COLUMN: Washburn football signs impressive class

Josh Rouse

Each year, National Signing Day in college football marks the next step in each football program’s future as players across the country sign with their respective universities.

At Washburn University, that step was delayed a day because of snow and ice, but it is nevertheless a step. Head coach Craig Schurig announced that 29 players signed national letters of intent to play football at Washburn next year, the largest class Schurig has had in his eight-year career.

There are many noticeable features about this class, the first being its depth. The Ichabods signed two quarterbacks (three if you include Salina Central safety Shay Wooten, who played both sides of the ball in high school), four receivers and six players who played running back in high school, as well as a barrage of offensive and defensive linemen, a versatile kicker who also punts, a tight end and five linebackers. The second noticeable feature is that a majority of the recruits (19 in total) are Kansas products, many of whom are from within a 15 minute drive of campus (five are from Topeka, three are from Silver Lake).

What stands out the most, however, is the size of the recruits coming in. The biggest recruit, offensive lineman Montae Jones, tips the scales at 325 pounds and stands 6’4″. Jones, a St. Louis, Mo., native, was the No. 12 overall prospect in Missouri. Junction City product Jordon McCallister adds another 302 pounds with his 6’3″ frame, adding that much more girth to the offensive line. Other offensive line recruits weigh in at 295, 285, 276 and 265. Potentially, the starting offensive line next season could consist of three players in excess of 300 pounds. Jacob Kottman, a 6’4″, 240 pound tight end from Seaman High School in Topeka, will potentially be the biggest tight end on roster next season with Cameron Knox’s (263 pounds) departure. Even at quarterback, Washburn has size. Braden Gallentine, a Junction City product, is 6’1 and weighs in at 250 pounds, 45 pounds more than any other quarterback on roster.

So, what can we expect from Washburn football in 2011? Expect a team with the best of both worlds, speed and power. Expect plenty of big rushes by running backs Justin Cooper, Vershon Moore and perhaps even redshirt freshman running back Darrell Jobe, who rushed for 29 touchdowns and more than 2,500 yards as a senior at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo. Finally, expect a lot of new faces in the starting line up as 20 seniors graduated this year.