As the summer progresses, current players on Division II rosters will continue to improve on their own as they await summer camp. But when August arrives, a new crop of student-athletes will step foot on campus to push them even harder for playing time.
The PSAC has been known for being a power conference among D2, and the rich got richer this offseason as each team has signed key players at key positions to help their program going forward. Here, we take a quick look at who you’ll see in a PSAC team’s uniform this coming season:
Slippery Rock made its biggest hit in a guy who doesn’t have to wait until August to see the field. The Rock, in need of a quarterback, went to Youngstown State and signed transfer Dante Nania. Nania was able to work with the team through spring ball and got the starting nod at QB in the team’s spring game. He completed 14-of-25 passes for 182 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He’s likely to be The Rock’s starter come August.
On the freshman side of things, SRU brings in Pennsylvania’s leading receiver from last year’s high school season in Mike Merahut. At Pine-Richland, Merahut caught passes for 1,532 yards and 16 scores, averaging just under 100 yards per game and just over 13 yards per catch. In an explosive offense, Merahut could contribute immediately. SRU also bolstered its defense with an impressive defensive end by the name of Rahdezz Henderson, from Blairsville. Henderson was the Indiana Gazette Defensive Player of the Year last year after posting 72 tackles – 6.5 per game – and 3.5 sacks.
Gannon’s recruiting class begins with Brady Bowling. Bowling is a monster offensive lineman from Lakota West that the Golden Knights want to play center. While redshirting for all freshmen at Gannon is encouraged, the Knights believe Bowling could skip that and play immediately. Bowling is 6-foot-4, 260 pounds and moves very well. On defense, middle linebacker Jay Bullock should impress on-lookers. A power hitter from Garfield Heights, Ohio, Bullock shows great mental and physical toughness.
Lakers fans will see a familiar name on this year’s upcoming roster as the team signed QB Doug Altavilla, whose brother, Dan, played baseball for Mercyhurst before going to the MLB. Like his brother, Doug possesses a strong arm and attention to detail from the signal caller position. On film, he’s shown to be a pocket passer that can find the open man. The Lakers also bring in a stud from West Virginia named Theo Blackston. It’s unsure where Blackston will play, but he showed in high school he can dominate at running back or linebacker. A big 6-foo-2, 230-pound brusier from Wheeling Park High School, Blackston looks for contact and then goes through it.
The Vulcans bring in one of their better recruiting classes, this one coming with a family twist. Coach Mike Kellar has singed his son, Jarrod, to the squad at the QB position, Jarrod comes from Lincoln High School in West Virginia, where he finished his career as Harrison County’s career passing leader after just three years. During his senior year, he showed his playmaking ability by moving more out of the pocket and pulling it down to run. He has a strong, accurate arm and comes with a Cal U work ethic.
Behind him is a highly-touted running back from Ohio. Mike Davis was ranked the No. 64 RB in Ohio before coming to Cal. He ran for 1,257 yards last year while scoring 16 TDs and was named second-team All-Ohio. Davis comes from the same school as Cal’s Nick Grissom.
IUP has brought in a pair of brothers who were once among the best in the country. Drew and Jay Harris were both highly recruited out of high school, Drew by Virginia Tech and Jay by Michigan State. Drew was ranked the No. 26 RB in the country in 2012 before going to junior college. Jay was ranked the 119th best WR in 2013 before choosing the same option. Now, both are at IUP.
In addition to those two, the Crimson Hawks bring in defensive back Mikale Makle. A first-team All-State, All-County and All-Conference selection, Makle comes to IUP as a versatile playmaker who could play either side of the ball as well as return kicks and punts.
Edinboro was one of those schools that needed help in plenty of positions and hit the nail on the head in recruiting. The Scots begin with QB Jack Wallman from New York. Wallman, 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, has the ability to stand in the pocket against pressure and sling the deep ball. Over the years he’ll get protection from a big offensive lineman in Michael Fortunato. At 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, Fortunato brings size, speed and durability to the Scots’ offensive line.
Seton Hill’s recruiting class begins and ends with LB Leon Flournoy. Flournoy was rated in the top 100 players in the state of Maryland. At 6-foot-1, 190 poinds, Flournoy brings great speed and vision as a linebacker. Though his size isn’t ideal, Flournoy’s hitting abilities make up for it. On offense, the Griffins add OL Cameron Knapp. Knapp, 6-foot-5, 313 pounds, was a first-team All-Golden League selection. His size has coaches buzzing at Seton Hill.
Clarion’s recruiting class is headline by a transfer from a local D1 university. The Golden Eagles signed Jacob Craig, a graduate transfer from Pitt, to key a defense that lost its heart and soul to the NFL. Craig should provide an immediate impact for the Golden Eagles. In the freshmen ranks, Clarion added a back with great top-end speed to go with the versatility of its current backfield. Jerome Turner ran for 1,083 yards (10.2 YPC) and 22 TDs for Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic last season, earning first-team All-Conference. Turner brings great breakaway speed combined with excellent vision to a team that loves to run the ball.
Photo Credit: Slippery Rock Athletics