OGDEN As he enters what might be his final season as a football coach, Ron McBride does so under less-than-ideal circumstances.
McBride is approaching the final year of his contract with the Wildcats and instead of entering the final recruiting period with a no-holds-barred attitude, the popular coach is doing so with a careful strategy designed to make the most of his limited number of available scholarships.
"We're not bringing in a bunch of people just because we want to," McBride, who coached WSU to five wins in the final seven weeks last year to establish a load of momentum said. "We know the kinds of players we need and that's what we're going after."
What the Wildcats need, McBride said, is help on the defensive line.
With all-conference nose tackle Derek Johnson leaving, Weber State had a big hole to fill between returning veterans Bryce Scanlon and Kevin Linehan. "I think we addressed that," McBride. "We've got some kids that will help us immediately and make the defensive front more deep and stronger."
McBride brought in a handful of mid-year transfers or returned missionaries and is using his remaining scholarships to target specific needs. He said he's after a little more depth on the offensive line and at cornerback as well as another running back to groom into a replacement for all-conference junior-to-be Trevyn Smith.
One position the Wildcats don't have to worry too much about is quarterback. Cameron Higgins is back as the starter after being named the Big Sky freshman of the year. Backups Jimmy Barnes and Brennan Doyle are back as well and returned missionaries Joel Hancock out of Fremont High (already enrolled for this semester) and Michael Canales from Northridge who will return in June.
One area McBride seems to be targeting is Oklahoma. The Wildcats reportedly have Del City running back Keno Meadows coming to Ogden and are in the running for lineman Pierre Alexander, a Carl Albert High product who has won a pair of Oklahoma class 5A state titles. Meadows rushed for 654 yards and six touchdowns on 110 carries.
"The D-linemen have got to be the key for us," McBride said.
With a smaller budget and fewer spots to fill, Weber State has been selective in who it brings to Ogden for official recruiting visits. McBride, for example, said only two athletes were brought to town on the final weekend before signing day.
Ryan Eastman and Demetri Enesi are two young defensive linemen McBride will certainly be happy to have in the fold should there letters arrive via fax this morning as anticipated.
Weber State also targeted defensive backs such as Bountiful's Jamie Rigby and Sacramento's Jermaine Fox. Another cornerback, Antoine Stutson, is already enrolled at WSU after sitting out the past season at a junior college getting his academic situation in order. He'll be a freshman next season.
If this is, indeed, McBride's final year coaching the Wildcats he appears to have built a foundation for his eventual successor.McBride will meet with Weber State boosters tonight at 6 at Stewart Stadium to announce and discuss the new class of recruits.