__ESPN.com ranks Kearney 52nd-best quarterback in nation__
p. Quarterback Nolan Kearney and running back Jonathan Grimes headline the Tribe’s 12-member recruiting class, announced by Head Coach Jimmye Laycock Wednesday.
p. The signees will join the Tribe over the summer in preparation for next season. The College returns 18 starters, nine on each side of the ball, from the team that finished 4-7 a year ago.
p. “We didn’t sign as many players this year as maybe some other years just because of the number of returning players we have coming back,” Laycock said. “We tried to get guys that could do different things, that were versatile, could play different positions, could play different sides of the ball, and kind of go from there.”
p. Eight of the recruits have seen time on the offensive side of the ball, while six specialized on defense in high school. The Tribe inked four linemen, two on each side of the ball, while also adding depth at the skill positions, signing a tight end, quarterback and running back.
p. Robbie Gumbita, a 6’4,” 298 lb. offensive lineman, who received two stars on the recruiting website Rivals.com, is one of nine recruits from outside the state of Virginia. Four members of the class are from New Jersey.
p. “We want to cover in-state. It’s just the way things fall. Some years we’ve gotten a lot of in-state [recruits] and some years we haven’t,” Laycock said. “You can’t go focus on one particular position or one particular area, or you’re going to be in trouble.”
Highlighting this year’s class on the offensive side of the ball is Kearney of Glenmoore, Pa. Ranked 52nd among signal callers by ESPN.com, Kearney is a strong, athletic 6’4’’ lefty who threw for over 2,200 yards and scored 30 total touchdowns in his senior season.
p. Grimes of Palmyra, N.J., and wide receiver C.J. Thomas of Mount Airy, Md. have both received attention from national recruiting websites, as Grimes is ranked 166th among running backs by ESPN.com and Thomas earned a two-star ranking from Rivals.com. Thomas had 50 catches during his senior year for a total of 867 yards and 19 touchdowns. Tight end Alex Gottlieb of Delray Beach, Fla. will look to fill the gap left by the departure of All-Conference tight end Drew Atchison.
p. Defensively, Chris Johnson will lead a class that features plenty of speed and athleticism. Johnson, a defensive end from Virginia Beach, earned two stars from Rivals.com and used his speed from the weak side to record 14 sacks as a junior. Brian Thompson of Somerset, N.J., another two-star recruit from Rivals.com, will be a strong addition to the Tribe’s secondary, as will local prospect William Webb of Newport News.
p. While Laycock doesn’t expect every recruit to see action next season, the coach left open the possibility that we may see true freshmen on the field this year.
p. “You never know,” Coach Laycock said. “Hopefully these guys are good enough to play as freshman. They’ve got to be good enough, there’s got to be a need and they’ve got to want to play. That’s our criteria.”