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FAU Recruiting: The hits and misses of the 2016 class

Charlie Partridge’s final recruiting class gave FAU their best player in school history but not much else after.

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

With Early Signing Period taking place this week, FAU football is on the verge of adding a new flock of Owls to Boca Raton as Lane Kiffin is wrapping up his third recruiting class as the head coach of FAU.

Before we look forward, let’s take a look back at the players Lane Kiffin inherited. The lifeblood of every football program is recruiting, and when you look back at the 2016 recruiting class, the final recruiting class that was produced by former head coach Charlie Partridge, the failures of the 2018 season makes a little bit more sense.

Take a look at the FAU 2016 recruiting class. signees who should have been major contributors as third-year players during the 2018 season.


Devin Singletary, three-star RB, Delray Beach, Florida

Rashad Smith, three-star LB, Homestead, Florida

Here’s what I said about Rashad Smith and Devin Singletary when they signed.

The 17 commits entering today were pretty firm as there was no panic that any one would flip but the last two editions were a nice surprise as Partridge was able to flip Rashad Smith, a former Syracuse commit, and Devin Singletary, a former Illinois commit.

Safe to say that I downplayed them just a tad. Smith and Singletary will go down as one of the best players in FAU history. Their accolades and contributions to the football program will live on forever in the record books as they both will be playing on Sundays in the near future. Charlie Partridge’s biggest wins during his time at FAU was getting Smith and Singletary to stay home and play for the Owls.


Kevin McCrary, three-star DT, Daytona Beach, Florida: Partridge had to fight off Duke and Cincinnati for McCrary’s signature. Expected to be an immediate contributor on the defensive line as a freshman, McCrary has been a main fixture on the defensive line during his time in Boca but not the star fans hoped he would become. Appearing in 38 straight games over the past three seasons. McCrary has 3 TFLs and 1.5 sacks in his career.

Brandon Walton, three-star OT, Seminole, Florida: Walton has appeared in 26 straight games and has played a huge role in FAU’s potent rushing attack. Walton earned an appearance on the Conference USA Honorable Mention Team this year.

Will Davis, three-star DT, Fort Pierce, Florida: Just like McCrary, Davis was expected to help strengthen the defensive line as a freshman. Davis has struggled with consistency during his time in Boca. Davis played in nine games in 2018 and has 4.5 TFLs and 3 sacks in 35 career games.

Korel Smith, three-star CB, Hollywood, Florida: Smith has appeared in 24 career games and has 1 interception and 3 pass breakups in his career. Smith really started to come on late towards the end of the season and should play a vital role in the secondary next season.

Davon Brown, three-star CB, West Palm Beach, Florida: Brown has been a consistent fixture in FAU’s rotation of defensive backs. In 25 career games he has 39 tackles and 1 forced fumble.

Leighton McCarthy, two-star DE, Apopka, Florida: McCarthy has been a dependable player for the Owls during his career. In 28 career games he has totaled 5 sacks, 12 TFLs, with 91 tackles.

John Raine, two-star TE, Miami, Florida: Raine has emerged as a really good blocking tight end who has reliable hands. Though he only has 18 career catches for 187 yards and a touchdown, he’s been a stable run blocker.

Hiden Gems

Chris Tooley, two-star CB, Orlando, Florida: Tooley was named to the Honorable Mention C-USA team in 2017 after recording 4 INTs, 1 forced fumble, a fumble recovery and scoring a touchdown. He’s tallied 5 INTs in his career with 68 tackles.

Harrison Bryant, two-star TE, Milledgeville, Georgia: Bryant has been the most consistent skill player outside of Devin Singletary. Bryant made First Team All C-USA this season as he had 45 catches for 662 yards and 4 touchdowns. In 2017 he was Second Team All C-USA with 32 catches for 408 yards and 5 touchdowns. For his career Bryant has 1,133 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns.


Steven Frank, three-star QB, Oswego, Illinois: Frank was regarded as the best rated signee of the 2016 class. After redshirting in 2016, Frank decided to transfer upon Lane Kiffin’s arrival. According to Frank, FAU staff members encouraged him to transfer so the Owls can have more space for incoming transfers. Frank left Boca Raton without ever playing a down.

Antonio Hadden, two-star WR, Fort Pierce, Florida: Hadden never played a down for FAU and transferred to Illinois State after the 2016 season.


James Charles, two-star RB, Fort Lauderdale Florida: Charles has been buried on the depth chart over the past few years behind Devin Singletary, Kerrith Whyte Jr. and Greg Howell. With the above three backs all slated to be in the NFL in 2019, we’ll see if Charles can continue their legacy as he could see a lot of looks during spring practice.

John Mitchell, two-star WR, Tallahassee, Florida: Mitchell is someone who just hasn’t quite popped yet despite having flashes of greatness in practice. In 19 career games he has 12 catches for 128 yards and 1 touchdown.

Ean Biacardi, two-star OT, Lake Wells, Florida: Biancardi has appeared in seven games during his career.

David Belvin, two-star DE, Palmetto, Florida: Belvin saw his first action as an Owl this season. In 4 games he recorded 1 sack.

Bradley Clement, two-star LB, Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Clement played in 6 games as a freshman but has not seen the field since.

Entering the 2019 season, the above players will either be redshirt juniors or seniors. Out of the 19 players signed here, there’s a chance that seven of them will not be heard of next season. Even when you factor in Singletary and Smith’s brilliance, that’s a really bad hit-to-miss ratio and it sort of explains the shape of the current roster.

The biggest what if from this class is Steven Frank. The position where FAU struggled most (besides kicker) had their best signee in this class and he never threw a pass.

In the end, Charlie Partridge’s final recruiting class gave us three All C-USA Performers in Devin Singletary, Rashad Smith, and Harrison Bryant, two Honorable Mention players in Brandon Walton and Chris Tooley. This class helped shape FAU football forever in bringing home a conference title and a bowl win. But the lack of reliable players has the FAU football program entering the 2019 season with a dicey roster.