Updated Wed, Feb 5, 2014 8:05 pm
The Ohio Bobcats signed 24 new recruits on Wednesday, including 14 offensive pieces, nine defensive players and a punter.
The 2014 class is highlighted by Maleek Irons and Papi White, two running backs with distinctive styles. Irons, a downhill runner, recorded 3,204 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2012, while White recorded a nearly identical 3,220-yard total with 41 touchdowns. White is more of a shifty runner that can be elusive in open space, providing Ohio with a thunder and lightning freshman duo.
“[Irons] has been one of the most productive players in Canadian football history,” cornerbacks coach James Ward said. “He’s a big running back with speed and toughness.”
“[White] has a great burst and can be used out of the backfield,” offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tim Albin said. “He shows great patience, vision and knows when to hit the gas and go.”
Ohio also added quarterback Joey Duckworth from Louisville, Ohio, and two tight ends, but the Bobcats especially loaded up on offensive linemen and wide receivers. Jake Pruehs from St. Edward High School highlighted the group of five offensive line recruits, while Robbie Walker from Washington Gonzaga High School in Washington, DC, is an explosive standout in the group of five wide receiver signees.
“I was talking to a few of the other linemen when they started workouts this year and they all said there’s a new feel around,” Pruehs said. “It’s definitely going up and I want to contribute to that.”
“[Walker] played in a football conference that had 22 Division I scholarship offers,” Ward said of the wide receiver signee. “He stayed with Ohio all the way even though he was being recruited by a bunch of power conference schools."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bobcats particularly focused on the secondary, signing five defensive backs. Cornerback Curtis Brunson, a three star recruit out of Farmington High School in Michigan, highlights the group. Brunson drew offers from Toledo, Akron, Illinois State and Ohio after earning MVP honors at the Adidas Invitational last March. Brunson could be in the mix to replace cornerback Travis Carrie in his freshman season.
“He is a tremendous competitor and a very diverse athlete,” Ward said of the cornerback. “He has great speed and ball skills.”
Punter Mitch Bonnstetter also comes to Ohio after averaging 46.1 yards per punt at Iowa Central Community College in 2013. He ranked first in the country in 2012 when he averaged 41.4 yards per punt and could help the Bobcats mend recent struggles in the punting game.
“I think we’ll have a lot of young guys playing from this class,” head coach Frank Solich said. “There are a lot of guys that are already physically mature and mentally mature.”
The Bobcats will continue winter workouts until hitting the field for spring practice starting in the second week of March. Ohio’s annual Green and White Spring Game will take place on April 12 at Peden Stadium.