real hard at it, and I think our people on campus did a great job for us as well.
"I'm a big believer in length, trying to recruit as tall and lanky a kid as we can find out there. … We tried to find length and athleticism, guys that can make us better," he said. "And we're by no means done yet. Recruiting is a year-around deal, so there be a few more coming on board right away."
The list of 18 incoming players includes seven offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three defensive linemen and a couple of quarterbacks.
Among the Wildcats' signees were in-state recruits Austin Mikkelson, a 6-foot-4, 297-pound offensive lineman from Pine View High in St. George; AJ Wilcox, a 6-5, 235-pound defensive end from Syracuse High; Davonte Maez, a 6-1, 165-pound cornerback out of Hunter High; and Siamani Harris, a 6-3, 230-pound defensive end from Hunter High who Smith says has plenty of potential at several positions and could contribute to the program in a big way.
Breck Lewis, a 6-1, 195-pound freshman quarterback, played his prep football at Spanish Fork High and graduated in 2009. He is already enrolled at Weber State after serving an LDS Church mission. Shane Oliverson is a 6-4, 245-pound defensive lineman from Hyde Park, Utah, who was a two-time All-State selection at Preston High in Idaho. Like Lewis, Oliverson has already enrolled at WSU after serving an LDS Church mission.
"I feel good about it," Smith said of his squad's in-state recruiting. "I'm not ecstatic because I think we have to do a better job next year and I think we will. … We're going to continue to work it as hard as we can here and I expect us to do an even better job next year."
WSU also received commitments from offensive linemen Joe Hawkins (6-1, 300), from Vero Beach, Fla.; Maxwell Curtis (6-5, 250), from Mountain View High in Meridian, Idaho; Duncan Farnsworth (6-6, 285), from Lilburn, Ga.; Yuvraaj Madra (6-5, 270) out of Mather, Calif.; and Cameron Young (6-3, 299) from Cove, Texas.
"We've got some good O-linemen, some nice length, some nice bodies there in that offensive front and some big, strong kids," Smith said. "A couple kids in that class could possibly help us even the first year out of the box. And that's strange for offensive linemen. Normally that's getting bigger and stronger and takes at least a year, because it's a technique spot and you have to have size and strength. Normally it's the skill kids that can play early, but there may be a couple of kids in there at the offensive front that could help us right off the bat.
"We'd still like to find a couple of defensive kids, and we're going to continue to look and see what else is still available and recruit year-around."
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