STATESBORO -- When it came to quantity against quality, it was quality that won out with new Georgia Southern head coach Willie Fritz.
Fritz introduced his first recruiting class Wednesday afternoon, and although he could have signed up to 25 players for Georgia Southerns first FBS recruiting class, Fritz unveiled a list of 17 players as new Eagles.
Georgia Southern will join the FBS ranks July 1 when it officially becomes a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
While Fritz held out the possibility of signing some additional players once the National Signing Day frenzy cools, his 17 signees were good enough for 247sports and other rating services to rank the class as the best in the Sun Belt.
Arkansas State, with 25 signees, ranked second in the conference while in-state rival Georgia States class of 24, which included five early enrollees, was ranked as the conferences sixth best by 247sports. Appalachian State was ranked third as it, like Georgia Southern, makes the move up to FBS.
There probably will still be a few people we will sign, but were not going to just go out and sign someone, Fritz said. Im not concerned with signing a full class, but I want players who are good enough to be FBS football players.
In addition to the players who signed Wednesday three earlier signees are already enrolled in school. The school had earlier announced junior college cornerback Aaron Shaw would be an early enrollee, but Shaw never showed up to enroll in school.
The early signees are freshman offensive lineman Ryan Northrup of Norcross, running back Ken Thomas of East Mississippi Community College and running back Derek Keaton of Coffeyville (Kn.) Community College.
Six of the 20 signees are from Georgia, six are junior college transfers, and five are offensive linemen.
Christian Taylor of Lexington, S.C., heads the offensive line list at 6-foot-5, 340 pounds while Trayvon Williams, who played at Camden County, checks in at 6-3, 306, and Christian Williams of Wetumpka, Ala., carries 305 pounds on a 6-1 frame.
Fritzs offense will represent a departure from the Eagles triple-option although it will still be run oriented. He said it will require bigger, stronger linemen who will be blocking more with their hands than their shoulders and will spend more time engaged with defensive linemen.
We have a lot of senior offensive linemen who will start and play a lot next year, Fritz said. Weve got to get a start on replacing them, and signing offensive linemen was a primary focus for us.
The quarterback position was a different matter, however, as for possibly the first time ever Georgia Southern failed to list a quarterback on its list of recruits.
Were very, very excited about this class, Fritz said. We feel like weve got quarterbacks on the roster. We didnt feel that was a pressing need.
Fritz said he considers the quarterback to be another running back, but he also wants one who can throw the football and throw it accurately, 15 to 20 times per game.
Kevin Ellison, who started several games last year as a redshirt freshman including the 26-20 upset of Florida, returns along with freshman Alfred Ramsby, who missed last season with a knee injury, Favian Upshaw, who sat out last year as a transfer from Florida International, and redshirt freshman Vegas Harley.