For many years, Division I college football coaches had to wait until February to get their prized recruits to sign a National Letter of Intent.
This season, there is expected to be much less fanfare in February.
That’s because under new rules enacted this year, Division I programs could begin accepting signed NLIs on Wednesday. It’s the first day of what is now a three-day early signing period for football.
The University of Maine on Wednesday announced the signing of five players who will join the program next summer.
The Black Bears have landed a defensive back, a wide receiver, two linebackers and a defensive end.
UMaine’s new additions include Katley Joseph of Ottawa, Ontario, Joshua Lezin of Jackson, New Jersey, Nah’Sir “Flash” Morgan of Atlantic City, New Jersey, Adrian Otero of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, and Jonathan Smith-Cobb of Townsend, Delaware.
“We are excited to welcome our new Black Bears to Orono,” said Harasymiak in a press release. “We feel as a staff that we have done a great job identifying young men and their families that fit our Black Bear values. Our program develops young men in an environment in which they can be successful. We are thrilled at the start to our recruiting season and look forward to adding more in February.”
Any recruits who have not signed on the dotted line by Friday will have another opportunity during the late period for football, Feb. 7 through April 1.
Joseph is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back who played at Canada Prep Academy. He was a four-time MVP at St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School, a four-time NCAFA Eastern All-Star and a two-time OVFL Wettges All-Star selection.
Lezin (6-1, 261) is a linebacker out of Lakewood High School who twice earned all-state recognition and was a three-time All-B South selection and a two-time B South Defensive Player of the Year who paced Lakewood to four state playoff appearances and a B South Championship in 2015.
Morgan (6-4, 190) was a standout wideout at Atlantic City High School who garnered two all-conference honors and was a 2017 Press Player All-Star.
Otero (6-1, 223) was a Pennsylvania Football Writers 6A All-State honoree at linebacker who was the 2017 District 2 Defensive Player of the Year and the Wyoming Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He helped Hazelton win the PIAA District 2/4 Subregion Championship last season.
Smith-Cobb (6-3, 223) was a two-time All-State second-team choice at linebacker for Middletown High School. He led his team to two state runner-up finishes and a pair of Flight A Conference titles.
UMaine will be trying to replace the presence of 17 seniors, including 11 starters, next season. The Black Bears lost four starters on the offensive line alone, in addition to two wide receivers and star tailback Josh Mack, who plans to transfer.
On defense, UMaine must replace three starters on the defensive side of the ball.
The Black Bears open the 2017 season Thursday, Aug. 30, against traditional border rival New Hampshire at Alfond Stadium in Orono.