Wednesday was Signing Day for high schoolers seeking to continue their football careers at the next level. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports on the University of West Florida’s recruiting class of 2018.
Fifteen players, 14 from Florida and one from Alabama, signed with the Argonauts as early as 7:00 Wednesday morning. While it remains to be seen how they’ll perform on the field, Head Coach Pete Shinnick says the group is already competing in the classroom.
“One thing I think is very unique about this class – their cumulative [grade point average] is 3.7, and their cumulative [American College Test] score is 24,” said Shinnick. We’re excited about this class, looking forward to adding a great group to the current team that we have.”
Add to that 11 players transferring from other schools, such as Gulf South Conference rival West Alabama; Navy, Troy, and Shinnick’s former school, North Carolina-Pembroke.
“We take the best available transfer [that] we think is going to fit in our program,” Shinnick said. “We’re going to hold these guys accountable; we have high expectations for what they’re going to do. So when we bring somebody in, they have a pretty good feeling as to what we’re trying to do, and how we’re trying to accomplish it.”
Much of the recruiting pitch this year was the same as before – promoting the school academically, playing in Blue Wahoos Stadium and overall life in Pensacola. But this time, there was an extra arrow in the quiver.
“A second-year program that makes it to the national championship game; that just adds a tremendous amount of credibility to everything that you’re talking about,” Shinnick said.
Pete Shinnick is the first Division II football coach to take a team to the national championship game after just two seasons on the field. No doubt, that’s drawn attention from some football programs which are going through a rough patch. And there’s already been speculation about whether or not he’ll leave West Florida.
“Not planning on it; it’s not something I’m planning on doing. We like it here; the family loves living here and really excited about our future and excited this [recruiting] class.”
Next up for the Argonauts is spring practice, which kicks off March 24 with the annual spring game April 21. West Florida opens the 2018 season on August 30 against Carson-Newman at Bayfront Stadium.