Cignetti sees 2014 recruiting class as ‘strongest yet’

There aren’t many football teams that have had more recent success at the Division II level than Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and that also seems to be true when it comes to recruiting.

Last week, the Crimson Hawks had 21 players sign national letters of intent to join the team, and coach Curt Cignetti sees the recruiting class as his “strongest yet,” both athletically and academically.

“I wouldn’t want to single out anyone in particular,” Cignetti said, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had some freshmen play right away.”

Among the 21 recruits are six offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three defensive backs, two linebackers, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end and a pair of athletes who could take up positions on either side of the ball.

Cignetti also noted that in taking a long-term perspective, the team’s last two recruiting classes have helped build a dominant foundation.

“Our staff did a really good job,” Cignetti said.

“How you finish in recruiting is important, and we really finished strong. I won’t say it’s an easy sell, but IUP is a good sell; players see the tradition of success in our vision and plan moving forward.”

The Crimson Hawks, who finished 9-2 a year after advancing to the national semifinals, could see some early contributions from the running back signees.

They will help make up the pool of players trying to fill the shoes of departed starter De’Antwan “The Rocket” Williams and No. 2-man Erik Finklea, although the Crimson Hawks do have two skilled backs returning next season.

Although Izzy Green (sophomore, computer science) showed promise in his debut season and will return to the backfield, Cignetti said the team is considering moving Patrick Ferguson (sophomore, health and physical education) to the other side of the ball as a defensive tackle, leaving potential openings at running back.

“We did sign three backs we’re excited about, and all these guys will have a chance in camp,” Cignetti said.

Shannon Jackson of Fairview and Luigi Lista-Brinza of Central Catholic are IUP’s two running back recruits, but Jordan Brown (RB/CB, Chambersburg) and Walt Pegues (RB/WR/CB, Central) – the Hawks’ “athlete” recruits – could also see opportunities in the backfield, or on the other side of the ball.