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Rockets’ 2011 football recruiting class rated No. 1 in MAC

Head Football Coach Tim Beckman last week announced Toledo’s 2011 recruiting class, which is rated No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference by Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Head Football Coach Tim Beckman last week announced Toledo’s 2011 recruiting class, which is rated No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference by Rivals.com and Scout.com.

The University of Toledo football program unveiled its 2011 recruiting class last week, and for the second year in a row Head Coach Tim Beckman and his staff have signed one of the top classes in the Mid-American Conference.

Rivals.com and Scout.com both rank Toledo’s 2011 recruiting class as No. 1 in the MAC. A year ago, UT’s 2010 recruiting class also was ranked No. 1 in the MAC by Rivals.

The Rockets added 19 signees to a group of eight players who joined the program in January, bringing the total number of new players to 27. Those eight players are enrolled at UT and participating in off-season workouts. Fourteen of the new players are ranked as either three-star or four-star recruits.

The new players who were ranked as four-star recruits by at least one recruiting service coming out of high school include three transfer students: Josh Haden (Boston College), Vladimir Emilien (Michigan) and Jordan Haden (Florida). The fourth is defensive end Andre Sturdivant, a signee from Glenville High School in Cleveland.

Beckman said the relentless efforts of his staff, combined with a successful 2010 season, aided in UT’s success in securing another top recruiting class.

“I think the word is getting out about all the great things that are happening in our program,” said Beckman, who led the Rockets to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in 2010. “The winning tradition is back at Toledo, and a lot of young men want to become a part of that. This year’s recruiting class is a very talented and committed group. They will be a major part of the Rocket family for the next four or five years.”

Locally, UT signed three student-athletes: Kyle Cameron, a center from Toledo Central Catholic; Gabe Gilbert, a linebacker from Clyde High School; and Eddie “Cheatham” Norrils, a defensive back from Toledo St. John’s who was named The Blade Player of the Year in northwest Ohio. Norrils joins Rockets Eric Page (Springfield High School) and Isaiah Ballard (Toledo Rogers) as The Blade Player of the Year selections.

“We really put a lot of emphasis on recruiting in our own backyard, not only in northwest Ohio but in the five-hour radius around Toledo that we call ‘Rocket Nation,’” Beckman said. “There’s a lot of great talent in the state of Ohio, and we signed some of the best players in the state. Locally, we really want the best players from northwest Ohio to stay at home and play at Toledo. Our coaching staff is working very hard to make that happen. In the last two days of recruiting, each of our seven assistants visited eight schools in the area, so we visited a total of 112 schools in Ohio in those last two days. That shows you the level of commitment we are making to recruit locally.”

Beckman noted that 16 of the new players attended a Rocket football summer camp, either at the Glass Bowl or at one of the satellite camps that the Toledo coaches conducted around the state. “That shows you how important those high school camps are,” Beckman said. “High school recruits are getting a chance to become familiar with our coaching staff, and we get a chance to see a lot of young football talent from around the state.”

Eight of UT’s 27 new players previously signed letters of intent and are enrolled in school: linebacker Jordan Barnes, defensive back Vladimir Emlien, defensive lineman Keenan Gibbs, defensive back Jordan Haden, cornerback John James, tight end Colby Kratch, defensive lineman Phil Lewis and cornerback Keith Suggs. Gibbs, James and Suggs will have freshman eligibility in 2011. Barnes, Kratch and Lewis are junior college transfers; Barnes will be eligible as a sophomore in 2011, while Kratch and Lewis will be juniors. Emlien (Michigan) and Haden (Florida) are transfers who will have to sit out a year before becoming eligible to play in 2012.

To see a synopsis of the Rockets’ 2011 recruiting class as of Feb. 2, click here.

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