Quality athletes the focus for Martin’s first recruiting class

Quality athletes the focus for Martin's first recruiting class

Colorado Mesa University went two months without a head football coach, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Mavericks have fallen behind in the recruiting process.

New head coach Russ Martin took his contacts and combined them with the recruits assistants Miles Kochevar, Phil Johnston and graduate assistant Seth Damron have on their lists and has put together a list of recruits to bring in for visits in the next week and a half.

“I told (recruits) at the start, it didn’t matter where I was coaching,” Martin said. “They didn’t know where I’d be when I recruited them. They found out as things have come out and during that whole process, I had a lot of coaches and players calling trying to find out. Once I was hired, several of them said, ‘Coach, we’ve been waiting for this.’

“They would schedule other visits and try to keep that last weekend open for us. We will have to be flexible with our recruiting.”

Martin and his staff have until Saturday to contact recruits. High school seniors can sign letters of intent with NCAA institutions beginning Feb. 1. The signing period continues through April 1.

Martin is bringing in recruits the next two weekends.

“I feel very good about what’s going to happen yet,” Martin said. “There have been a lot (of calls). The good part is they are quality individuals we had previously evaluated.

“It’s great to have the enthusiasm from the potential recruits and the high school coaches with the situation here. We’ve just got to follow through. Once we get them on campus and they see what Mesa has to offer, they’re going to be surprised.”

Martin doesn’t have a number of recruits in mind that he’d like to sign for his first recruiting class at Mesa. He’s focused on the type of recruit.

“We’re not really looking at any specific number right now,” Martin said. “We’re looking more for quality. If it happens to be 15, we’ll be satisfied with that. If it’s 30, great. If we get quantity with that quality, tremendous, but we’re not going to sacrifice the integrity of the type of player we want to bring in just to bring in numbers.

“If we can’t find a good player at a lineman standpoint, we’re not going to sign him just to sign him. We’re going after quality young athletes.”

Several things determine a quality athlete, Martin said, beginning with a great athlete. Quality includes intangibles like work ethic, commitment and character.

“We want guys that fit in to our team chemistry,” Martin said. “Once our current players understand what we really want, they’ll be our best recruiters. They will be able to help sell that and give us a better picture of what image they got from that young man and if he fits. Our players can report back to us.”

Martin hopes to sign two to three quarterbacks during the signing period even with five possible quarterbacks returning.

“The reason being is we’ll be a quarterback-driven offense,” Martin said. “What we do offensively will be determined by our quarterbacks. As we get going through the spring there are a couple guys currently at quarterback if they’re not winning the position, we will try to look at that and see how they fit at another position.”

Robert Felberg could be one of them, having played wide receiver the past two seasons after starting the season at QB.

“I enjoy recruiting quality athletes at quarterback because they can move to other things,” Martin said. “It becomes a relatively easy adjustment to move from quarterback. They have a good understanding of the game.”

Martin will consider a junior college quarterback, but usually prefers incoming freshmen.

“If there is a young man that happens to fit, maybe, but I wouldn’t say that’s a priority to get a junior college quarterback,” Martin said.

“Honestly, I like to recruit junior college kids to fit holes or needs we have. Other than that, I prefer the four-year player. He understands what we really want and has a chance to adjust to the much bigger picture. We want him to know he’s going to bleed maroon.”

The Mavericks lost four linebackers who started last season, so that’s one area of need.

Martin, Kochevar and Johnston will be on the road early this week visiting recruits.

The rest of Martin’s coaching staff could be finalized as early as next week, Martin said. Defensive coordinator Todd Auer is in Chadron, Neb., tying up loose ends before moving to Grand Junction.

“We’ll have a staff as good as any in the country,” Martin said.

Martin is planning individual meetings with the current players the week of Jan. 30 to get a feel on the current players in the program.

Spring practice hasn’t been finalized, but Martin said it will likely begin immediately after spring break.


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