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Florida Atlantic Football Recruiting: National Signing Day 2015

Florida Atlantic is fresh off a disastrous 3-9 season, but is still enjoying some success on the recruiting trail. Can the Owls close out the year with the top class in their conference?

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the 2015 season, Coach Partridge and Florida Atlantic are faced with a few glaring holes on the depth chart. The only way to fix this is to do just what Charlie was brought here to do -- recruit. I had my doubts about Coach P on the sidelines, and unfortunately, they proved to be true after an inaugural 3-9 season. But after an initial short period to put together 2014's class, this was Partridge's first real attempt at forming his own group of recruits.

Commitments (26)

Offense (13)

QB - Daniel Parr (EE)

FB - Kal-El Williams

RB - Kerrith Whyte

WR/TE - Chandler Dexter (EE), Tavaris HarrisonLadante HarrisRaphael LeonardJames Brunson

ATH - J'Quan Napier

OL - Tarrick ThomasJack BreshearsBryan BeckRichard Williams

Defense (13)

DL - Steven Leggett

LB - Jaye MinerAzeez Al-ShaairJacob DouglasKhantrell Burden

DB - Jalen YoungRodrick ArcherGerald RobinsonRichie KittlesKemar DownerHerbert MillerShelton LewisOcie Rose

Highlights

Before getting to the new names, one of last year's grey-shirts, Trey Rodriguez, will finally join the Owls and give FAU the running back depth it expected -- and needed -- last season. Rodriguez was last year's highest ranked recruit and should provide a ton of competition for Jay Warren in what is looking like a pretty crowded backfield.

Daniel Parr is the only quarterback committed this year and has already began taking classes. There was some interest down the stretch from Miami, but the staff made it a point to secure his commitment and get him on campus. Not only is he a local kid, but the potential pipeline to state-power Dwyer is a great opportunity for the future.

Kemar Downer is another area recruit (a great trend the staff focused on this year) that played every skill position in high school. We can look for him to play running back in Boca, most likely, and if not, the kid is athletic enough to see the field early in his college career.

Chandler Dexter is the other early enrollee for 2015 and he comes from Northeast Mississippi Community College with two years to play. This team was in desperate need of replacing Alex Deleon at tight end, but it appears the staff will go with a more wide-open approach than I anticipated. Dexter's blocking should allow him to start early on, but I am curious about his pass-catching abilities. Deleon was a minx down the seam for Jaquez Johnson and if Dexter can replicate that, the Owls should be just fine.

Raphael Leonard is a wide receiver from Starkville, MS that was late to the #Fab15 party. His recruitment really started to pick up around the time Jawuan Harris decommitted. The word on Leonard is that he received a surprisingly low amount of offers, but looks to be just the type of possession-style receiver that can play right away in this offense. He could potentially be the steal of this class.

Finally, the crown jewels of this year's recruitment lie in the defensive backfield. Jalen Young, Rodrick Archer, Gerald Robinson, Richie Kittles and Herbert Miller were all recruited heavily by mid-major programs and balled out for their respective high schools. The Owls lose D'Joun Smith and Damian Parms and their replacements will most likely come from this bunch. Although it appeared at one point that FAU wouldn't sign any of them, these five should be good to go on National Signing Day.

Rankings

Historically, the Owls have taken a "diamond in the rough" approach to recruiting. Under legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger, true freshmen rarely had an opportunity to contribute right away, so the immediate impacts of recruiting were nearly invisible. With noted recruiter Charlie Partridge at the helm, Florida Atlantic is finally poised to improve on their paltry rankings with a vastly improved 2015 class.

Year 24/7 Rating Overall Ranking Conference Ranking
2015 80.05 75 1
2014 76.75 94 8
2013 78.94 86 3
2012 76.30 82 4

Using 24/7 Sports composite rankings, we can see that this year's class is already shaping up to be the best in school history. Specifically, this year's class is stark improvement over last season that saw Partridge join the Owls one month before National Signing Day. He still salvaged a class that produced a handful of starters in 2014, but it is refreshing to see what he can do with an entire recruiting cycle.

NSD Outlook

As we continue on to February 4th, the Owls still have a few scholarships left to distribute. Here are a few recruits to keep your on eye leading up to National Signing Day:

James King (LB/Booker T. Washington/Miami, FL)

The linebacker was one of my favorite members of this class until Arkansas came into the picture. King could flip to the Hogs, but I have faith that Partridge can keep him in South Florida. Also, Arkansas may or may not have enough scholarships remaining. This is definitely one story to watch down the stretch. [Update: King received a late offer from the University of Miami and will decide between the Owls and Hurricanes on NSD. Update#2: King flipped his commitment to the Hurricanes and submitted his LOI on 2/4.]

Shelton Lewis (CB/East River/Orlando, FL)

Lewis is someone I could see replacing Rashard Causey in this class, but I'm not sure how many DBs the staff want to reel in this year. He could be surplus to demands. Regardless, his official visit to Boca Raton is on the 30th and FAU already has steep competition for his signature. [Update: Lewis committed to the Owls on 1/28. He will still visit Florida Atlantic on 1/30 and his commitment currently pushes FAU to #1 in C-USA recruiting.]

Ocie Rose (S/Booker T. Washington/Miami, FL)

Rose already visited on the 23rd, but is still committed to FIU. Another prospect at safety, Ocie may not be high on the staff's list, but the fact that he took an early visit to Boca leads me to believe his commitment to the Panthers is wavering. Call me selfish, but I would just like to him land in Boca at this point to spurn FIU. [Update: Rose sent in his LOI to the Owls on 2/4.]

Trenard Davis (ATH/American Heritage/Delray Beach, FL)

Even with late interest from Wisconsin, Davis will take a visit to Boca Raton on the 30th. His film is great, but the Badgers may be too sweet of a deal to pull this local prospect away from. [Update: Davis committed to Illinois on 2/3.]