The Charlotte 49ers’ second football recruiting class is all about depth.
“We had to find somebody for every spot,” coach Brad Lambert said Wednesday after announcing the program had signed 19 players. “We’re making sure we’re adding depth across the board.”
The start-up 49ers, who will play their first season beginning in August, signed 16 freshmen and three junior-college transfers. That adds to Charlotte’s first class from 2012, which was composed of 27 freshmen last February. Since then, the 49ers announced they will move up from the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA in 2015.
That changed the nature of Charlotte’s recruiting, and Lambert and his staff had to increase their efforts with a goal of having the FBS limit of 85 scholarship players on the roster by 2015. To do that, Charlotte recruited more – and higher quality – players this season than they originally thought they’d have to. Lambert said he anticipates having 58 scholarship players next season (the FCS limit is 63) on the way to 85 in 2015.
“We had to strike that balance,” he said. “It was interesting, having to get some older guys, too. We wanted (a transfer) at every position.”
The 49ers signed 11 defensive players and eight on offense – including kicker Blake Brewer from Concord’s Cannon School. The only position they didn’t add to was quarterback. Lambert said more transfers – including some from four-year schools – might be added to the roster before the season starts, possibly at quarterback.
Ten of the recruits are from North Carolina, which remains the 49ers’ primary recruiting area. Five are from South Carolina, two from West Virginia and one apiece from Georgia and California.
The cornerstone of the class might be defensive back/wide receiver Martay Mattox, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College who was highly recruited out of high school and originally signed with South Carolina. Mattox, who said he left South Carolina because of lack of playing time and academic issues, is good enough that Lambert said he might play on both sides of the ball at Charlotte.
Lambert said the best freshman might be Eugene German, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound offensive lineman from Martinsburg (W.Va.) High who also plays on his high school’s basketball team.
“He’s everything you want in an offensive lineman,” said Lambert.
Another freshman, offensive lineman Tevin Lawshe of Mallard Creek High, was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Lambert said he anticipates red-shirting half of the 16 freshmen, including linebacker Dustin Crouser, who is still rehabbing an injured knee that forced him to miss most of his senior season at George Washington High in Cross Lanes, W.Va.
That mirrors the philosophy of Lambert’s former boss at Wake Forest, Jim Grobe, who redshirts as many freshmen as he can each season.
“We don’t want to waste them,” said Lambert. “We don’t want to put freshmen on the kickoff team or the field goal team just to play them. We’d like to have some fourth-year juniors out there when we start in Conference USA.”