The Valparaiso University football program welcomed its newest crop of recruits during Wednesday’s National Signing Day as 32 current high school seniors signed Letters of Agreement to play for the Crusaders.
Valpo is still in the process of rounding out the recruiting class, which is expected to feature approximately 40 players. The 32 players marked the largest total inked on National Signing Day in head coach Dave Cecchini’s tenure at Valpo.
Players will come from near and far to join Valpo’s program this year, as 11 states are represented in the recruiting class. The Crusaders continued to heavily recruit their signature states, drawing seven players from Ohio, five from Florida, five from Indiana, five from Michigan and four from Illinois.
In addition, Valpo will welcome players from Georgia, Connecticut, North Carolina, California, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
“It’s nice to have that many states represented in your recruiting class,” Cecchini said. “That says a lot about the visibility of our program. It’s hard to attract good talent from a long ways away unless they know of your reputation as both an academic and athletic institution. We’re excited about that.”
The Crusaders addressed their strongest positional need by bringing in nine defensive backs. The contingent of DBs who have signed with the Crusaders includes a pair of twins, David and Henry Hebda from Brighton, Mich.
“I’ve recruited three or four sets of twins over the years, and it’s always an interesting dynamic,” Cecchini said. “Some twins have to go to the school with one another. Some twins absolutely cannot survive at the same college. David and Henry were a case where they wanted to go to college together, but they didn’t have to. To be able to get both of them is really exciting.”
The recruiting class includes two quarterbacks, Trey Bilinski (Nappanee, Ind. / NorthWood) and Ryan Markoff (Kettering, Ohio / Archbishop Alter). Bilinski helped NorthWood to an IHSAA state finals appearance this season, while Markoff is described as an athlete who is dynamic with the football.
Bilinski is a former prep teammate of current Valpo freshman Bailey Gessinger (Goshen, Ind. / NorthWood), who received all-PFL second-team recognition this season as one of three players in the FCS nation with two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Valpo has also inked three local players in wide receiver Josh Benson (Dyer, Ind. / Lake Central), long snapper Carter Puckett (LaPorte, Ind. / LaPorte) and offensive lineman Nick Johnson (Portage, Ind. Portage).
The Crusaders, who finished the 2016 season with their highest Pioneer Football League win total since 2003, will complete their 2017 recruiting class in the coming weeks.
2017 Valparaiso Recruiting Class
Nicholas Antonacci, Cooper City, Fla. / St. Thomas, OL
Conor Beer, Sidney, Ohio / Sidney, WR
Julian Benavides, Rochester Hills, Mich. / Saint Mary’s Prep, DB
Josh Benson, Dyer, Ind. / Lake Central, WR
Trey Bilinski, Nappanee, Ind. / Northwood, QB
Cade Bishop, West Lafayette, Ind. / William Henry Harrison, LB
Tramone Duncan, Gastonia, N.C. / Forestview, DB
Andrew Gedrys, McDonald, Pa. / South Fayette, DL
Cameron Germain, West Palm Beach, Fla. / Dwyer, DL
Douglas Haugh, Redlands, Calif. / Redlands, RB
David Hebda, Brighton, Mich. / Gabriel Richard, DB
Henry Hebda Brighton, Mich. / Gabriel Richard, DB
Nick Johnson, Portage, Ind. / Portage, OL
Cameron Kelly, Stamford, Conn. / The Brunswick School, DB
Aaron King, Tampa, Fla. / H.B. Plant High School, DB
Alexander Kluck, Cedarburg, Wis. / Cedarburg, TE
Ryan Markoff, Centerville, Ohio, QB
David Mason III, Canton, Mich. / Salem, DL
Donald Navarro III, Naperville, Ill. / Neuqua Valley, WR
Nathan Orlandini, Columbus, Ohio / Upper Alrington, DL
Carter Puckett, LaPorte, Ind. / LaPorte, LS
Logan Pfizenmayer, Mansfield, Ohio / Lexington, LB
Jakob Rosiek Tarpoon, Springs, Fla. / East Lake, DL
Dilan Scargle, Dunedin, Fla. / Clearwater Central Catholic, DB
Laddie Skarecky, Naperville, Ill. / Naperville Central, LB
Trey Stablein, Delaware, Ohio, Olentangy Liberty, WR
Gavin Twigg, Acworth, Ga. / Allatoona, LB
Coleman VanSetters Rockford, Mich. / Rockford, LB
Samuel Vas, Cleveland, Ohio / Olmsted Falls, OL
Isaac Velasco, Naperville, Ill. / Naperville North, DL
Thomas Walsh, Plainfield, Ill. / Benet Academy, OL
Kevin Wright, Huber Heights, Ohio / Wayne High School, WR