It's hard for Rob Ambrose to hide his excitement when discussing Towson's 2011 recruiting class.

The Tigers coach last week announced the signing of a 20-man class, which is highlighted by six Maryland natives and a running back transfer from Boston College.

NamePositionHigh SchoolHometown
Olatungie CokerDELargo H.S.Largo
Jared DangerfieldWRRoyal Palm Beach H.S.Royal Palm Beach, Fla.
Jon DesirDTSt. Anthony's H.S.Westbury, N.Y.
Walter DunstonDBWest Windsor Plainsboro NorthWest Windsor, N.J.
Jarred EvansQBWest Philadelphia CatholicJamaica, N.Y.
Connor FrazierQBDamascus H.S.Gaithersburg
Jalil GordonDBCarroll H.S.South Lake, Texas
Syd HoltDESayreville War Memorial H.S.South Amboy, N.J.
Stefan JanikDECalvert Hall H.S.Sparks
Dreon JohnsonFBMayde Creek H.S.Houston, Texas
Kelly LindenLSBishop Moore Catholic H.S.Windermere, Fla.
Price LittonQBProvidence Day SchoolMatthews, N.C.
Joe McCargoLBOld Mill H.S.Severn
Sean MooneyTEMalvern PrepChester Springs, Pa.
Sterlin Phifer*RBLandstown H.S.Virginia Beach, Va.
Mac SandersWRProvidence Day SchoolCharlotte, N.C.
Jake SchunkeOTWayne Hills H.S.Wayne, N.J.
Tyreek SmithCBWakefield H.S.Raleigh, N.C.
Spencer SuttonOLCalvert Hall H.S.Westminster
Terrance WestRBNorthwestern H.S.Baltimore

* transfer from Boston College

Ambrose spoke with Recruiting Report last week about Towson's 2011 class.

Q&A with Towson coach Rob Ambrose

Last year's class was light on in-state recruits, but that's definitely not the case this year. With six guys from Maryland coming in, how pleased are you with this in-state haul?

"Well this is something we have always done: I don't let my guys recruit anywhere outside the state of Maryland until they have evaluated every in-state student-athlete. I can't promise we're going to take them all, but I made a promise to the Maryland State Coaches Association that we would evaluate every kid, we would be in every school, and we would take care of our state above all else. And we have to. It's a balancing act. There are some previous negative connotations of our football team in the last 15 years. Since we've been Division I, we've been scholarship, non-scholarship, need-based aid, and we haven't really kept a strong foundation from which to work. That's negatively affected our perception. So we have to find the kid who wants to be here, while doing a thorough evaluation of everyone who is in the state."

The first name that jumped out to me was Terrance West, the running back from Northwestern who has been off the radar for the past couple years. How did that recruitment materialize?

"Well, we knew where he was. We were checking out the prep school (Fork Union Military Academy), too. I know he had a good career there, and had a storied history here. And when there was interest by him, there was certainly interest by us in trying to find a way to keep the local guy. Getting him to come back home is very exciting."

Will he factor in to the running back competition?

"He's certainly going to compete for the position. He's a little bit older, a little bit stronger, and a little bit wiser. So it's possible [that he'll be a factor] despite the fact that he's really a first-semester freshman right now. It's a possibility he would be in the mix with his skill set. He runs with speed and power, and he has the potential to be the complete back."

Janik and Sutton played big roles for the MIAA A Conference champions. How significant was it to land those two Calvert Hall guys?

"Well, I think [Cardinals coach] Donald Davis does a tremendous job at Calvert Hall. He turned that place around. His won-loss record speaks for itself, and if you ask people in the Towson area, [the Turkey Bowl] means everything. He's clearly done a really good job of bringing [positive] attention to Calvert Hall. His kids are a byproduct of their improvement. [Janik and Sutton] are good players from a good program that play hard, care about football and care about their team. That's certainly a big thing for us. We're just excited that these local guys are staying home."

