Owls Sign 24 in 2011 Class
It wasn’t a football game, but the atmosphere certainly felt like it Wednesday afternoon when Florida Atlantic Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger stood in front of the fans and media gathered for the revealing of the school’s 2011 signing class.
Twenty-four high school athletes from fifteen different counties across the state of Florida signed with the Owls on National Signing Day - the first day a prospect could official sign a letter of intent with a school. The group marked the biggest haul of players the program had brought in since 2009.
“We decided that we wanted to refresh our squad from stem to stern,” Schnellenberger said. “We brought in as many on offense as we did on defense and some special teams.”
The Owls looked to add offensive lineman, linebackers and wide receivers during this year’s recruiting haul, and they did just that with the class they signed.
“We went out with certain aspirations of what we wanted to fill. We wanted good numbers in the offensive line and we got that early,” Recruiting Coordinator Kurt Van Valkenburgh said.
Five different offensive lineman inked with the Owls, and marked the biggest group in a class that is being compared to one of the program's best ever.
“I think this right up there as one of the best classes that we have brought in,” Van Valkenburgh added. "It was a very very good class with talent. They all have height."
Last year, FAU was able to sign two prospects outside of the Sunshine state drawing lots of attention, but this year all the talent came from home. The class’s two headliners, linebacker Conard Johnson and quarterback Colton Kane, both of whom are rated as three-star prospects by Rivals.com, hail from the home state and highlight how the coaching staff has been able to recruit all throughout Florida and against top schools.
Kane, the lone quarterback in the class, comes all the way from the Panhandle's Navarre High School. Navarre was also home to former Owl Jeff Van Camp.
Johnson on the other hand is a local product of Pompano Beach Ely High School, a short drive from FAU’s Boca Raton campus. The linebacker selected the Owls over offers from Connecticut, Tulsa, Memphis and Eastern Michigan. One of the main reasons the coaches were able to draw in Johnson and three other linebackers was the team’s decision to switch to a 3-4 defense scheme this coming fall.
“We wanted four linebackers, and we got four linebackers. The four that we got, were the top bunch we really wanted, so we’re excited about them,” Van Valkenburgh said.
Two of those linebackers were teammates Andrae Kirk and Diondre Lewis who won a Florida 6A State Championship at Miami Central High School. The duo picked up interest late from Southern California, and the Owls coaching staff had to fend off competitors; something that was a first for the coaching staff.
“We ended up playing a lot more defense in recruiting, because a lot of people came on to these kids as we got going along. Southern Cal came in on a couple of kids and wanted them to come out this last weekend and visit,” Van Valkenburgh said.
However, FAU was able to hold on to every prospect that had given a verbal commitment and didn't lose anybody when everything was said and done.
Below is the complete listing of signees for 2011:
Marcelo Bonani K Lake Wales 5’10” 150 - The first place kicker ever to ink with the Owls, Bonani was named to the First-Team All-Polk County offense by Polk Preps after drilling 45 touchbacks and connecting on eight field goals. His brother, Maikon Bonan is the starting place kicker for USF and a product of Lake Wales has well. Bonani choose the Owls over heavy interest late from the Big 12's Nebraska.
Matt Chaney DL Bolles 6’3” 260 - With the ability to play both defensive end and tackle on the line, Chaney was named the position player of the year for the First Coast area after 98 tackles, and eight sacks his senior season. A two-sport athlete, playing football and baseball, Chaney earned second team all academic honors.
Stephen Clark WR Sebastian River 6’3” 180 - Last year FAU was able to sign safety Coretz Ash out of Sebastian River High School, and in this time around they were able to bring in a talented receiver in Clark. The athlete caught 39 passes, for 531 yards and five touchdowns this past season while gaining All-Area honors. A track athlete as well, Clark competes in the 100m, 200m and high jump events, posting a personal record 6’ 2” high jump.
Vincent Davino OL Booker 6’6” 257 - One of five offensive lineman signed to this year’s class, Davino selected the Owls over other offers from Kentucky, Central Florida, Marshall, New Mexico and Appalachian State. The standout blocker also took part in the FACA/REEBOK North/South All-Star Football Classic.
William Dukes WR Dillard 6’4” 185 - Playing in a run-favored Wing-T offense while in high school, Dukes was able to make the best of his limited opportunities, racking up 876 yards receiving and eight touchdown catches this season. Dukes also participated in the BCAA All-Star game at Lockhart Stadium, catching an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Robinson Eugene DE North Miami Beach 6’5” 220 - Was named the MVP of the Public vs. Private All-Star High School Football Game after a 50 tackle, 10 sack season. Eugene graduated from the same school as current FAU Owls, Randell Johnson and Nexon Dorvillus.
Mo Farah OL Estero 6’2” 285 - Anchoring an offensive line group that blocked for 2,300 yard passing attack, Farah is regarded as one of the prospects to come out of his high school in years. The lineman started at left tackle the past three seasons, and his talents were good enough to land him in two postseason all-star games.
