Less than a month later, the former Connecticut offensive coordinator announced the Tigers' 15-man class. Thirteen of Towson's signees are from Maryland.
Ambrose spoke with Recruiting Report this week about the Tigers' class.
What’s the first thing you did with regard to recruiting once you were hired?
The first thing I did with regard to recruiting; me and the staff that we had at the time, basically [offensive line coach] John Donatelli and [wide receivers coach] Guilian Gary, we watched film on every kid that we had here. And we watched film on every kid that we were thinking about recruiting. And we watched film on every kid that [the previous staff] had already recruited. We did that in three days. After evaluating all the areas, we figured out what we had, what we needed and what we could get.
Arnold Farmer and Chuck Johnson from Poly were your first two recruits. In landing two Baltimore guys immediately, were they statement recruits?
No. I mean I wasn’t trying to make a statement. I recruited Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia when I was at Connecticut. So I had knowledge of a bunch of guys still available, guys who knew me personally [like Farmer and Johnson]. But we do have a philosophy that we’re going to take care of the state of Maryland before we go outside the state.
Both Farmer and Johnson mentioned you recruited them at UConn and said you’d help them find another school if UConn didn’t offer. Is that something you usually do with kids you recruit?
Since I’ve been gone from here [as an assistant], I tried to do my best to take care of the kids in the state of Maryland. If I couldn’t take them at Connecticut, I’d try to find places where they could do well and continue their careers, whether it be at the IAA level or down to Division III. It’s just kind of the way I do it.
Former Towson coach Gordy Combs had already landed several oral commitments before you were hired. Did you have to go back and reevaluate each recruit and then decide whether or not to honor those scholarship offers?
Well we evaluated every one of those kids and figured out how good they were, or how good we thought their potential was and if we thought we could get potentially [better players] in that short period of time. There were certain kids we felt completely solid on, and other kids we didn’t feel completely solid on. We backed off on a couple. It was difficult. It was very difficult.
Tom Chroniger was a guy who had a DI offer to play quarterback (Eastern Michigan) and other DI interest as a safety. What was your approach in recruiting him to Towson?
Well I’ve known him since he was a young buck. He was a starter at DeMatha since he was a sophomore. He’s a great football player. I was recruiting him when I was at Connecticut. The Eastern Michigan thing was unsettled, and I was right back in his boat as soon as [I got the Towson job].
Did you recruit him as a quarterback or a safety?
I recruited him as a quarterback, and if that doesn’t work out he could be something else. [My philosophy is to] go recruit the best football players you can find, and not exactly [to a specific position]. There are a whole bunch of guys on that list [of signees] that can play another spot. Tommy’s a great quarterback and a great leader. He can compete at the quarterback position. And if he doesn’t make it, he can play [another position]. He’s a great leader and person that will represent the program the right way. Your program automatically is better with kids like that.
My goal would be to not have them compete [for the starting quarterback job]. My goal would be to let them get a year stronger, smarter and faster and transition into their freshman year of college. If, worst-case scenario, they’re head and shoulders better than the kids we have, then we’ll [play one of them]. But we’ll try not to do that.
Will any of these recruits be expected to contribute as true freshmen?
I’m going to try to not play any true freshmen. There are guys that have the talent [to play immediately]. The farther away from the ball, the better the opportunity is to play at a younger age, because the physical beating you take away from the trenches is less. But the goal will be to redshirt all these kids.
Thirteen out of Towson’s 15 signees are from Maryland. Is that a trend that will continue with you as head coach?
You go where the players are. I’m not going to say it’s going to be that heavy every year, but we’re going to take care of the state before anything else.
All things considered, with the lack of time you had to put together the class, are you pretty satisfied?
Oh yeah. Skeleton crew, three weeks to get it done and having to hire some guys while I was doing it. Yeah, my staff did a hell of a job.
Credit: Baltimore Sun photo of Rob Ambrose by Karl Merton Ferron / Jan. 6, 2009