Charlie Partridge came into his new post as the Owl’s head coach with one goal - to “blanket” the state of Florida.
And that is just what he did.
Since being hired in December, Coach Partridge has put together a class of 24 recruits which could be considered the best class FAU has ever had.
FAU also welcomed four players who joined the squad in January and nine who maintained higher than a 3.0 G.P.A., including one with a 4.5 G.P.A. The team will add 12 members, all who have played in an all-star game; two who have won a state title and 10 who have family members that have played in college and or professionally.
“I really think it was the staff, and their ability to relate to people and they did an amazing job" Partridge said. "The guys just did an amazing job of putting together a plan and I couldn't be prouder of those guys.”
Contrary to the Pelini era that traveled across the country in search of junior college athletes, Partridge decided to stay local and take what south Florida had to offer.
And what they had to offer was the meat of the Owls recruiting class, with eight of Partridge’s late 16 grabs coming from Palm Beach, Broward, or Miami-Dade County.
Partridge pulled highly touted recruits such as Trey Rodriguez, Marquese Dudley-Gordon, and Kris Harris, who all held offers from various schools across the country from conferences including the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, and ACC.
“I am proud of what we put together here. If you look at the film we have a lot of exciting players here and kids that we got in this class, that schools all over the country congratulated us on signing these kids", remarked Partridge.
The transition from one coaching staff to another would be hard to recognize, by the way Partridge came in and did not miss a beat. Knowing that he wanted to make FAU a house hold name in the recruiting world, he sent his coaches across Florida making sure the kids already committed stayed, while finding and flipping new talent.
Partridge showed the same affinity for the ground game with this class as he had in Wisconsin and Arkansas, grabbing three impressive running backs in: Trey Rodriguez, Gregory Howell, and Henry Bussey.
The Owl’s highest rated recruit per 247 is Trey Rodriguez, an all-purpose back from Mainland high school in Daytona Beach Florida, who decided to stay close to home to be close and involved with his family. Although an injury to Mainland’s quarterback left Rodriguez in the pocket he was still able to have a second 1300 yard season and find the end zone 13 times.
Partridge put a huge emphasis on recruiting south of the I-4 interstate, where 15 of the class members hail from, and really stayed focused on south Florida.
“I think they [south Florida coaches] know that this is going to be a huge priority", Partridge said. "There is going to be a huge emphasis on building a relationship with these coaches and these players.”
On the defensive side of class, safety Marquese Dudley-Gordon was a great addition to the prolific Owls' secondary, which led Conference USA in almost every statistical category. Dudley-Gordon has natural field presence and can tackle in the open field like it is second nature. With Damian Parms graduating, Dudley-Gordon could step into an early play making role.
Overall, FAU grabbed signatures from four offensive linemen, three running backs, four defensive backs, three defensive linemen, two linebackers, a pair of tight ends, and a quarterback.
FAU finished with the 7th best recruiting class in C-USA, which is better than last year when the Owls were ranked 10th in the Sun Belt conference. Overall, they ended up at 95th nationally.
DB Jake Stoshak (6’0” 175) University Christian- Stoshak was named to the Florida class 2A all-state team. He also finished the season tied nationally for the second most interceptions returned for touchdowns. Stoshak is the younger brother of FAU receiver Jenson Stoshak.
OL Reginald Bain (6’4” 270) Miami Central- Bain enrolled into FAU in January after helping the Rockets win the class 6A state title. Bain who committed last June is expected to play guard at the next level.
OL Bryers Hickman (6’5” 255) Gainseville- Hickman was another summer commit that gained particular interest due to his run-blocking ability. Although a little light for a collegiate interior linemen a summer in the weight room should put Hickman in fighting shape.
OL Joe Gold (6’3” 290) South Ft. Myers- Gold brings some much-needed size to the Owl’s offensive line. Being a 290 pound freshman makes him the second heaviest of the 2014 class, and years in a run heavy offense has made Gold an aggressive run-blocker.
QB Jason Driskel (6’2” 215) Hagerty- FAU’s only QB commit going into signing day, is an early enrollee and is working with the Owls now. Driskel finished the 2013 season with 1160 yards through the air and 13 touchdowns. Driskel is the brother of University of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel.
DE/TE Hunter Snyder (6’6” 221) East Lake- Snyder is a hybrid type player with a lot of raw talent. Playing mostly defense Snyder lacks the weight of a college defensive lineman and doesn’t have much offensive experience to become an immediate threat at tight end, though despite his weight he finished his 2013 campaign with 53 tackles and 4 sacks.
LB Kris Harris (6’0” 220) Godby- A three-star prospect by 247 and Rivals, Harris was a force on Godby’s defense that helped win the 2012 Class 5A state title. Harris ended 2013 with 48 tackles 5 sacks and 2 pass deflections. Harris held multiple offers including Ole Miss and Rose Bowl champions Michigan State.
