Lincoln football signs 14 players

The Lincoln Blue Tigers announced 14 new signers for their football program during National Signing Day on Wednesday.

In his second cycle of recruitment as head coach, Jermaine Gales feels he’s been able to be more selective this time.

“The first time was probably half a cycle for me,” Gales said. “We were able to spontaneously bring in some mid-year guys and put together a really good class number-wise. But I think we’ve been able to spot a slightly different kind of talent, and what I mean by that is we’ve been able to be a bit more selective about who we bring from year 1 to year 2.

“We’re not just looking for bodies, we’re looking for people who can help continue this program in the right direction. We try to stack recruitment courses on top of each other.”

Due to ice storms in nearby states, some players were unable to sign their official letters of intent on Wednesday. The Blue Tigers expect the recruit class to grow and finish around 30 players in the coming days.

“We’re expecting about 25 to 30,” Gales said. “…It’ll be over the next two days or so, we’ll have a much clearer list. We’ve got 14 right now, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but we should have around 30.”

The Blue Tigers put renewed emphasis on recruiting recruits from the state of Missouri when they signed six kids from the state on Wednesday.

The six are from across the state, three are from St. Louis – wide receiver Travis Reeves (Timberland High School), defenseman Jeremiah Watson and linebacker Jaydan Trotter (Hazlewood Central High School) – one from Kansas City with offensive lineman Mason Igou from Van Horn High School, one from Springfield with a commitment to run back Dante Sample from Hillcrest High School and even one in town when Lincoln secured linebacker Ethan Garnett from across Lafayette Street at Jefferson City High School.

“I think (Garnett) is a really determined player,” Gales said. “…He’s going to be a good soccer player. We expect him to be able to help us on the defensive side of the ball and on special teams. I’m so excited to get a Jeff City product to help him decide he doesn’t even want to play football 300 yards away.”

The Blue Tigers are also trying to capitalize on the states surrounding Missouri, as the school offers in-state tuition to students from all states that border Missouri.

This was evident in the recruits announced so far, as 13 of the 14 meet that requirement, including the six players in the state.

“It’s good for us to recruit the Arkansas, the Tennessees, even the Iowas and the Nebraskas of the world so we get the best bang for our buck,” Gales said. “Even if it says it’s out of state, to us it’s in state.”

Lincoln signed four offensive linemen and one defensive lineman Wednesday because building from the trenches was a key focus.

With offensive and defensive line positions deteriorating, talent hoarding is paramount for the Blue Tigers.

“Every good football team starts in the trenches,” Gales said. “You can’t have too many of these big guys down there. It’s tough on the body down in the trenches, both defensively and offensively. We wanted to make sure we had a good offensive lineman to build our team around and I think we did a good job of that.”

Another need Lincoln tried to address was the defensive backfield as it signed Ramar Smith (Little Rock, Ark.), Bryant Coley (O’Fallon, Illinois) and Watson.

While more recruits are expected to sign letters of intent to attend Lincoln University in the coming days, Gales and his coaching staff have until April 1 to complete their recruiting class.

“By the time April 1 comes around, we’ll have the full recruiting cycle and have a much clearer picture of what’s going to happen then,” Gales said.

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