Since becoming the Head Coach of Florida Atlantic football, Tom Herman has been diligent in keeping players committed to the program.
The Owls brought in 16 players during the early signing period, and would later add a group of transfers from both group of five and power five programs. On Wednesday they capped off efforts with a coveted prospect that was sought after by a number of power five schools.
Accordingly, after concluding National Signing Day at the Schmidt Family Complex, he is excited with the 25 players he has in the 2023 Class.
And FAU is off to a good start by industry standards as they approach their first season in the American Athletic Conference. According to On3 and 247 Sports regarding overall class score, they rank sixth and seventh out of the 13 teams in the league, respectively. Interestingly enough, they trail only legacy American programs while exceeding all C-USA teams entering the American this year except for UTSA.
"A pretty impressive, balanced haul for the Owls and one that should allow FAU to be competitive sooner rather than later in the American," 247 Sports' Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins said. "Herman and his new-look staff did an excellent job of keeping everyone committed and getting a bulk of the group across the finish line."
Herman took a heavy approach on recruiting at high school level with 17 of the 25 players are coming from its ranks and seven joining the team via the transfer portal. Offensive lineman Brayden Ramey will "grayshirt" for a less than typical period of time before joining the program in June.
Including Ramey, the class includes an astounding group of six offensive linemen who will provide a major boost in depth following the departure of seniors after the conclusion of the 2022 campaign. Overall, that unit was solid in protecting the quarterback while limiting sacks and conceding just 14 (1.17 per game, tied for 19th in the country) throughout last season. However, it is safe to assume that the incoming group will enhance that performance.
"We're gonna need these guys to grow up pretty quick because we need them here in a hurry because we're just so thin. From a pure numbers standpoint, we only had eight or nine guys on scholarship when you normally would have carried about 16 or 17 on scholarships, so we were only about half capacity at that position," Herman said. "These guys were thrilled to death that we got all of them and they all know that they've got to be ready to come in and play."
"We have some experienced guys coming to create competition for some of the returning guys. We're going to be bigger overall with more size," said offensive line coach Ed Warinner.
Of those offensive linemen, one of them is a highly coveted prospect in Chrisdasson Saint-Jean, who chose to remain silent until National Signing Day. The three-star recruit from Orlando originally committed to West Virginia last November before making the huge decision to switch to FAU this week.
"He is a puppy dog/teddy bear off the field, and something clicks when those lights come on. He snaps that helmet on and he is a mean, nasty dude," Herman said. "The thing that stood out to me most was just his attitude play in and play out on the field. It was really impressive."
"Chrisdasson Saint-Jean might be one of the biggest recruiting wins for the Owls over the past decade. Heís got NFL size and is someone that Power Five programs legitimately wanted. Not only was he at one point committed to West Virginia, but we saw both Penn State and Purdue trip him and Colorado fighting to get him on campus," Ivins said.
"Heís probably going to need two or three years before heís ready to go, but FAU has never really signed a corner protector out of high school with his upside. Toss in Jordan Church, who started games at the Power Five factory that is IMG Academy, and what a haul for Ed Warinner, especially when you add veteran Wallace Unamba to the equation."
Even as offensive linemen Woody Jean, Wallace Unamba, and Jordan Church are getting a head start by being on campus already to adapt themselves into the program, Herman said the competition will be tough as there are no guaranteed starter spots.
"I told everybody at every position 'I don't care how many games you played, how many games you started, how many tackles you made, or how many catches you have; we don't have starters right now.' We have guys that are on a daily basis trying now for our football team and trying to win that job," Herman said. "You can't tell a whole lot about offensive lineman without pads and helmets, so spring ball will be a big test for these guys."
Offensive line isn't the only position the Owls did well at, as two players came to Ivins' mind in the standout category: running back Gemari Sands and defensive back Fabian Scott.
"They are straight-up steals. Sands has the size/speed combo you look for and doesnít have a ton of mileage on the tires," Ivins said. "Scott is a long strider with ball skills that should be able to play centerfield on Saturdays."
Herman said the sky's the limit for him to maximize the talent he has on the roster alongside the incoming class heading into the American for the 2023 season starting in September.
"These guys are bought in for now. It's only going to get harder, but that's okay. They know what's coming down the pipe," Herman said. "All of them are just really hungry and they just want to win and they've given us their trust and we're hoping not to let them down."
While the scholarship class is at the traditional capacity (25) for a typical cycle, the Owls are expected to continue to court potential signal callers after the upcoming Spring season concludes.
Currently it contains six offensive linemen, five secondary members, two defensive linemen, two linebackers, three running backs, two receivers, two tight ends, two quarterbacks, and a punter.
The full listing by signee type is below.
High School Commits
Evans OL Chrisdasson Saint-Jean
GA Military Aca OL Kiemar Brown-Richardson
IMG Academy OL Jordan Church
McEachern OL Ovie Dubre
Kilgore OL Wallace Unamba
Gulliver Prep DB Antonio Smith
Jones DB Chris Tooley
Roswell TE Zeke Moore
Venice TE Fin Jones
St. Thomas Aquinas RB Xavier Terrell
Aquinas RB Gemari Sands
Jones WR Jabari Smith
Dillard WR AJ Jenkins
Seminole QB Luke Rucker
Clearwater OLB Curtis Roberts
Booker T Washington Safety Fabian Scott
NMMA CB Darius McClendon
June "Grayshirt" Enrollee
Trinity OL Brayden Ramey
CMU QB Daniel Richardson
Purdue RB Kobe Lewis
WVU LB Ja'Corey Hammett
TX State DB Jarron Morris
Prokick Punter Nick Salmon
AZ OL Woody Jean
Indiana DL Richard Thomas