D.J. Frye-Smith DB American 5’11” 185 - After not gaining a lot of attention early in the recruiting process, Frye-Smith had a breakout performance in the Nike South Florida All-Star Game grabbing two interceptions for the winning Miami Dade County team. Following the outing, the defensive back visited FAU and was offered a scholarship, which he accepted. Frye-Smith had eight interceptions his senior year and also returned a kick for a touchdown.
Javaris Giles FB St. Lucie West Centennial 6’1” 217 - Known as a powerful ball carrier while in high school, Giles accounted for over 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns in his career.
Marcus Hagins LB Vanguard 6’2” 200 - Hagins was named Marion County’s Player of the Year by Ocala.com after leading the county with 148 tackles his senior season. Coming from a basketball family, the linebacker averaged a double-double his junior year on the hardwood, while his sister, Briauna is the starting center at Florida Tech University.
Joe Henry DE Everglades 6’3” 220 - Participated in both the Dade/Broward All Star and the North/South All Star Games, after a season in which he recorded 59 tackles and eight quarterback players. A track athlete that also competed in shot put and discuss.
Hakeem Ishmar TE Pasco 6’3” 195 - A true athlete in high school, Ishmar played wide receiver, tight end and defensive end during his prep career, finding success at every position. Ishmar accounted for 192 yards receiving, 107 yards rushing, 17 tackles and nine sacks during his senior campaign.
Conard Johnson LB Ely 5’11” 220 - Signing with the Owls over a slew of other offers that included Connecticut, Vanderbilt and Tulsa, Johnson had a big senior season notching more than 100 tackles to go along with 10 sacks, eight forced fumbles and one interception. His production earned him First-Team All-Broward County defense honors by the Miami Herald.
Colton Kane QB Navarre 6’3” 190 - A dual-threat passer, Cane threw for 1,622 yards and 15 touchdowns his senior season while rushing for another 946 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. The signal caller led his team to 4A State Semifinals and played in the Subway High School All-Star Football game.
Andrea Kirk LB Miami Central 6’2” 225 - One of two linebackers to ink with FAU from the 6A Miami Central State Champions, Kirk was a second team All-Dade selection after racking up 103 tackles, eight sacks, and an interception.
Diondre Lewis LB Miami Central 6’0” 200 - A teammate of Jackson and fellow state champion, Lewis played on a defense that limited opponents to only 13.4 points per game. The linebacker recorded 83 tackles on the year, with 16 of them coming in one outing against Miami Northwestern.
David Lozandier S North Miami 6’0” 190 - Originally signing with FAU last spring, Lozandier didn’t join the team this past year due to academic problems. With his grades in order, the safety is expected to join the program this fall after a year off from football. An All-Dade selection after he had 92 tackles and six sacks his senior season.
Mike Marasille OL Fort Pierce Central 6’5” 300 - A onetime verbal commitment to Memphis, Marasille or “Big Mike” switched his pledge to the Owls after a visit to campus in early January. Weighing in at well over 300 pounds, the offensive lineman played center and guard his senior year, blocking for a 1,100 yard rusher.
Derrick Moise WR Booker T. Washington 5’10” 170 - A track athlete in high school, Moise finished fourth in the 2A District 15 Track & Field Championships running a 2:10.90 in the 800 m his junior year. On the gridiron the wide-out caught 29 passes for 537 yards and 5 touchdowns his senior season, averaging 18.5 yards per catch and was selected to the Miami Herald’s Second-Team All-Dade offense.
Robby Nasiff OL American Heritage 6’4” 275 - First team All-Palm Beach County selection by the Sun-Sentinel and a All-District Pick by Florida High School Coaches Association, Nasiff had a big senior season, making 40 pancake blocks. The lineman was also rated the 49th best prospect by PBG Game time.
Damian Parms DB Monsignor Pace 6’2” 195 - A standout basketball player know for his highlight-reel worthy dunks, Parms didn’t partake in varsity football until his senior year of school. Despite his limited action in pads, the versatile athlete made his presence felt on the football field forcing three turnovers his senior season, and earning scholarship offers from FIU, Memphis and the Owls. Likewise, Parms had opportunities to play basketball at the next level but selected football.
Stephen Schoewe OL Niceville 6’4” 265 - Starting at tackle his junior and senior years, Schoewe was a staple to Niceville’s offense and helped guide the school to the state championship game in 2009. The blocker was named to the First-Team Daily News All-Area Football Team and signed with FAU over bids from Navy and Troy.
Antonio Washington RB De Soto 6’2” 190 - Ran for 1,798 yards and 17 touchdowns during his injury plagued career while playing baseball and football. Received additional interest from Western Kentucky, Memphis and Kentucky.
Cary White RB Tampa-Sickles 5’9” 210 - Rushing for 1,594 yards and 13 touchdowns his junior season, White was named to the Third-Team Class 4A All-State football team selected by Florida’s prep sports writers. The ball-carrier followed up his performance with 1,128 rushing yards and five touchdowns his senior year, and choose the Owls over offers from conference rivals FIU and Western Kentucky.
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