Falcons go heavy on OL during signing day

   
After filling out the previous three football recruiting classes with the NCAA maximum of 25 scholarship recruits each year, Bowling Green was able to be a little more selective in the recruiting process for 2012.

The Falcons stocked up on offensive linemen, signing six in the 20-player class.

“We really felt we needed to solidify the offensive line,” Bowing Green head coach Dave Clawson said. “In the last two years we have really been playing with a short-hand on the offensive line in terms of numbers.”

Overall in the incoming class are three players from junior colleges; one from a military academy; and 16 high school seniors.

“We ended up getting the class we wanted at the positions we felt we needed,” Clawson said.

Heading into spring practice, counting the long snapper, kicker and punter, Bowling Green returns 21 of its top players for the 2012 season, barring injuries.

TOP OF THE CLASS

–C (David) Keli’i Ke’kuewa (Keaau, Hawaii, Kamehameha HS, Arizona Western JC) — Helped Arizona Western reach the NJCAA championship game and he was a first-team All-America.

“I have a hard time not seeing him in the mix,” BG head coach Dave Clawson said about Ke’kuewa, whose nickname is ‘Chief’.

Ke’kuewa is 6-feet-3, 300 pounds, and will fill an immediate need at center if he’s ready to play.

–WR Michael Allen (Los Angeles, Lynwood HS, East Los Angeles College) — Allen is an experienced receiver who should fill a position of need as Bowling Green graduated six receivers in 2011. Allen had originally signed with San Diego State, but was a class short of graduating from East LA and kind of fell off the recruiting radar. In 2010 at East LA he had 51 receptions for 674 yards and four TDs.

“I really believe we stole one here,” BG Coach Dave Clawson said about Allen.

–S Josh Pettus (Detroit Southwestern HS, College of DuPage) — Pettus is a big physical safety. At DuPage in 2011 Pettus had 69 tackles in nine games, including 42 solo stops. He finished with 5.5 tackles for loss (for 17 yards), including a sack for 11 yards. He also forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, five passes broken up and five interceptions that he returned 125 yards.

NOTES, QUOTES

Falcons still looking to hire OLB coach

–Outside linebackers coach Stan Watson left Bowling Green after three seasons to coach cornerbacks and be the special teams coordinator at arch-rival Toledo. As of Feb. 1, Coach Dave Clawson has not hired a replacement for Watson.

Four 2012 recruits are already enrolled at Bowling Green — Michael Allen, a wide receiver from East Los Angeles College; Coy Brown, a linebacker who graduated early from Northwood High School in Wakarusa, Ind.; Scott Davis, a tight end from Fort Union (Va.) Military Academy; and (David) Keli’i Ke’kuewa, an offensive lineman from Arizona Western Junior College, who is originally from Hawaii.

SPRING SNAPSHOT:

Practice begins/ends: March 15/April 13

Practice priorities: The Falcons are looking to solidify the offensive line; audition anyone who wants to play wide receiver; and work out the young quarterbacks in an effort to find competition and backups for starter Matt Schilz.

On defense, the majority of starters return and the Falcons will be looking to develop depth in all positions.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “For the first time since we have been here as a staff, we didn’t have 25 to sign. When you have a full class to sign, you are very concerned with filling the class and making sure you get enough players in the program, just so you have guys who can line up. This year our goal number was right around 20 and fortunately we hit that number. This year … we were more patient. Because of that we probably had to fight a lot more recruiting battles; some we won, some we lost.” — Dave Clawson, who is in his fourth season as Bowling Green’s coach.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

KEY LOSSES: WR Kamar Jorden and WR Eugene Cooper. The pair combined for 145 receptions for 1,897 yards and 21 TDs in 2011. Looking to fill that void are Michael Allen, a junior college transfer, and JaRon Stokes, a transfer from the University of Michigan. Also in the mix is Shaun Joplin, a redshirt junior, has the most experience in BG’s offense and he has the ability to be in the top group of receivers. The Falcons also have two experienced tight ends returning.

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2012:

QB Matt Schilz — Schilz has started 22 games and has made a major improvement from 2010. In 2011, Schilz finished with 3,024 passing yards to become the fifth different quarterback in school history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season. Schilz threw 28 touchdown passes and only 13 interceptions this season after having eight TDs and 14 interceptions in 2010.

RB Anthon Samuel — Samuel set a school record for rushing yards by a true freshman with 844 in nine games in 2011. He had five rushing TDs and also caught 15 passes for 93 yards.

LB Dwayne Woods Jr. — Woods made 111 tackles in 2011, his second consecutive season with more than 110 tackles. He has 269 tackles in his three years at Bowling Green and is among the top three linebackers in the Mid-American Conference.

DT Chris Jones — Jones led the Mid-American Conference with 8 1/2 sacks and added 14 tackles for loss in 2011. Look for him to continue to improve and have a strong senior season in 2012.

KOR/R Jerry ‘BooBoo’ Gates — Gates finished the season with 38 kickoff returns for 981 yards. His returns are third most in BG history while his yards are the most-ever by a Falcon in a single season. He was also second on the team with 73 tackles from his rover position. He had a team-leading two interceptions. Gates could be moved to safety as the Falcons are looking for bigger, more physical players there.

–P Brian Schmiedebusch — Schmiedebusch turned in a valuable weapon for the Falcons, after sitting out the 2010 season as a transfer from the University of Findlay. Schmiedebusch punted 57 times in 2011, averaging 43.5 yards per punt. He had 18 punts land inside the 20-yard line and 19 punts go 50 yards or longer. The Falcons did not have a punt blocked.

PLAYERS NOTES

–QB Trent Hurley has transferred to Delaware. He saw limited action in 2011.

–DB Aunre Davis has transferred to Mercyhurst.

–RB Erique Geiger left the program.

–RB Andre Givens, a top-rated recruit who first signed with the University of Pittsburgh and later attended Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., is enrolled at Bowling Green and will be working out with the team in the spring.

–RB Jamal Hosley, a member of the 2011 recruiting class suffered a broken leg last summer and did not enroll at Bowling Green for the 2011 fall semester. He is now in school and will be working out with the team this spring.