By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor
As published in the Feb. 5, 2009 edition of the Hillsdale Daily News
Keith Otterbein is all about being a “Hillsdale guy” through and through and his recruiting classes continue to show the school’s character and personality in very tangible ways.
East Grand Rapids running back Joe Glendening, the Gatorade Rise Player of the Year in Michigan, is the signee garnering the most attention early on, and rightfully so, given he ran nearly 2,600 yards last season. But 12 other high school seniors signed their names and faxed in their intentions to don Charger blue in the fall on Wednesday, and according to Otterbein their is plenty more than just Glendening’s commitment to get excited about.
Of the 13 players who committed to the program there are five offensive lineman, three defensive lineman, two cornerbacks and a receiver, running back and linebacker.
A second linebacker backed out from a verbal commitment Wednesday and that perturbed “Otter” a bit, but it was not enough to stop him from expressing plenty of joy.
“This group has met our needs pretty well. We liked these guys on tape and in person. Not only from a physical standpoint and a football standpoint but also because they’re our kind of guy, a Hillsdale guy,” he said. “They’re all Hillsdale guys, that’s the one thing you can say about that list. We don’t soft sell the challenges academically and the competition we have here.”
Otterbein said that unlike many football programs the Chargers actually get a majority of the guys they offer scholarships to, proof that Hillsdale is not your average D-II institution in a number of ways.
“We’re not a typical school, we’re not a typical football program. We don’t just throw a bunch of money around and hope something sticks,” he said.
Otterbein said ideally he would’ve liked to snag another couple of linebackers and possibly another wide receiver, plus a tight end, but it’s possible they will be able to do so prior to spring practices. Otterbein said via walk-ons and maybe a few more scholarship players he’d like to bring 25 new players to camp.
More than half of the recruiting class is linemen and while Otterbein said he didn’t plan on it to work out that way, he is especially pleased with the athleticism and agility of the group.
A prime example is offensive lineman Mike Cashin from Independence, Ohio. He comes in at 6-8, 240 pounds and while critics may question his weight, Otterbein is quick to point out his strengths and the potential he possesses.
“He’s not a bean pole by any means. He’s like Veldheer, he’s like Davignon, where they’re the big guy, maybe not 315 walking in the door, but those are some pretty big guys now,” he said. “And more importantly he can move. He bends his knees and can play in space and that becomes a priority in the speed game.”
Also of note in this class is a pair of cornerbacks, Nicholas Galvan (5-11, 182) of Adrian and Steven Harding (6-0, 183) of Detroit Catholic Central.
Otterbein said it may be the best tandem his staff has brought on board in a single class in his tenure here.
“I’m trying to think if ever in our recruiting classes we have brought in two guys as good as that,” he said. “We’ve had some good corners….even some all-league recognition kind of guys, but I don’t know if in a given group we’ve brought in two guys we felt were as athletic, that ran well and instinctively play the game.”
When asked about how many of the incoming recruits might see the field in 2009, Otterbein was completely noncommittal.
“We really are trying to figure that out throughout this winter based on our current guys getting bigger and stronger. The advantage the guys on campus have is they’re working out four days a week right now and they’ll have 15 practices in the spring they get in and they’ll be in either their second, third or fourth year of football here,” he said. “I would say a general statement, skill guys like (wide receiver) Andrew Mott or Galvan or Harding or Joe have more of a chance because speed is speed and the physical development will come. While as on the offensive and defensive line that overall strength comes from maturity and they’ve just got to grow up a little bit.”
Also of note in Wednesday’s commitments is that offensive lineman Tim Hornak (6-5, 215) of Muskegon Catholic Central is the nephew of Chargers tight ends / running backs coach Pat Hornak.
And even though they are from different counties, Harding and offensive lineman Nicholas Landry (6-3, 268) were actually teammates at Detroit Catholic Central.
“We like these guys and we’ve talked a lot about it. We don’t worry about the guys who don’t come, we just love and work with the guys who are here and have good skill and good character and are a good fit for Hillsdale,” Otterbein said.
The entire 2009 Charger recruiting class as of Wednesday
Nathan Bundy, DL
6-2, 248, Mt. Vernon, Ind.
Mike Cashin, OL
6-8, 238, Independence, Ohio
Zach Cherocci, DL
6-1, 242, Brother Rice
Steven Embry, LB-K
6-1, 196, Clinton, Mich.
Nicholas Galvan, DB
5-11, 182, Adrian, Mich.
Joe Glendening, HB
5-11, 178, East Grand Rapids, Mich.
Steven Harding, DB
6-0, 183, Detroit Catholic Central
Tim Hornak, OL
6-5, 215, Muskegon Catholic Central
Trent Kramer, OL
6-1, 253, Hudsonville, Mich.
Nicholas Landry, OL
6-3, 268, Detroit Catholic Central
Andrew Mott, WR
6-0, 169, Paulding, Ohio
Patrick Ryan, OL
6-5, 262, Davison, Mich.
Jordan Sharp, DL
6-2, 226, Whiteland, Ind.