Idaho football coach Paul Petrino welcomed 10 junior college players into the fold Wednesday during the 2014 midyear signing period, which allows schools to sign JUCO players who intend to enroll in time for spring football.
Among those 10 JUCO signings were four defensive backs, three offensive linemen, two defensive linemen and one running back.
For Petrino, the letters that rolled through the fax machine will shore up immediate needs for Vandals.
“Yeah, that’d be safe to say. We felt like we wanted to get faster at defensive back,” Petrino said, “(and) get some guys that could both play (man-to-man defense) and were good tacklers. I think we did that.”
The Vandals added four defensive backs who will come in with two years of eligibility to play. Petrino envisions Willie Fletcher (Cerritos College), a former Cal commit, and Isaiah Taylor (Sacramento City College) as “pure cover” cornerbacks. Kendrick Trotter (Delta College) and D.J. Hampton (Mesa College) will likely be safeties or nickel-package cornerbacks.
All four will have a chance to start right away for a Vandals defense that allowed opponents to pass for an average of 9.45 yards per attempt last season. For an added bonus, all are at least 5-foot-10. Fletcher is 6-3.
“Definitely that is a bonus, but speed is probably the first thing,” Petrino said. “To get some height back there is a big plus.”
The largest commit may be Hampton’s teammate at Mesa College, Andrew Erbes. The 324-pound interior offensive lineman chose Idaho over Memphis and Texas State and will have four years to play three. He should be an immediate contender to replace the graduated Mike Marboe at center, although has the ability to play guard.
“He’s not going to get pushed around, definitely has a nasty streak to him,” Petrino said. “You see him getting after people all the time and finishing them. That was something really good to get.”
Petrino will look to add at least one and at most two more JUCO signings on national letter of intent day in February.
He wants to round out his 2015 signing class with 13 more players, most of whom will be from the high school ranks. Idaho will also welcome three grayshirting players into the program in January, including former Coeur d’Alene High School quarterback Gunnar Amos.
Amos may be Idaho’s only incoming quarterback.
“That’s still up in the air whether we’ll take another guy or not (at quarterback),” Petrino said.
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