The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Football completes 2027 recruiting class, signs 26 new players

Among the Leopards leaving are defensive lineman Malik Hamm, who declared for the NFL draft. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Head football coach John Troxell rounded out his first full recruiting season on National Signing Day this past Wednesday by adding 26 new players to the Leopards’ roster. 

The new additions mark Troxell’s first step in shaping and building the football program.

“This was an important class, not just because it’s our first but it’s going to build the foundation going forward over the next four years,” Troxell said. “So for us, we felt that this was a group that we needed to be extremely talented to help our older guys achieve what they want to achieve, which is getting to the Patriot League Championship. So this class will play a big part in it.”

The coaching staff was primarily looking for size in the offensive and defensive line positions and speed in the middle and along the perimeter in the wide receiver position. Although the recruiting class is important, Troxell noted that the developmental process is much more crucial once the student-athletes are on campus.

“We were one of the smaller teams in the league in terms of size and in terms of weight,” Troxell said. “Now it’s a chance for us to really put an emphasis on getting our kids bigger and more physical as [they] develop.”

Outside linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator Andrew Seumalo also noted that academic success and resilience are key things they look for in recruits.

“You get to talk to the high school coaches and [ask] them what [the recruit] is like off the field, and that’s always important because adversity will eventually come their way,” Seumalo said. “It may be a little different than how it was in high school, where a kid may have had a lot of success, and then they get to the college level and they start to hit that wall of everyone [being] just as good as them. How do they handle that?”

There will also be four seniors returning to the team for their fifth year next year: linebacker and co-captain Marco Olivas, linebacker Billy Shaeffer, linebacker Blamassi Meite and offensive lineman John Olmstead.

“Some of our recruiting started by trying to get a couple of those guys who have experience to come back, not just from a football standpoint, but from a leadership standpoint,” Troxell said. “When you’re trying to develop a program, you’re always looking for leadership that can teach the other guys the right way to do things, not just on the field, but off the field as well.”

Looking towards the offseason, Troxell noted that the offensive line and special teams were particular areas of concern.

“We have a lot of things that we need to improve because we weren’t great at a lot of things. But the two biggest things are: one, getting improvement in our offensive line, so we can run the ball better and protect our quarterback better,” Troxell said. “And then really focusing in on becoming better at special teams. Our kick game was not very good. And we have to get better at that, and that’s getting our kids to buy into not just being an offensive or defensive [team] but knowing that the third phase wins you games.”

These new Leopards will have big shoes to fill as four-year starters defensive lineman Jyaire Stevens, defensive back DaRon Gilbert, running back Jaden Sutton, and wide receivers Jordan Hull, Julius Young and Joe Gillette have announced they are leaving the program. Stevens and Gilbert have already announced commitments to FBS schools Buffalo and Northern Illinois, respectively.

These departures also come off the back of Lafayette all-time sack leader and two-time captain Malik Hamm declaring for the NFL draft and spending the week in Los Angeles playing the National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl, alongside stars of the college football world and NFL coaches like Bill Belichick.

Both Troxell and Seumalo are excited for this new class of recruits to join the Leopard family next year.

“I think we found a bunch of guys that love the game of football and have a passion for it, and are also mature enough to handle the academic side and be able to stay on top of the time management skills that come along with it,” Seumalo said.

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About the Contributor
Grace Sanborn
Grace Sanborn, Assistant Sports Editor
Thinks hitting a ball with a stick outside for four hours is fun.

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