Florida Atlantic didn't create much buzz on National Signing Day.

In fact, FAU's class of 11 signees was rated by Rivals.com as the worst in the country, 120th out of 120 FBS teams, Scout.com was a little more generous, ranking the Owls 119th.

"This has been an unusual year due to the fact that we just had a few spots available under the maximum scholarship limits," Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger said in a released statement. "With that in mind, we are pleased with the players who have elected to join us.

"It is one of the strongest classes, and we may add more as time goes by."

The strength of the class is on both lines.

Defensive end Jerome McClain, a 6-2, 263-pounder out of Pensacola and offensive lineman Blake Parrish of Bartram Trail in St. Augustine will add some depth on both sides of the ball. Clewiston lineman Willie Huggins (6-2, 305) could wind up on either the offensive or defensive line.

The three will join Carol City defensive end Cory Henry, a four-star recruit from last season's class who enrolled in January,

The Owls also addressed a need at quarterback. All-time FAU leading passer Rusty Smith left a senior this season leaving fifth-year senior Jeff Van Camp as his replacement. As a result, FAU signed two quarterbacks in the class, Nick Bracewell (Lafayette High in Live Oak, Fla.) and Stephen Curtis (Sumter High in South Sumter, S.C.).


--Two members of FAU's football team of Haitian decent found out their families were OK following the devastating earthquakes that hit the country in January. Daniel Joseph, a junior defensive end on the football team, said most of his family from coastal port town of Saint-Marc are doing fine. Receiver Lester Jean learned that members of his extended family in Port-au-Prince are OK.

"I've been there," said Jean, a junior from Miami. "I know there is a lot of poverty. It's already rough. That made it rougher than it already was."


--QB Stephen Curtis, South Sumter, S.C. -- A strong-armed, pro-style quarterback, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Curtis is a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Curtis threw for 6,765 yards and recorded 76 touchdowns during his career at Sumter. Curtis also rushed for 1,071 career yards.

--LB Michael Copeland, Valdosta, Ga. -- The 6-foot-0, 211-pound Copeland is a speed-rushing linebacker who has been clocked as fast as 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Considering FAU's problems on defense, Copeland could play right away. Copeland recorded 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and six sacks during his senior year at Lowndes High.

--WR Marcus Cunningham, Lakeland, Fla. -- Cunningham should add some depth to a solid corps of receivers at FAU. A two-star recruit, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Cunningham boasts a 34-inch vertical leap. Cunningham had 502 yards receiving on 42 catches and 5 TDs as a senior at Kathleen High.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously we're going to be a team that throws the football, but everyone knows you're going to win games with the guys up front." -- FAU assistant head coach Kurt Van Valkenburgh, on the Owls emphasizing the offense and defensive lines in recruiting.


2010 LOOK AHEAD: Florida Atlantic will go into the season looking to improve a defense that ranked 112th in the country last season, giving up 453.2 yards per game.

Senior quarterback Jeff Van Camp will look to build on the valuable experience he gained in replacing injured QB Rusty Smith for the final six games of last season. Redshirt junior running back Alfred Morris emerged from backup fullback last spring to FAU's offensive star during the season. The Owls are hoping to find a similar diamond in the rough this season. Owl coaches are hoping that star will emerge on the defensive side of the ball.

SPRING SNAPSHOT: FAU has yet to announce its spring schedule. Walk-on tryouts will take place March 15.


QB Rusty Smith -- Smith didn't wow with his showing in the Texas vs. the Nation practices -- which were held Super Bowl week in El Paso, Texas -- according to NFLDraftScout.com. He's projected as a fifth-round NFL draft choice, but still hasn't heard word as to whether he will be invited to the NFL combine.

TE Jason Harmon -- Harmon made several nice catches in the week leading up the Texas vs. the Nation all-star game in El, Paso, Texas. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Harmon is projected as a fifth-to-seventh round NFL draft pick.


--FAU fired nine-year defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza in December, replacing him with longtime assistant Kurt VanValkenburgh.

--FAU promoted former Owls quarterback Jared Allen from a graduate assistant to wide receivers coach.

--FAU quarterbacks coach Jeff Brohm left to take a QB coaching position at Illinois. Offensive coordinator Darryl Jackson will take over as QB coach.

Previous Report: 12/21/2009




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