VALPARAISO | Valparaiso football coach Dave Cecchini has canvassed most of the country looking for recruits, and the first-year coach isn’t done yet.
Cecchini announced his first wave of commitments on Twitter throughout Wednesday, and the incoming 2014 class is a combination of players from every corner of the country.
The 17-member class contains four players from both Georgia and Florida as well as two players each from California and Illinois. Missouri, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana are also represented.
“I’ve been all over the place talking to recruits about Valparaiso over the last several weeks,” Cecchini said. “We met with them in their homes, and we got a lot of them to campus. I’ve been very proud of the number of guys who have come to campus who ended up committing to us.”
Cecchini arrived from Lehigh with plenty of experience recruiting non-scholarship athletes, and he put that experience to the test in the first week of January.
“We basically lost the entire month of December,” Cecchini said. “I was able to finalize my staff right before Christmas. We took the previous Valparaiso recruiting list and then took the one we brought from Lehigh, combined that, and then started reranking the players. We watched a lot of film before we hit the road in January. That was a huge process.”
Indianapolis quarterback Conner Smith (Perry Meridian) was the first commitment under the new coaching staff. Smith was looking at Valparaiso before Cecchini arrived, and the pair hit it off during their first meeting.
“Conner Smith is someone that I have a lot of respect for,” Cecchini said. “Dalton Stokes is another quarterback that is coming here, and I’m happy with both of them.”
Quarterback was a key need for the Crusaders after record-setting junior Eric Hoffman decided to forgo his final year of eligibility due to graduation. Rising senior Ben Lehman is the only signal caller on the roster with collegiate experience, having attempted 126 passes in his three-year career.
The incoming class is heavy on the defensive end with three defensive backs, three defensive linemen and three linebackers.
In addition to the two quarterbacks, Cecchini has added several offensive skill position players and one offensive lineman.
“It would be a disservice to the class to focus on any one player at this time,” Cecchini said. “We’re really happy with the group that we’ve got, and we’ve still got work to do. We’re looking at another 10 or 12 players to round out our class.”