DB Andrew Soroh (6’2” 190) American- Soroh originally committed to FIU in July, though flipped his commitment after his head coach Corey Bell joined Coach Partridge’s staff as assistant defensive back coach.
DB Marquese Dudley-Gordon (6’1” 180) Cypress Bay- A highly touted three-star recruit, who chose FAU over Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Arkansas. Dudley-Gordon has great open-field tackling ability and field awareness; he earned an 8A all-state honorable mention.
RB Trey Rodriguez (5’10” 175) Mainland- One of the Charlie Partridge steals of the year, Rodriguez committed to FAU after rushing for 1,374 yards and 13 touchdowns despite playing quarterback through the final five games of the season and playoffs. Rodriguez was the no. 3 ranked player in the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida super 60. Rodriguez held offers from Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Georgia Tech.
DB Raekwon Williams (5’10” 170) First Coast- Williams (pictured) was the first of the flood of recruits brought in by Charlie Partridge. Williams plays excellent man coverage, and isn’t scared to throw his body into a hit. Williams had offers from Cincinnati and Purdue.
LB Matt Solt (6’2” 210) Gainseville- Solt’s large stature is a nice addition to the Owl’s linebacker corps with the departure of senior Adarius Glanton. As the Hurricanes main run stopper, Solt is fearless at the line of scrimmage, though despite the physicality of his play, Solt is not scared to drop into coverage and make a play while the ball is in the air. Solt had interest from Iowa State and Wake Forest.
RB Gregory Howell (6’1” 205) Coral Gables- A power back, Howell resembles current Owl Jay Warren’s big body and down hill running style. Howell aided the Cavaliers to their first playoff victory in over 20 years. Howell led all of 8A in rushing, though finished third in Miami-Dade County behind Miami Central’s Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook. Howell chose FAU over Minnesota and Western Kentucky.
OL Siffo Pierre (6’4” 320) Taravella- Pierre is a big bodied guard with a ton of potential. Pierre made the 8A all-state team, and was ranked no. 49 best player in Broward county.
TE Jacob Wilson (6’4” 230) Chipley- Wilson is a big athletic tight end, which the Owls are going to be needing after losing Nexon Dorvillus. Not highly scouted, Wilson has the athleticism for the next level and will be interesting to watch develop.
RB Henry Bussey (5’10” 170) Hialeah- Bussey originally committed to FIU, and flipped after a Roger Harriot visit. Bussey is an athlete, despite playing running back in high school he is projected to play a more slot receiver role in college. Bussey held quite a few offers most notably Wake Forest and University of Louisiana-Lafeyette.
DL Josh Kendall (6’3” 275) Lehigh Senior- Kendall knows how to work his hands and shed blocks, a huge physical specimen will work well with the Owls defense. Kendall tallied 48 tackles and 2 sacks in 2013, and racked in offers from Wake Forest, Marshall, and FIU.
DT Ray Ellis (6’3” 245) Holy Spirit (NJ)- The Owl’s only out of state interest, Ellis was recruited by FAU’s new D-Line coach Roc Bellatini while he was at Villanova and decided to continue recruiting when he got to FAU. Ellis ended his senior year with 5 sacks and helped his team to 2 New Jersey state titles. Ellis also had interest from MAC champions Bowling Green and Delaware.
TE Nate Terry (6’5” 200) South Dade- Terry played mostly like wide receiver in high school though with his height and pass catching ability he is projected to make the move to a more permanent tight end role after gaining a little weight in the off-season. Terry aided the Bucs to the class 8A state championship.
LB Nicholas Richardson (6’4” 210) Carol City- Richardson transferred to Carol City from St. Thomas Aquinas in the summer and made the Miami Herald’s pre-summer top 50. They describe him as a hard-hitting, flying around the ball type of player.
DL Devin Santana (6’4” 215) Sickles- Santana did not see much interest at the FBS level though has the size to make an impact on the field.
WR Kamrin Solomon (6’0” 170) Mandarin- Solomon is enrolled in FAU now after grayshirting a season to build his body and prepare himself for the next level.
WR Bobby Mitchell (6’2” 170) St. Augustine- Mitchell is also currently enrolled in FAU as well after grayshirting a season to prepare for the next level. Mitchell caught for 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns his senior season.
K Landon Scheer (5'8" 180) First Academy- Scheer has a big leg and it is clear why the Owls want him, in 2013 he went 9-13 in field goals with a long of 44. Scheer also has some power when it comes to kick off, hitting 65 touch backs on 90 attempts.
Florida Atlantic will begin spring practice on Wednesday, March 12 and will conclude the season with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m. at FAU Stadium. The Owls will open the 2014 season on Saturday, Aug. 30 in Lincoln, Neb. versus the University of Nebraska.