Despite a late start, new Hampton University coach Connell Maynor aimed high with his first recruiting class. He didn't get everything he wanted, but he set a standard and landed a balanced class on National Signing Day.
"We're trying to compete against the Virginias and the Clemsons and the (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools," Maynor said Wednesday afternoon. "That's who we want to compete against. We want athletes that are considering those schools because we want to win, not only in the MEAC, but we want to win in the playoffs and win a national championship. In order to compete at the highest level, you need the best players."
Maynor and the Pirates' staff signed an 11-man class that he said was in line with what he wanted, in terms of both size and position.
Among the notable signees are Jerrell Antoine, a 6-2 quarterback from Orlando, Fla., who threw for 3,305 yards and 30 touchdowns, and accounted for more than 4,000 yards of offense last season; Eric Carter Jr., a bruising 5-10, 215-pound running back from Fayetteville, N.C., who rushed for 2,605 yards and 32 touchdowns last season; Jonathan Black, a 6-2, 295-pound junior college defensive tackle from Scottsdale (Ariz.) CC.
The Pirates also helped their speed with local Denbigh High product Darius Banks, a 5-10, 165-pound receiver who caught 45 passes for 656 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
"We think we've got some guys that can play and can come in and help us get back on the track to winning championships," Maynor said.
Maynor mentioned that the Pirates lost one of their recruiting targets to Syracuse, which swooped in late and wowed him with an official visit that included the Orange-Duke basketball epic at the Carrier Dome.
"We don't mind losing kids to Virginia and Syracuse and Clemson and schools of that nature," Maynor said. "Those are the kids we're going after — bonafide players and difference makers."
Maynor said that he won't be fully informed about the Pirates' strengths and weaknesses until after spring football. He wants to keep a few scholarships open, in the event the staff needs to recruit junior college help, or an FBS transfer becomes available.
"I think the coaches and players understood that we just got here in January and it was a late start for us," said Maynor, who was hired Dec. 17 and didn't have his full staff assembled until early January. "We came on a lot of guys late, but that's because we got here late. You've got to communicate with people and be honest with them and let them know what situation you're in.
"We see guys that we like and we want, so we're coming after you. We know we're late in the game, but we just got here and we're working 12-hour days watching film and want the best of the best. Coaches understood that there's change and we just got here, and we were able to get on those guys. I think it went very well, considering the short notice and us just getting here and having only a couple of weeks to get after it."
Fairbank can be reached by phone at 757-247-4637.
Jerrell Antoine, QB, 6-2, 170, Orlando, Fla./Oak Ridge HS.
Darius Banks, WR, 5-10, 165, Newport News/Denbigh HS.
Eric Carter Jr., RB, 5-10, 215, Fayetteville, N.C./Britt HS.
Chaka Diarrassouba, LB, 6-2, 240, Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King HS.
Hayden Gregory, LB, 6-1, 226, Nashville, Tenn./Pearl-Cohn HS.
Joshua Harlan, FB/LB, 6-0, 195, Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley HS.
Keito Jordon, DE, 6-4, 228, Columbia, S.C./Ridge View HS.
Owen Obasuyi, DE, 6-5, 252, Virginia Beach, Va./Landstown HS.
Jonathan Black, DT, 6-5, 295, Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale CC.
Andre Fils, DB, 5-11, 172, Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale CC.
Michael Young, C, 6-1, 290, Brooklyn, N.Y./ASA Junior College.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun