Receivers highlight Wildcat recruits
Offensive weapons were one goal of Baker University's football coach Mike Grossner for this year's recruiting class.
An NCAA Div. 1 wide receiver, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver and a first-team All-Frontier League running back were just a few of the offensive stars that Baker signed for the upcoming season.
"I think it fit our needs," Grossner said. "We were at a point with our depth and returning guys that we're not desperate to get young guys to play right away. So, we really attacked our needs at positions we felt like we needed."
Baker's top recruit was Tyrell Spain, a 6-3, 200-pound receiver that transferred from the University of Nebraska. Spain was highly recruited in 2004, but chose Nebraska.
He then sat out a year in Lincoln, Neb., before playing receiver last spring. In the fall, Spain switched sides of the ball to play cornerback to fill in for an injured Cornhusker. He started the first three games before becoming the nickleback for the remainder of the season.
"Tyrell Spain is our marquee guy for sure," Grossner said. "He went into Nebraska as an All-America receiver out of junior college. He wants to play receiver and that's why he came here."
The other top receiver Baker signed was Marcus Nolan, who transferred from Heart of America Athletic Conference rival Graceland University. Nolan and Spain are cousins.
"The wide receiver position was a place of need and we filled that at semester," Grossner said. "Tyrell Spain started at the University of Nebraska last year and he transferred in. He will be a senior for us. Then Marcus Nolan, Spain's cousin, started for Graceland in 2005, is a big time receiver. They are with us right now.
"They just add to the mix of our other receivers," Grossner said. "We feel like we have some more offensive power and fireworks, which we need."
The Wildcats also signed three running backs, including Gardner-Edgerton High School's AJ Fruits. He is a 5-10, 188-pound back who set several Trailblazer records.
Baker also brought in seven offensive lineman and two fullbacks to help the Wildcat offense.
"We needed offensive linemen for depth," Grossner said. "I am looking for a quarterback, because we only have three. We need another guy there. We needed some tailbacks and we signed three good ones that we feel can play for us. Fullback was a needy position and we signed a couple guys there."
Defensive players were also all over the recruiting class as Baker looked to improve its defensive line and defensive backs.
"We felt like we needed safeties and we got plenty," Grossner said. "Now that is one of our stronger positions.
"I felt like we upgraded big time on the interior defensive line," Grossner said. "Kyle Weinmaster will be able to play right away. I am still talking to a defensive tackle out of Texas that's going to give me yes or no next week on whether he is coming. We feel like that position is locked in and ready to go. The inside tackle players are always hard to find."
Grossner said he recruited all over the country, while his coaching staff remained mostly local.
"I mainly went out of state," Grossner said. "I mainly go to Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and Louisiana. The rest of our staff mostly stays in state, except for coach (Marc) Bergan, who did a nice job down in Arkansas. Coach (Jason) Thoren does a great job here in the area."
The Wildcats have been lifting weights and working on conditioning this winter with far more athletes than in previous years. Grossner said 75 players are working out, as opposed to 40 last year.
"We pushed it up a bit, as far as intensity," Grossner said. "We are running Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. We are lifting Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We are going to do some yoga as well. The kids' attitudes are phenomenal. They are all working hard. We've got a good feeling about the team."
Here is Baker's 2007 recruiting class with name, position, height, weight, previous school and hometown:
Sergio Allen, multi-purpose, 5-9, 180, Osceola High School, St. Petersburg, Fla.; James Anderson, wide receiver, 5-11, 175, McPherson HS, Lindsborg; Herb Askew, defensive back, 5-9, 185, Glendale CC, Kingman, Ariz.; Nick Bennett, defensive end, 6-2, 180, Osceola HS, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Matt Brock, defensive back, 5-11, 170, Holton HS, Holton; Jared Clark, offensive lineman, 6-2, 260, Springdale HS, Springdale, Ark., Philip Collins, offensive lineman, 6-5, 275, Blue Valley Northwest HS, Overland Park; Blaine Crow, tailback, 5-9, 200, Liberty HS, Liberty, Mo.; Austin DeGraeve, wide receiver, 6-0, 155, De Soto HS, De Soto; Alex Drake, offensive lineman, 6-5, 278, Goessel HS, Canton; Jordan Driskill, fullback, 5-9, 220, Mission Hills HS, San Marcos, Calif.; AJ Fruits, running back, 5-10, 188, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Olathe; Tyler Greenly, linebacker, 5-11, 190, Moore HS, Moore, Okla.; Justin Hart, tailback, 5-11, 180, Osceola HS, Seminole, Fla.; Andrew Henson, offensive lineman, 6-2, 280, Southern Boone County HS, Ashland, Mo.; Christopher Holly, fullback, 5-11, 245, Shawnee Heights HS, Topeka; Tyler Keating, long snapper, 6-0, 240, Olathe Northwest HS, Olathe; Matt Kinsman, offensive lineman, 6-0, 260, Highland CC, Mission; Zeb Kissinger, tight end, 6-4, 210, Tonganoxie HS, Tonganoxie; Lance Logan, defensive back, 5-9, 160, Glendale HS, Springfield, Mo.; Tyrone Madison, linebacker, 6-1, 245, Coffeyville CC, Donaldsonville, La.; Collin Maguire, defensive back, 6-1, 185, Olathe Northwest HS, Olathe; Justin McDaniel, defensive end/tight end, 6-3, 210, Tonganoxie HS, Tonganoxie; Brian Miller, defensive back, 6-2, 190, Choctaw HS, Choctaw, Okla.; Jacob Miller, offensive lineman, 6-1, 240, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner; Madison Morris, defensive back, 5-9, 170, Holton HS, Holton; Marcus Nolan, WR, 6-4, 220, Graceland University, San Diego; Andrew Roberts, offensive lineman, 6-3, 285, Bishop Ward HS, Kansas City, Kan.; Ben Schons, defensive back, 5-10, 190, Choctaw HS, Choctaw, Okla.; Bo Smith, wide receiver, 5-8, 163, Chanute HS, Chanute; Tyrell Spain, wide receiver, 6-3, 200, University of Nebraska, San Diego; Camron Thissen, linebacker, 6-2, 220, McPherson HS, McPherson; Kyle Weinmaster, defensive lineman, 6-2, 240, Free State HS, Lawrence; Joshua Wood, long snapper, 6-0, 210, Baldwin HS, Baldwin; Joshua Wright, linebacker, 6-1, 205, Springdale HS, Springdale, Ark.