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February 17, 2010

Q&A with Towson coach Rob Ambrose

Two weeks ago, Rob Ambrose put the finishing touches on his second recruiting class as Towson's coach. rob-ambrose.jpg

The Tigers' 15-man class includes six players from Florida, three from Maryland, two from New Jersey, two from Virginia, one from Pennsylvania and one from North Carolina.

Towson's 2010 group is composed of five defensive backs, three linebackers, two wide receivers, two punter/kickers, one quarterback, one tight end and one offensive lineman.

Ambrose spoke with Recruiting Report on Tuesday about the Tigers' class.

Overall, how well do you feel this class addresses your needs?

Ambrose: “It addresses our needs on two levels. One, it fills needs for specific spots with the total number of scholarships we have to give. But it also addresses our need for spacing out scholarship players by years. If we just followed the normal mold, we would only have six to give [next year]. The goal is to spread the scholarships out by positions needed so we have an appropriate number per year. You never want to give out 20 scholarships per year but you never want to give out seven either. So we did a good job balancing that for this class and the future.”

How were you able to have such significant success in Florida?

“If you look at the number of schools that the state has and the number of kids that can earn a scholarship, there aren’t that many [scholarships to go around] vs. the size of the state. So the pool is large. Also, it’s a state where they play football 12 months a year. So the talent level is clearly there, and we have ties. [The staff] did a good job on the East Coast with the coaches in the area. A lot of grinding. A lot of grinding.”

Do you have ties to Florida dating back to your UConn days or is it more of your assistants having ties to the state?

“All of the above, plus us being down there starting last spring. One of the guys on the staff, [quarterbacks coach] John Kaleo, [lived in] Tampa. So he knows Florida well. He knew some of those kids when they were kids. I’ve recruited in almost every city in the state at one point in time. We had, at any given time, two if not three coaches in the state working it.”

Which of those Florida players really stand out?

“It all depends on who you ask. The kids all have potential to be very successful Division I players. Derek Soven was just declared the top, all-state kicker in Florida. A Mid-Atlantic school pulling away the best kicker in the state of Florida – or the best of anything in the state – will probably shock people. But across the board, we think all the kids have a lot of potential to help make our program better.”

How did you feel about your in-state haul?

“I think if you look at the number of possible kids who signed [Football Championship Subdivision] scholarships, this is not a big year here. I told the entire staff that before you’re even allowed to think about recruiting another area outside the state of Maryland, you have to evaluate every possible player here. In the spring time, in our first week out, we don’t go anywhere but Maryland. We cover the entire state. That’s how we start to build the wall [around the state’s borders] and get the best of the best. If you’re a scholarship football player, the only reason you don’t go to Maryland or Towson is you were out of scholarships. Then you can leave the state. So I was pleased with how we covered and evaluated the state. There was one that got away. I guess if you take all the kids that are scholarship players, if only one got away [that’s not too bad]. But I always want to keep the best of the best at home all the time.”

You're obviously young at quarterback, but does Chris Hart have a chance to compete for the job?

“Oh yeah. It’s a two-fold deal. All the kids that play quarterback currently are all under the age of 20. Most of them are younger than 19. At that position, the Division I experience is huge. That’s not to say that we aren’t talented there, but we’re just so young. Bringing in an older guy does two things. It clearly raises the bar with the guys already competing for the job. But it also puts him in a position to be a mentor both athletically and socially. At the college level, with all the rigors involved in Division I, he’s going to be carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders. He was brought in to compete for the job.”

Is he already enrolled in classes?

“He is in school right now. He’s here.”

How many early enrollees do you have?


Who are the two guys besides Hart?

Daniel Vaughan from Virginia Beach. He’s a freshman. And Jordan Dangerfield, who is a mid-year transfer from Hofstra after they dropped their program.”

It's been a trend with FBS schools to have early enrollees. Does that now apply to FCS schools as well?

"Oh, without a doubt. Division I football is Division I football. It's a 12-months-a-year commitment. There are kids that know if they come in the spring, there's a chance to get acclimated both academically and athletically. It gives them a better opportunity to play sooner. Who can fault them for that?"

Which guys do you see contributing right away?

"The standard answer is the farther away from the football, the better chance they have to play early, just because of the physical contact. But any guy that plays [defensive back], receiver or quarterback is going to have a real good chance to compete really early."

Which guy was the toughest get of the class?

"Corey Ford from Pennsylvania is playing in the Big 33 game. That's a team that's made up of Division I superstars, and he committed to us early, early in the summer. So we were holding on to our butts for that kid, for eight months, trying to keep the wolves at bay, so to speak. Each kid that we have, once they committed to us, were pretty thoroughly evaluated. ... It's a long battle and all the coaches did a really good job."

Was it helpful in terms of name recognition on the recruiting trail to have a guy like Saints offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod become a household name?

"It helps. It really does. Having him -- and he's been around here a little bit -- having such a great year, we'd be stupid not to use him in some way. [We had] two guys this year. [Saints] assistant head coach Joe Vitt is a Towson guy. So two Towson dudes in the Super Bowl. Name another FCS school that's got two guys. That's pretty good. We couldn't be more proud of [Bushrod] and he couldn't be more proud to be a Towson alum."

Baltimore Sun photo of Rob Ambrose by Karl Merton Ferron / Sept. 17, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:59 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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