STATESBORO -- When it comes to recruiting in college football, theres no such thing as a guarantee.
With 30 years as a college coach, new Georgia Southern football head coach Willie Fritz knows that, and some players former head coach Jeff Monken and his staff were recruiting have now learned that.
Fritz is two weeks into replacing Monken, and last weekend he hosted 12 prospective recruits. He will have approximately 15 coming in this weekend in the final big push before National Signing Day on Feb. 5, when he hopes to land 25 new players.
When Monken left Dec. 24 for Army, there were approximately 16 players committed to Georgia Southern, according to offensive coordinator Brent Davis, who later joined Monken at Army.
That number has shrunk as some players have jumped ship, and Fritz had to tell some others they would not fit into his scheme.
There are some good, some really good, kids committed, and there are some in that two-week period we lost, Fritz said. Those things happen. There were some on the list that were not a fit, either.
We got to them as soon as possible so they would have an opportunity elsewhere. Those things happen when you have a transition.
Fritz inherited four new players when he assumed the job Jan. 10.
Already in the fold were junior college transfers Lakenderic Thomas, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound running back from East Mississippi, Aaron Shaw, a 5-11, 195-pound safety from Navarro, Derek Keaton, a 5-10, 170-pound running back from Coffeyville (Kan.), and Ryan Northrup, a 6-3, 280-pound offensive lineman who played last fall at Norcross. All enrolled at the beginning of the second semester and will be eligible to participate in spring practice.
Meanwhile, Fritz and the staff he has assembled -- he retained defensive coordinator Jack Curtis and wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Chad Lunsford while bringing four assistants from Sam Houston State with him -- have been busy searching for players.
While Georgia Southern has not officially announced new hirings, Sam Houston State offensive coordinator Doug Ruse, defensive line coach Johnny Jernigan, wide receivers coach Matt Barrett and running backs coach Anthony Johnson came with him, Fritz said.
Ive got a couple of spots to be filled, Fritz said. The most important thing right now is recruiting. The next two weeks are going to be very, very important.
While he did not point to any specific needs, saying he had done very little evaluation of returning players due to time constraints, Fritz said he had certain types of players in mind.
We are looking for players, but we have got a formula, Fritz said. We would like to sign five offensive linemen, a high school running back, three wide receivers, a tight end and a quarterback if we can find one that we think will fit in with what were doing. Defensively, we would like to sign two interior linemen, three ends, two inside linebackers, three corners and a safety.
He wants linemen, Fritz said, who are 6-3 or taller and 300 pounds, and a quarterback who can not only run the football, but also throw it effectively as his offense calls for 15-20 passes per game.
The biggest difference in our recruiting and what they did here before is in the offensive linemen, Fritz said. In the past, movement was the big thing for them: Guys had to be able to move and have quickness to climb to the second level. What were going to do were going to need a little more size, so we need bigger guys.
Fritz said there is a need for more wide receivers, too, because that role is changing. In his offense, he plays with receivers who can run with the ball and block, as opposed to slot backs who can block and also catch passes.
With a coaching staff that has few state contacts, Fritz acknowledged it adds to the challenge of putting together a class in less than a month. He has, however, been pleased with the reception he and his coaches have received.
It has been outstanding, Fritz said. The high school coaches understand Georgia Southern, and what its about, especially here in the state of Georgia.
In finding players were working off lists, using recruiting services, and were going to schools with players. We cannot afford, due to the late start, to waste time at schools where there are no players. Were trying to find guys that are FBS players, so we are looking far and wide for them.
Fritz said he would prefer to recruit players who are no more than four hours from campus, but with the current situation exceptions will be made. He does not, however, plan to recruit any players from Texas.
There are plenty of players in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, Fritz said. Were going into Alabama, but I dont want to recruit a player that has to get on an airplane to get here. We want a full class, but we want guys who are going to stay here.