NEW RECRUITS EXCITE PANTHERS’ COACHES
By Florida Tech // February 7, 2013
24 Players In Fold On National Signing Day
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Heading into its inaugural season of play, Florida Tech football was given one final shot at a recruiting class Wednesday and made the most of it on National Signing Day.
Standing before reporters, school officials and NCAA Division II representatives, Panthers head coach Steve Englehart revealed a list of 24 junior college transfers and high school players who have agreed to suit up for the Crimson and Gray.
Englehart emphasized that in last year’s recruiting press conference, he announced 35 recruits for the program and in all 45 more freshman were brought in following National Signing Day.
“This isn’t the end of our recruiting for this year,” Englehart said. “This is merely the start and a signing day of young men we know for a fact that are coming here. We’re still working very hard at recruiting and still trying to bring in young men that will fit our program well.”
He said this year’s recruiting class had to be more strategic in what specific positions needed additional depth and how to add veteran leadership to the team.
“Obviously we play in a very tough conference one of which – Valdosta State — just won the national championship,” Englehart said. “So it was important for us this year to go after the junior college and four-year transfers because we needed to have age on this team. We needed to have guys that were experienced and have played college football games before.”
To that end, Englehart said Florida Tech’s recruiting class for 2013 includes 14 four-year transfers and junior college student-athletes.
There is plenty of size among the overall group of recruits including freshman offensive lineman Zack Hall of Port Charlotte High School and Eastern Arizona University who is 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds, and freshman defensive lineman Skylar Sheffield of Chester County High School in Henderson, Tenn. who stands 6-foot-3 and tips the scales at 305 pounds.
There’s also instant veteran leadership in junior college transfer and inside linebacker Justin Arcune of DeAnza College in California, a senior transfer from Florida Atlantic in outside linebacker Ishmael Brunson and junior college transfer and offensive lineman Steven Oveido of Los Angeles Pierce College.
Perhaps the most interesting recruit announcement for the Panthers on Wednesday was the addition of junior transfer running back Jarvis Giles of Tampa, who was highly coveted by NCAA Division I schools coming out of high school before he chose to play for Steve Spurrier and South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference.
Giles played his freshman season at South Carolina and was third on the team in rushing before transferring to Louisville and sitting out last season.
Englehart said Giles chose to return to play in Florida because of a personal family situation and when he heard about Florida Tech starting a college football team, he contacted the school about playing here.
“We’re excited obviously to have him,” he said.
Another local player sure to stir the fans’ interest is high school senior Joey Batch of Merritt Island, who helped lead the Mustangs to the Class 5A regional finals in November.
Batch’s versatility in playing cornerback and safety made him attractive to Florida Tech.
Englehart said the underlying determination as to who gets recruited by his staff are academics, football and character.
Spring football practice begins Feb. 19 and Englehart announced that FIT’s annual Spring Game will be March 23. Prior to the spring game, Florida Tech coaches and players will host a youth camp for area children.
On hand visiting during the press conference was NCAA Division II vice president Mike Racy and Josh Looney, Associate Director of NCAA Division II (and a former college football player at Washburn University).
“I was glad to be here today at this exciting time as your school gears up for its historic first season,” Racy told Englehart and his staff following the press conference. “And I like what you said about academics and character coming before everything else in the young men you look at bringing in. That’s the cornerstone of a successful program and the right way to do it.”
This was Englehart’s third National Signing Day as Florida Tech head coach.
Florida Tech 2013 Recruits: