The Lincoln Blue Tigers announced 14 new signees to their football program on Wednesday during National Signing Day.
In his second recruiting cycle as head coach, Jermaine Gales feels he was able to be more selective this go around.
“The first time was probably half a cycle for me,” Gales said. “We were able to pull some mid-year guys in on the fly and we were able to put a really good class together as far as numbers are concerned. But this go around, I think we were able to pinpoint a little different type of talent, and what I mean by that is we were able to be a little more selective on who we bring in from Year 1 to Year 2.
“We are not just looking for bodies, we are looking for guys that can help continue this program going in the right direction. We are trying to stack recruiting classes on top of each other.”
Due to ice storms in surrounding states, some players were unable to sign their official letters of intent Wednesday. The Blue Tigers are expecting the recruiting class to grow in the coming days and finish around around 30 players.
“We are expecting to have about 25-to-30,” Gales said. “… It’s going to be over the course of the next two days or so, we will have a much clearer list. We have 14 right now, which doesn’t sound like much, but we should have around 30 or so.”
The Blue Tigers once again put an emphasis on getting recruits from the state of Missouri, as they signed six in-state kids Wednesday.
The six range from across the state with three coming from St. Louis -- wide receiver Travis Reeves (Timberland High School), defensive back Jeremiah Watson and linebacker Jaydan Trotter (Hazlewood Central High School) -- one from Kansas City with offensive lineman Mason Igou from Van Horn High School, one from Springfield with the signing of running back Dante Sample out of Hillcrest High School and even one in town, as Lincoln was able to secure linebacker Ethan Garnett from across Lafayette Street at Jefferson City High School.
“I think (Garnett) is a really feisty player,” Gales said. “… He’s going to be a good football player. We anticipate him being able to help us on the defensive side of the ball and on special teams. I’m really excited to get a Jeff City product to decide that he wants to play football not even 300 yards away.”
The Blue Tigers are also trying to take advantage of the states surrounding Missouri, as the school offers in-state tuition to students from all states that share a border with Missouri.
This showed up in the recruits announced so far, as 13 of the 14 meet that requirement, including the six in-state players.
“It’s good for us to recruit the Arkansas’, the Tennessee’s, even the Iowa’s and the Nebraska’s of the world, so we get the most bang for our buck,” Gales said. “Even though it says it’s out of state, it’s in state for us.”
Lincoln signed four offensive lineman and a defensive lineman Wednesday, as building from the trenches out was a major focal point.
With the wear and tear of the positions of the offensive and defensive lines, stockpiling talent is at the upmost importance for the Blue Tigers.
“Every good football team starts in the trenches,” Gales said. “You can’t have too many of those big guys down in there. It’s rough on the body down in the trenches, both defensive and offensive front. We wanted to make sure we got some quality offensive lineman to build our team around and I think we did a good job of that.”
Another need Lincoln tried to address was the defensive backfield, as it signed Ramar Smith (Little Rock, Ark.), Bryant Coley (O’Fallon, Ill.) and Watson.
While more recruits are expected to sign their letters of intent to attend Lincoln University in the coming days, Gales and his coaching staff will have until April 1 to complete their recruiting class.
“When April 1 rolls around, we are going to have a totality of the recruiting cycle and we will have a much clearer picture of what is going on then,” Gales said.