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Idaho adds 10 JUCO players during mid-year signing period

Idaho football coach Paul Petrino announced the signing of 10 junior college football players during the mid-year National letter-of-intent day today. 

The class includes four defensive backs, three offensive linemen, two defensive linemen and a running back. 

Petrino expects many of them to contribute immediately. 

Read on for details and comments from Petrino. 

It's no secret that Idaho was going to attack the secondary hard in this recruiting class, and for good reason. Idaho ranked dead-last in the nation in yards-per-pass-attempt allowed at 9.45. That means, on average, every time the quarterback threw the ball it resulted in just about a first down. 

Not good. 

So here are the guys Petrino brought in to help shore that up. 

Kendrick Trotter, DB, 5-11 178, San Joaquin Delta College, Patterson, Calif. 

     -  Trotter spent two years at Humboldt State, including a redshirt season, before transferring to Delta College. He will come in as a safety or nickel cornerback. 

Willie Fletcher, DB, 6-3 188, Cerritos College, Orange, Calif. 

     - Fletcher enrolled at Cal out of high school but never saw the field for the Bears. He will play cornerback at Idaho. "He's got long arms, big hands, really good at getting up and playing press, get his hands on you. Those are the guys that are really hard to beat in press, he’s a good jam corner, he’s a really good tackler."

Isaiah Taylor, DB, 6-0 186, Sacramento City College, Sacramento, Calif. 

    -  Petrino describes Taylor as a pure cover corner. What he loves about Taylor? Speed. "He ran on Grant’s (4 x 100 meter relay team), that tells you right there. If you can run on their 4x1, you’ve got great speed," Petrino said.

D.J. Hampton, DB, 5-11 191, Mesa College, Glendale, Ariz.

   -  Hampton has experience playing free safety at Mesa College. Petrino will have him play at nickelback and safety at Idaho. 

- - - -

If you're looking for the top impact player outside of the secondary, it just might be this guy. 

Andrew Erbes, Offensive line/Center, 6-2 324, Mesa College, Scottsdale, Ariz. 

      -   Erbes chose Idaho over Memphis and Texas State. He will be able to play offensive guard and center, but with Mike Marboe's departure coaches will likely want to see what he has at center first. "He’s thick and physical. He’s not going to get pushed around, definitely has a nasty streak to him. You see him getting after people all the time and finishing them. That was something really good to get."

- - - - 

The other signees. 

Leonard Hazewood IV, DE, 6-4 240, Sierra College, Lancaster, Calif. 

     - Had no FBS offers coming out of high school. He will add defensive line depth. 

Darius Peterson, Offensive line, 6-6 292, Hutchinson Community College, Salinas, Kans. 

    -  Peterson has a very similar frame to former Idaho OT Jesse Davis. Petrino envisions Peterson competing for a spot at quick tackle. "Darius Peterson is a guy who’s really athletic, he’s a guy who could play quick tackle for us, where we’re losing two guys to graduation. Has great flexibility, can really bed, great pass pro guy and has a little nastiness to him run blocking," Petrino said.

Kevin White, Defensive end, 6-4 260, Monroe College

     -   Idaho coaches traveled all the way to New York to recruit this kid. Like Hazewood IV, he adds defensive line depth. 

Matt Donaldson, Running back, 6-1 207, Fullerton College, Tallahassee, Fla. 

      -  Idaho coaches were hot on Donaldson's trail when he was coming out of high school last season. However, he couldn't qualify until mid-summer. He ended up at Fullerton where they moved him to defensive back. Now at Idaho, he will play running back. He'll have four seasons to play three. "He's got really good hands. When he was younger at Lincoln (HS) he played receiver. He kind reminds you, his running style is like Elijhaa (Penny) and he’ll grow into that." 

Devin Wiltz, Offensive line, 6-7 332, Dean College, New Orleans.

- Wiltz was discovered by Idaho WR coach Charley Molnar. Formerly the head coach at UMass, Molnar still has recruiting connections in the New England area which includes Dean College. Wiltz stands out at pass protection and reminds you of Mason Woods. 

- - - - 

Other Petrino comments

Idaho will welcome three gray shirting freshman into the program this semester. Michael Garner (WR, San Diego), Kaden Ellis (ATH, Salt Lake City) and Gunnar Amos (QB, Coeur D'Alene) will enroll in time for spring football. One will count toward the class of 2015, two will revert back to the class of 2014. 

Petrino said his goal is to add 13 more players to this years' class for a total of 24. Keeping it at 24 will allow him to revert a gray shirting player next season back to the class of 2015. 

He anticipates only one or two of those players being from the JUCO level. 

On adding more JUCO players to this class: "Maybe one (more JUCO player), a tight end. If there is just one special one out there. You always have one category that just says best player and that can be JC or high school. At the very most two. Each year it will be less. Next year it might not even be 10, so each year it will get smaller and smaller," Petrino said.  

On what positions he will recruit: "We want to definitely get two receivers, we’re going to get a running back. We already have a really good fullback commitment, it’s a kid real close to here. We’re going to get two defensive tackles, and there’s a great defensive end out there we’re getting close to getting committed. And then two linebackers."

Petrino said he already has commitments from two high school offensive linemen in the state of Idaho. One is already known to be Couer D'Alene's Zion Dixon. 

On potentially adding a quarterback to this class: "We could ... Gunnar Amos is a quarterback, he’s starting here in January. (He'll) go into the freshman class ... That’s still up in the air whether we’ll take another guy or not (at quarterback)."

On why recruiting heated up so quickly after the season ending: "You talk to them every week. You talk to them on the phone every week. And then sometimes you get into the home and you do a good job with the parents. A lot of times the kids know they want to commit and they know they like you and they’re just waiting until maybe mom and dad just want to wait until they can tell you in person. Sometimes it just heats up when they see you in person."

National letter-of-intent day is Feb. 4, 2015. 



Sean Kramer
Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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