The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Leopards football welcomes 27 players on National Signing Day

The+new+class+of+players+includes+two+from+the+Lehigh+Valley.+%28Photo+by+Jay+Bendlin+for+GoLeopards%29
The new class of players includes two from the Lehigh Valley. (Photo by Jay Bendlin for GoLeopards)

Another recruiting season has come and gone for the football team, as 27 new players signed their letters of intent to join the Leopards’ roster on National Signing Day this past Wednesday.

This marks the program’s second full recruiting cycle under head coach John Troxell and its first since 2014 as defending Patriot League champions. 

“This class was important for filling in areas of need within the program,” Troxell said. “We not only needed to add depth, but it was crucial to add guys with great potential to take over.”

Although the team is retaining a considerable amount of talent, the coaching staff filled out some positions more than others. They were particularly focused on adding to the secondary, according to Troxell.

“Our secondary will return all four guys, but all four guys will leave in one year,” Troxell said. “Finding players who can develop and be important for us down the road helps build off the momentum and success that we’ve had.”

Outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Andrew Seumalo emphasized the importance of focusing on the physical attributes of players during the recruiting process. This allows the coaches to devote their time to the developmental process when the players start practicing with the team.

“Athletically, we look for things that we can’t coach,” Seumalo said. “Physical attributes like size and frame, as well as athletic abilities such as speed and explosiveness are what we look for in potential recruits.”

Seumalo and Troxell also stressed academic success and strong character as some of the key factors that can help prospective players stand out.

“Being here at Lafayette, there is an academic component to it,” Seumalo said. “We want guys who can handle the workload of being both a championship football player and an elite academic student-athlete. They need to be the right fit for both our program and the school.”

“The standard is the same for everyone in the program,” Troxell said. “The expectation is that they are great members of our community and have a work ethic to contribute to a championship team.”

The recruits hail from across the United States and Canada, representing 10 states and Washington, D.C. Two players from the Lehigh Valley will be joining the team: both wide receiver Mason Kuehner and offensive lineman Sean Kinney played under Tom Falzone ’00 at Nazareth.

The new additions to the team will have plenty of experienced players to learn from as well. Seven seniors have announced that they will be returning to the team for their fifth year: defensive backs Neriyan Brown, Semaj Cross and A.T. Ntantang, linebackers Preston Forney and Tristen Roundtree, defensive lineman Adam Port and punter Jakob Trestik.

Despite the significant number of new players and returners, the team will also be losing some major pieces. Sixteen seniors have announced that they are leaving the program. Among them are three of the team’s four captains: linebacker Marco Olivas, wide receiver Carl Smith and offensive lineman Michael Barr.

The Leopards are moving forward without several other starters as well, as defensive tackle Blamassi Meite and linebacker Billy Shaeffer will graduate while tight end Mason Gilbert and offensive linemen John Olmstead and Barr are transferring. Gilbert and Olmstead have both announced commitments to continue playing FCS football at Maine, whereas Barr has committed to FBS Power Five school Duke.

Both Troxell and Seumalo have high expectations for this new class of recruits and are excited for them to join the team this fall.

“They’re coming in here to compete for playing time, which will also make the guys already here get better,” Seumalo said. “Ultimately, I think the competition will bring out the best in everyone, and in turn, we’ll get a better 11 on the field.”

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Dan Sullivan, Staff Sports Writer

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