For head football coach Latrell Scott, this year's 17-member recruiting class was all about filling needs, he said.
After last year's season was plagued with injuries, Scott set out to find versatile athletes that were playing more than one position for their high school team, he said.
One of the biggest needs that Scott wanted to fill was the offensive and defensive line, he said. In an ideal world, the Spiders would have 15 players in these positions, but last year they had six, he said.
"We had six healthy linemen for [last] spring," Scott said. "There were times during the spring that if someone went down, we had to take a break. So the offensive and defensive lines were big areas of needs for us."
Two players committed to Richmond before the official signing day on Feb. 2, cornerback Mylon Blueford and Georgia Tech safety transfer, Cooper Taylor, who will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Blueford is a Virginia native from Oscar Smith High School who graduated early and is now taking classes here, Scott said.
"It takes a very mature kid to graduate early," he said.
Blueford said the coaches already had him lifting and on a meal plan to pack on some pounds before the regular season.
"I think the ability to have him play what you would call an extra spring will be great for him," Scott said. "If you go down and look at him and some of the things he's been able to do with our team at this point, he doesn't look like a kid who was playing high school football in December."
Fortunately for Blueford, he doesn't have to start his college experience as the newbie thanks to Taylor, he said. And Scott is excited to have Taylor here too, he said.
"Bringing in a guy like Cooper brings instant credibility," Scott said. Taylor went to a high school much like Richmond and knows the discipline of an athletically and academically demanding school, Scott said.
In Cooper's three years with the Yellow Jackets, he recorded 90 tackles and intercepted two passes in 20 games, and seven starts.
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What Taylor isn't used to is having such a young coach, but he is eager to play under Scott, he said.
"Having a coach that is recently out of playing and can get in touch with what we go through is nice," he said. "He seems to really care about the well-being of the players and the energy he brings every day is really exciting."
Taylor also fills a need for the program, Scott said. Free safety Max Prokell graduated last semester creating a hole for Taylor to fill, he said.
"We were looking for something and he was looking for something and the two matched," Scott said.
Taylor is the third transfer for Richmond under Scott. Last year, the team picked up quarterback Aaron Corp from the University of Southern California and offensive tackle Richard Muldrow from Rutgers University. Muldrow started every game last season and Corp started the first five games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Despite the success of previous transfers, Scott said that he did not actively seek transfer players.
"I don't want a team full of transfers because I think, at times, you can have too many transfers," Scott said. "If you look at the transfers we've had, those guys have filled great positions of need. We'll investigate things as people come our way."
Although Scott and his staff work diligently to recruit players, they aren't the ones with the most pull on potential Spiders, he said.
"Our players are our biggest selling point," he said. "They live in the dorms, they go to class, the play the games and know the coaches, so they are a big selling point for us."
And the players did a good job, Blueford said. "It's been three weeks and I already feel bonded with the guys," he said. And that unity within the team isn't taken lightly, Scott said.
"We place a lot of stock in what our players say,"Scott said. "If our guys don't have a good feeling about a guy that comes on a visit we seriously consider their input."
Scott said he is unsure of how many of the newcomers will redshirt during their freshman year and how many will play right away. Six true freshmen played last year, but Scott said he would prefer to redshirt most freshmen.
"I feel like these guys would be much better players at 22 [years old] than they are at 18," Scott said. "But if a young man has the ability to help us right away, we have no issue with playing them."
For an incoming freshman class, 21 is the magic number, Scott said. A combination of about 15 scholarship players and six walk-on players will round out the 90 player maximum allowed on the roster next year, he said.
Although the football team is standard size, the university is small, but that isn't holding the football program back, Scott said.
"A lot of upper echelon schools struggle athletically, but we feel like we can give the kids the best of both worlds," he said. "We are a small private school that actually wins."
Scott said he is excited about his incoming class, but knows he has to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk.
"On paper it's great," Scott said. "Now it's all about getting them here and on the field."
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