STATESBORO, Ga. — Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken and his staff showed they would go to any lengths to improve the Eagles football team Wednesday on National Signing Day.
Monken’s fourth recruiting class included a quarterback from Cincinnati and a kicker from New Jersey as part of the 23 signees.
Georgia Southern also inked seven running backs, six defensive backs, five defensive linemen, two offensive linemen and a long snapper.
“I think there are guys in this class who will play (right away),” Monken said. “Maybe several guys.”
Quarterback Alfred Ramsby and kicker YoungHoe Koo raised the most eyebrows.
Ramsby, who ran an option offense similar to Georgia Southern’s, was the Cincinnati Enquirer’s high school Player of the Year after rushing for 1,688 yards and 18 touchdowns and throwing for 1,649 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading Colerain High to an undefeated regular season and a No. 19 national ranking.
Monken, who recruited the Cincinnati area while an assistant at Navy, used his connections to corral the elusive quarterback.
“I think for a quarterback, we’ll go anywhere,” Monken said. “In our offense, there is a specific athlete we look for.”
Monken was looking for a place-kicker with specifics traits as well – kick the ball through the uprights. He thinks he found one in Koo, who displayed a strong leg by recording touchbacks on 47 of 50 kickoffs.
Georgia Southern, 10-4 last season, lost three games by a field goal or less, including 23-20 to North Dakota State in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.
Monken explained it took a lot of leg work to find Koo after being steered toward another New Jersey kicker.
Favorable connections played a big part in landing several recruits.
One of Georgia Southern’s top signees was defensive lineman Jay Ellison, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound tackle who was rated the nation’s 34th best defensive tackle and was rated a three-star performer (out of five stars) by ESPN and Rivals.com.
Monken said Harris County assistant coach Danny Durham, a four-year player at Georgia Southern, provided some inroads.
The Eagles also got highly regarded Thomson defensive back William Bussey, who is the cousin of Darius Eubanks, a Georgia Southern safety who finished his eligibility in 2012.
The Eagles also lured Bussey’s teammates - defensive lineman Bernard Dawson and running back Chris Jordan. Jordan ran for 2,046 yards and 20 touchdowns while earning a first-team all-state selection from The Associated Press.
Long snapper Nick Sewak, from Lassiter High in Marietta, is the son of former Georgia Southern head coach and current Georgia Tech offensive line coach.
Running back signees bring impressive credentials. Darius Jones, of Woodruff High in South Carolina, was timed at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Chaz Thornton, from Stephens County, ran for 6,309 yards during his career while earning all-state honors. He ran for 2,187 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior.
Southern added a versatile player in Ware County’s running back/linebacker Xavier Tobler, who was the Region 3-AAAAA Player of the Year after leading Ware to the Class AAAAA state championship game.
Tobler ran for 1,760 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior. He was an all-region performer as a junior.
Running back Keshun Hill, from Northside Warner Robins, was the Macon Telegraph’s 2012 All-Middle Georgia after rushing for 1,223 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also caught 32 passes for 409 yards and eight scores.
Georgia Southern also signed Camden County’s Rafael Hardee, who made the All-Region 1-AAAAAA team after registering 71 tackles and 12 tackles for losses.