Quality rather than quantity.
That was the recruiting aim this season for the University of Maine football program.
With a more limited number of scholarship equivalencies available, coach Jack Cosgrove and his staff were more selective as they evaluated their recruiting needs.
The fruits of their labor were realized in part Wednesday when 14 student-athletes signed National Letters of Intent to attend UMaine on scholarship starting next fall.
UMaine signed 23 players a year ago and wound up with 32 newcomers. That didn’t leave a lot of room for this year’s class.
“The thing that struck me was the quality of the players we got,” Cosgrove said. “When you don’t have much [money] to work with, you wind up being more critical in your evaluations. For that reason, I think we were fortunate.”
The Black Bears will welcome in a diverse group of players hailing from six states: Maryland (4), New York (4), New Jersey (2), Pennsylvania (2), Ohio (1) and California (1).
The class is composed of three prospective linemen, three wide receiver/defensive backs, a linebacker, two defensive ends, two running backs and a kicker/punter, among other positions.
“We kind of felt like this group was more of an across-the-board deal,” Cosgrove said.
The signees, in alphabetical order, are:
Arron Achey (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), a quarterback/linebacker from Newmanstown, Pa.; Khari Al-Mateen (6-1, 185), wide receiver/defensive back, Baltimore; Damarr Aultman (5-11, 180), WR/DB, Wheatley Hights, N.Y.; Ryan Baranowsky (6-3, 230), tight end/defensive end, Moorestown, N.J.;
Devin Clark (6-3, 250), offensive/defensive line, Baltimore; Omar Jacobs (6-2, 265), DE/DT, Oakland, Calif.; Charles Kyeremeh Jr. (6-1, 210), RB, Lebanon, Pa.; Daniel Linares (6-4, 275), OT/DT, Yonkers, N.Y.;
Michael Mangiarelli (6-0, 185), DB/RB/WR, Warren, Ohio; Nicholas Napurano (6-5, 248), OL/DL, Edison, N.J.; Axel Ofori Jr. (5-10, 180), RB/DB, Gaithersburg, Md.; Jeffrey Ondish (6-2, 185), PK/P, Elkton, Pa.;
Patrick Pascal (5-10, 175), WR/DB, Greenlam, N.Y.; and Matthew Wilson (6-3, 270), OL/DL, Freeport, N.Y.
Jacobs comes to UMaine via Hofstra University, which dropped football late last fall. Jacobs made 16 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, in 11 games for the Pride last season.
“First and foremost, we’re very excited to get this group on board,” Cosgrove said. “It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, especially by the guys here on the staff going out to evaluate them, going into homes and doing a thorough background on every guy in terms of athletic ability and their character and makeup. That’s all important stuff for us to get the kind of young man we want at this institution.”
Wednesday was only the first day of the NLI signing period and Cosgrove explained UMaine has been talking with several other players, including at least two Maine high school standouts, who could still commit in the coming days.
“We’re not done yet and there are some people in Maine we are involved with that haven’t made their decisions yet,” Cosgrove said. “We always work hard at identifying the quality kids in Maine that we want to try to bring into the program.”
The student-athletes’ participation at UMaine is contingent upon acceptance to the university and compliance with NCAA initial-eligibility guidelines.