CAA Signing Day In Review: 'Nova, JMU Cap Impressive Hauls

The implementation of an early signing period in December has altered the dynamics of National Signing Day in February somewhat. Still, the first Wednesday of the month marks an important milestone in the development of any college football program. 

National Signing Day 2020 in the Colonial Athletic Association marks the introduction of the league’s next crop of stars. In addition to high-potential freshmen, CAA teams are bringing in transfers with the opportunity to make immediate impressions. 

Delaware 

Players Signed: 15; four in February, 11 in December 

Danny Rocco and Co. went hard on offensive line support in the February period, landing commitments from four players up front. Among them is Ben Trent, a transfer from the University of Virginia. 

One player the Blue Hens new linemen could be blocking for in the future is early-signee Deven Bollinger, a 6-foot-5 quarterback out of Northwestern Lehigh High School in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. 

Bollinger started and earned All-League all four prep years. 

Elon 

Players Signed: 20; eight in February, 12 in December

Elon ended coach Tony Trisciani’s first season at the helm on a high note, knocking off Towson. The Phoenix continued their positive momentum into the offseason on the recruiting trail, with a class Trisciani praised for hitting specific needs. 

“We addressed our needs at all three levels on defense with two high-motor and disruptive defensive linemen, three athletic linebackers and two defensive backs with good length, speed and coverage skills,” he said via ElonPhoenix.com. 

To say the Elon staff scoured the country is no hyperbole: One of the players added for 2020 comes from Los Angeles. Linebacker Nick Veloz earned 1st Team All-California Interscholastic Federation recognition at Cathedral High School in L.A., and participated in last year’s edition of The Opening. 

James Madison

Players Signed: 18; four in February, 14 in December 

The reigning CAA champions and national runners-up bolstered their ranks before embarking on Frisco in January, and finished out the recruiting period with four additions in the second signing period. 

The Dukes’ success with adding impact transfers could continue with the addition of Joe Joe Norwood from UMass, who signed in December. 

February signee and linebacker Payne Bauer told the Winchester Star James Madison “felt like it was home” immediately. 

“It wasn’t all about football,” Bauer told the Star. “They’d ask what was going on in my life. That made me feel really good. They cared about me. That was important.”

Maine

Players Signed: 27; 17 in February, 10 in December 

Maine coach Nick Charlton and his staff were certainly active once the 2019 campaign ended, signing 27 players to the Black Bears’ 2020 class. 

While Maine loses one of the best wide receivers in the Football Championship Subdivision with the graduation of Earnest Edwards, the program brings in the son of one of the greatest receivers ever. Montigo Moss signed with the Black Bears in the second period out of Fork Union Military Academy in Charlotte. 

“The coaching staff gave a good vibe,” Moss told the Portland Press Herald about his visit to Orono. “And I noticed there was a good relationship between the players and the staff.”

New Hampshire

Players Signed: 20; 11 in February, nine in December 

Interim head coach Ricky Santos hit the in-state recruiting scene hard, signing three Granite State prospects in the February signing period. Santos also dipped into his original home state, Massachusetts, adding three prospects from Hyannis, Peabody and Marblehead. 

New Hampshire’s February signees join a December class heavy on Pennsylvania prospects. One of them, wide receiver Caleb Burke, will again team with another Richland High School product, lineman Collin Instone. 

“Collin was jumping up and down when I told him,” Burke told the Tribune-Democrat upon announcement of his verbal commitment in September.

Rhode Island

Players Signed: 19 

Coaches often talk about casting wide nets in recruiting. At Rhode Island, the Rams bring in a class that rewarded such a strategy. 

“Our staff worked the entire East Coast, from Miami up through Massachusetts,” Rams coach Jim Fleming said per GoRhody.com. 

And it wasn’t just the Eastern Seaboard Rhody staff combed. Among Rhode Island’s signees is Jared Heywood, a 247Sports.com 3-star prospect from the Los Angeles area. The Rams also signed a 3-star wide receiver out of Florida, Zion Jackson

Richmond

Players Signed: 17; two in February, 15 in December 

Russ Huesman’s staff did much of its recruiting work at the early signing period, signing 15 before Christmas. Among the Spiders’ early signees is dual-threat quarterback Fonnae Webb, a D.C. prospect whose other suitors included fellow CAA programs James Madison and Towson. 

Richmond also picked up linebacker Wistar Allen, a 247sports.com 3-star recruit and the nation’s No. 121-ranked inside linebacker. 

Stony Brook

Players Signed: 16; six in February, 10 in December

Stony Brook’s 2020 newcomers feature prospects from all around the nation – and one with Power Five conference experience. Tight end Tyler Devera joined Chuck Priore’s Seawolves in the early signing period, transferring from Big Ten Conference member Maryland. 

His suitors as a prep prospects included Louisville from the ACC and Colorado out of the Pac-12. 

Akeal Lalaind, a JUCO transfer from the San Francisco Bay Area, is a promising addition to the secondary. 

Towson 

Players Signed: 13; 11 in February, two in December 

Tigers coach Rob Ambrose said in his statement on National Signing Day that “recruiting calendars and cycles change.” Towson’s 2020 class looked a lot more like the traditional signing crop, with a bulk of players joining in February. 

Among them is running back Sabias Folley, a 5-foot-11, 235-pound thumper who garnered some Power Five looks. Folley is a ball-carrier in the mold of Yeedee Thaenrat, the Tigers’ primary option in 2019 after Shane Simpson’s season-ending injury. 

UAlbany

Players Signed: 21; 10 in February, 11 in December

UAlbany followed up its historic 2019 campaign by loading up nicely for 2020 and beyond. Greg Gattuso’s staff signed 21 new Great Danes, including 247Sports.com 3-star safety Semaj Brown out of Chicago, and West Virginia transfer Ricky Johns. 

At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Johns could be an immediate option in an already-deep corps of pass-catchers for quarterback Jeff Undercuffler. 

Villanova

Players Signed: 15; one in February, 14 in December

Mark Ferrante welcomes what might be the most talent-rich recruiting class in the CAA. February’s lone signee, Texas-based defensive tackle Ayden Howard, is one of five 247Sports.com 3-star prospects. Two hail from the Lone Star State. 

Villanova also picked up a commitment from tight end Mitchell Bothwell

From the local scene come 3-stars K-Shawn Schulters, Dapree Bryant and Ricky Ortega. 

William & Mary

Players Signed: 16; five in February, 11 in December 

The possibility for a first-year player to have immediate impact may not have been more evident anywhere in the CAA last season than at William & Mary, where freshman Bronson Yoder was one of the most game-changing playmakers in the conference. 

Will Mike London’s second season in Williamsburg produce a similar instant impact performer? 

One name to remember is Malachi Imoh. The Handley High School product set records for rushing yards and touchdowns per the Winchester Star, and did so playing a variety of positions. 

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