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We built it and they came...

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We built it and they came...

Not too bad for the youngsters.

National notoriety has recruits flocking to Owls
An extended playoff run, coupled with the move to Division I-A, has transformed the Owls into a more attractive option.
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Before the 2003 football season, Florida Atlantic was not well-known around the country. The Owls, who were entering their third year of Division I-AA competition, were known mostly in Florida, with out-of-state recruits a rarity.

Fast-forward five months and FAU's name has gotten around. The Owls went on a 10-game winning streak and reached the I-AA semifinals. The loss to Colgate dropped the Owls to 11-3 and a fourth-place national finish.

''We're three weeks behind from a physical and technical standpoint, but we're five years ahead from a psychological standpoint,'' Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger said. ``[The accomplishments in 2003] have changed the psychology of FAU football nationwide, if not worldwide. We're no longer FAU, the neophyte or the newborn. We're strapping young men.''


The notoriety has translated into a heightened interest, resulting in tapes and letters from potential recruits across North America. Ten days before signing day, a sampling of the tapes included one from Staten Island, N.Y., and another from Canada.

''I can't tell you the number [of tapes], except that it's probably three times as many as we've gotten in years past,'' Schnellenberger said.

The playoff run accompanied another watershed moment for the program – joining the Sun Belt Conference.

FAU, which will leave the Atlantic Sun, also declared its intention of playing Division I-A football, a process that will take two years before full membership is granted.

Now, when Schnellenberger or one of his assistants calls or visits a potential recruit, they no long have to introduce the program.


''When you couple what our future plans are, and you look at our track record, that combination is quite thrilling and exciting,'' Schnellenberger said.

``It's inviting for the youngsters to come in and say `God, I can come in and be part of this brand-new program. God, I can be part of taking this football program to a conference winner and align ourselves to be in position to be national champions by the time we leave here.''

As part of the move to I-A, the Owls will receive an additional 12 scholarships, increasing the total to 25. Schnellenberger anticipates the school will sign the full allotment.

With 2004 season as the final year of eligibility for the original players, signing an impact class is vital if the program is to continue without a hiccup.

''There's almost as much [importance] as there was to get the first class and the second class,'' Schnellenberger said.

``Now, those guys are graduating [next year], so we have to replace them.''

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We built it and they came...

This is a very important recruiting class and I believe
it will be the most diverse one as well. We can afford
to max-out the scholarships sense they will be
a lot of senior on the team this year. I can't wait
for football to start again. Signing day only 4-day away.
Anyone going to the Pot Luck Gathering?
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