After splitting the rights to the 2016 GLVC Conference Championship title, the Truman State University football staff has kept busy hosting recruits. Thirty-two players have been added to the Bulldog team for the 2017 season.
Seventeen of these are offensive commits. Assistant Coach Jason Killday is the offensive coordinator for the ‘Dogs after joining the staff last March. Killday says the emphasis has been mainly on this year’s recruiting class and the offensive line. The ‘Dogs lost several experienced men from the O-line, notably, senior Brad Wellman, who accumulated 42 career starts in his Truman jersey. Killday says not many guys who play collegiate football can say they have that many starts or even games under their belt, and he says that number alone speaks loudly on behalf of what the ‘Dogs are losing in terms of not only leadership, but also game experience.
“All those guys have been through fire, knowing exactly what to expect going into game and how things should go throughout the game,” Killday says.
A few standout commits for the fulfillment of these positions have been Jake Ellis, a 6’7” tight end from Rock Island, Illinois, Israel Griffin, an athletic Offensive lineman from Belleville, Illinois, and Jaylen Jefferson, a tailback from St. Louis, who Killday says provides a lot of speed to the offense.
Along with recruiting commits, the ‘Dogs also anticipate the debuts of the 2016 redshirt freshmen who took last season to get bigger, faster and stronger. Killday says he hopes to see big things coming from these young athletes who he says have lived in the weight room since they arrived on campus. Freshmen Dante Ruffin, Jarin Wallace, Cam Nisbet and Jake Koons are a few that have impressed Killday with the hard work they’ve been putting in.
Assistant Coach Kellen Nesbitt is in his sixth season as defensive coordinator for the ‘Dogs. Nesbitt says the defensive end of the team had the luxury of a relatively full returning roster when looking to fill sports in the offseason. However, a few key gaps were left from seniors Austin Zoda, a four-time, all-league defensive back, cornerback T.J. Fine, a four year starter, and Kyle Leckrone, a big part of the defensive line in Truman’s GLVC championship season.
Nesbitt is optimistic for filling the defensive holes left behind with the redshirt freshmen and commits being brought in. Junior Pablo Adame IV will also return this season after suffering a torn achilles’ tendon in the opening game of the 2016 season.
“I’m not sure how much of an immediate impact next year’s freshman will have, but the door is always left open,” Nesbitt says. “There are a couple of them that could have a chance to play as a true freshman, but I imagine many of them will end up redshirting. Final decisions with redshirting aren’t made until the end of August, after camp.”
Coach Nesbitt says recruiting is about 98 percent done, with a few guys still coming to campus in the next few weeks for potential roster spot opportunities. The roster count is about 117, and typically it is only at 100-110.