Lehigh’s football team has announced its class of 2020, comprised of 10 offensive players and seven defensive players.
The signing period for potential collegiate athletes is Feb. 3-10, but Lehigh announced its new recruits on the third. Chris Wakely, the assistant director of athletics recruitment, said that recruiting is actually a year-round process, but said that recruiting intensifies after the end of the football season.
Wakely’s role in this process is formulating a plan with the coaches and also acting as a liaison to the Office of Financial Aid and Admissions. This year, the recruitment plan involved a smaller number of players than the 31 of the previous class, but they were still able to address positions in which they felt they had needs. Wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Scott Brisson said that they try not to go a year without addressing a position on the team.
“We were pretty distributed as far as how we divvied up our scholarships and our money,” Brisson said. “I think we got a very complete class because of it, and that’s always been our philosophy.”
One of the team’s big signings on the offensive line is Alex Motley, who is 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. Motley is coming from New Jersey where during high school he was two-time first team All-Conference and All-County, in addition to being a team captain and leading his team with the highest GPA all four years.
Tight end Stephen Puhl from western Pennsylvania is another addition on the offensive side with a lot of size at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. Puhl was also a team captain and four year high honors student.
On the defensive side of the ball defensive lineman Matt Prendergast has a particularly impressive high school resume. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Prendergast was All-Conference, All-Area and Special Mention All-State and his team won the Illinois 6A state championship in 2014 and the 5A championship in 2015.
Some of the traits that Brisson and Wakely both said they look for in recruits were competitive spirit as well as a combination of athletic ability, educational drive and good individual character. One of the goals of the program that Wakely mentioned is to develop their athletes in all areas of life, not just athletically.
“Ability, clearly,” Wakely said. “Academic ability, absolutely. And then individual character is what they’re really trying to identify.”
Brisson also thinks that the amount of football knowledge that recruits come into college having is changing.
“I think the learning curve has been flattened a little bit over the last few years,” Brisson said. “Guys are playing more football.”
In recruiting, Brisson also emphasized that they look for players who are putting in the time watching film and playing a lot during high school whose work ethic will translate to college. Even with this increased level of knowledge, there will still be a period of learning for these recruits. One of the goals of the coaching staff is that they try to appeal to the variety of learning styles that their players may have so that everyone can be progressing throughout the year.
The appeal of the Patriot League, and Lehigh in particular, is another factor in recruiting athletes. Both Wakely and Brisson said that Lehigh’s ability to offer both high-level academics and athletics at the school gives them an advantage over some other schools.
“I think it’s a unique guy that’s drawn to Lehigh in particular.” Brisson said. “With our ability to offer merit scholarships based on football we certainly have a very attractive product and the league in general is very attractive.”
The recent success of former athletes like Ryan Spadola and Will Rackley also contributes to the attractiveness of the league. Both former Lehigh football players have gone on to have careers in the NFL, and their success reflects the level of the program and adds to the tradition of Lehigh football.
Overall, Wakely and Brisson both said they have high opinions of this class. They hope that their recruiting formula will yield success on the field for years to come.