Eastern Washington University’s recruiting strategy couldn’t accurately be described as get-rich-quick.
After finishing 4-7 last season, despite a roster full of seniors, get-middle-class-quick is more like it.
Second-year coach Mike Kramer and his staff pursued more junior college talent this offseason than in the past as part of an effort to add experience to what Kramer called a “frightfully” inexperienced team.
Nine of the 23 players Eastern had signed by Wednesday - national letter-of-intent day - are from junior colleges, including four wide receivers and four defensive backs.
Heading the juco class is Antwan Miller, who last season caught 62 passes for 880 yards and eight touchdowns at Walla Walla Community College. Miller had signed with the University of Idaho out of Timberline (Wash.) High in 1992.
Defensively, Kramer expects transfers Rod Hall, Malcolm Scott and Deprice Kelly to help immediately in the backfield. “They really catch your eye when you watch them on video,” he said.
Freshman Jeff Pilkington, a three-year starter at Mead High, and transfer Andre Wood are among those who will also compete for playing time at DB.
“What we needed was some immediate help in our defensive backfield and at wide receiver,” Kramer said. “I think we’ve really addressed that. Three of our five available coaches were recruiting in the junior college ranks for the most part, and they were all pretty darn successful.”
The Eagles’ high school recruiting also focused on defense, the only exception being at tight end. All-Big Sky tight end Jesse Hardt returns for his senior season, but second tight end Steve Mattson will likely shift to the defensive line, where the Eagles lost all four starters.
That leaves Hardt and senior Tim Hunsaker as the only tight ends with extensive Big Sky Conference experience. The Eagles signed three players with tight end potential: Adam Kellar, a 6-foot5, 240-pound freshman from Kamiak (Wash.) High, and the Knaevelsrud twins.
Lance and Tyson Knaevelsrud were All-Kingco League selections at Sammamish High last season, the former as a defensive lineman, the latter at tight end.
Kramer admits the disappointment of last season has hurt recruiting. “Boise killed us,” he said, referring to the Boise State Broncos, who advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA title game.
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