National Signing Day is a day of hope. And nowhere is hope needed more than at FAU, home of a 1-11 football team.
Twenty-nine players from the high school and junior college level are joining the Owls next season, but their impact is still yet to be seen. New head coach Carl Pelini’s first recruiting class at FAU is comprised of only three players from Palm Beach Country, but interestingly he feels his rapport with coaches and players in the county is strong, even after objections from Palm Beach County coaches about players not getting a fair shot.
“We have a great relationship,” Pelini said. “I think they all enjoyed their visits. We had a great working relationships with the high school coaches and with the players alike.”
Of the players he did obtain, Pelini spoke highly of the immediate impact they can make. Melvin German III, a quarterback who transferred from Pearl River Community College, is a player Pelini believes can run his new offensive system.
“Big arm. He’s got a big strong arm. He really spins the ball well. Ran a no-huddle offense, pretty in control there,” Pelini said. “Very mature. Good leader. Was kind of their guy that their team rallied around. Very successful. Won a lot of games there. Just very experienced in a spread offense,managing the game, calling plays at the line of scrimmage, making audibles. All the things that we’re going to ask our quarterbacks to do, he showed on tape that he was capable of doing. ”
Coming off its worst season ever, FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert should not be guaranteed a starting position. Pelini agrees and think German is capable of challenging for playing time.
“It’s an open competition, Pelini said. “May the best man win.”
After averaging 12.9 points last year, second worst among the 120 teams in Division 1, an offensive overhaul is necessary. Protecting the quarterback will be critical, and Pelini believes he signed a pair of players eventually up for the task in Arthur Crouse (American Heritage) and Dillion Deboer (East Lake).
“I think what we were able to get with Dillon and Arthur was great length, but guys who were probably two years away from stepping into a starting position on the field,” Pelini said. “But when they do and they put that weight on the right way, with their speed and their athleticism and their length, they’re going to be tremendous, tremendous offensive lineman. I’m very excited in those two and the future they have at FAU.”
This signing class is the first opportunity for Pelini to put his stamp on a program that had one voice since its inception. It is not an easy task, but one that he is clearly up for the challenge. Whether this class will improve the win total is debatable, but Pelini is confident the Owls will be a better team next season.
“I think it’s a well rounded class,” Pelini said. “Very talented. We were able to hit almost every position. We filled our needs list. At least, in terms of how we had targeted prior to recruiting and the number of needs we had at each of our positions,” Pelini said. “We filled those very well. Felt really good coming out of the recruiting that we made ourselves an awful lot better.”
It will take multiple recruiting classes to bring in the talent necessary to build the program into a consistent winner. Recruiting is vital, and Pelini has a plan to turn around the team.
“In terms of recruiting itself, it’s about getting out and hitting the pavement. Getting in front of the high school guys,” Pelini said. “Sitting with the parents in their living room and explaining to them why FAU is a better choice for their kid or their boy than a number of other schools are.”