McCargo from Old Mill is another local guy. What do you like best about him?

"He's a multi-talented, extremely fast kid. He's got a big upside. He hasn't even filled out into his own bones. He is, without a doubt, a guy that I can see becoming a captain in the future. Certain people walk into a room and there is this aura of leadership about them. That is Joe McCargo. ... He is probably one of the five most competitive kids that I've ever met. He's competitive in everything he does. He does it in how he breathes – he's that competitive. Everyone who follows high school football knows that if the kid was 6-4, he would be at any college in America."

A lot of people thought Connor Frazier from Damascus was one of the best quarterbacks in the state this year. Did you think all along that you'd land or him, or did you worry about FBS schools swooping in there?

"He was a highly touted quarterback, comes from a great program, his brother is a tremendous quarterback. He really was a wait and see. Like everyone else, he [wanted to see] how high he could go and how far he could go. We have a strong family feeling with Damascus and Montgomery County football in general, and [with] his family. We've always been there, he's always been there, and as we got to the end, it was just a match. We wanted to do it right."


Phifer comes from Boston College, where he made a contribution. What are your expectations of him?

"He's a guy who has some college experience – some positive college experience – at the running back position. Across the board, there's only one football. [At Boston College, the question became], how can you play a bunch of good running backs at once? It's a tough gig. But he's from the Virginia Beach area, which I recruited a little bit when I was at UConn. He liked the fact that I've had some success with running backs previously moving on to the next level. He saw an opportunity to come in and make a difference."

Will Phifer factor in to the running back competition?

"If he doesn't, I'll be very disappointed."

You've always said you're big on family and trying to create a family atmosphere at Towson. How big was it to land Jared Dangerfield, whose older brother Jordan is on the team and had to obviously recommend the experience to him?

"Bloodlines are bloodlines, families are families. We try and create one here and find people to be part of it. If you talk to every member of this recruiting class, the one thing that all of these kids have in common is that every one of these kids wants to be here above anywhere else. It's not like there weren't other schools that wanted them. These kids wanted to be a part of our future. They see things as they will be, not as they are. That's one thing that made them different. They're willing to see the past as the past, and see what the future can hold. You take a kid like Jared, and he's a highly recruited student-athlete coming out of the state of Florida. To go get him out of Florida, I'm glad we had the family ties to help close that deal."

Do you feel like this class adequately addresses any needs you had?

"Across the board, you definitely look at the kids you got and see who's going to graduate and try to plan for at least two years to fill out those positions. Basically, it's all about reestablishing quality depth so you're reloading – you're never rebuilding. You don't want to ever graduate a monster senior class and say, 'well, you've got three more years before you compete and do well again.' You want guys to fill in and step up. This class really fills any holes we might have had here in the future."


Are there any guys you're counting on to make an immediate impact?

"Truth be told, I would hope that none of those guys are impact guys as freshmen, because that doesn't speak as well to them as it speaks poorly to the guys ahead of them who have been here. That says they didn't work hard enough. I can tell you that we have quality players for our future, but that's only based on potential."

What does the quarterback battle look like heading into spring practice?

"Well, we've got some guys on campus and are bringing some more in this summer. Brian Potts and Peter Athens both have experience here. They'll be competing this spring. And there's a guy named Jarred Evans, a first-year player [that has enrolled early]. We'll let them battle and get the best out of that position. By the time we get to Week 1, I'll probably be as confident or more confident than I've ever been at the quarterback position since I've been here."

Looking back at your first two seasons at Towson, has there been anything that's really surprised you about the job?

"I actually had the advantage of being a graduate of Towson. When you know this place as well as I do, there's not a lot of surprises for me. I knew what I was getting in to, what the plan would be and how hard we're going to have to work. I'm excited for it. We're exactly where I thought we'd be, and I'm definitely pleased with our progress."

Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / Oct. 9, 2010