FAU Owls add 15 players, including four-star transfer linebacker to 2021 recruiting class

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The FAU Owls had a busy first day of the Early Signing Period in the midst of preparing for their matchup against the Memphis Tigers in the Montgomery Bowl next week.

Florida Atlantic signed 13 players and added one transfer on Wednesday to its 2021 recruiting class, which already had three players who signed with FAU earlier in the year.

The Owls announced that wide receiver Kobe Stewart joined their 2021 recruiting class after previously signing with the program. He joins safety Peter Warrick Jr. and defensive end Jaden Wheeler as players who’ll enroll in January after greyshirting this past semester. Student-athletes who are greyshirted aren’t on scholarship, can’t practice and can’t play with the team. They have to wait a semester to become a member of the program.

Ultimately, FAU has four linebackers, three offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two defensive backs, two wide receivers, two tight ends, a cornerback and a running back signed on for its 2021 recruiting class.

The Early Signing Period runs through Friday, with the traditional National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

“All the guys that signed with us, I’m excited about them all, because they’re all needs for us [and] it’s going to help us from a depth standpoint with what we have already,” FAU coach Willie Taggart said. “A lot of these guys are going to be here this spring, which is going to help us as well. I think we answered a lot of questions with this class. We’ve got to finish up in February.”

Four of FAU’s signees are from South Florida. Taggart has said since he was hired last December that recruiting players in the tri-counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are a priority for him.

“Like I said from Day One when I got the job, there’s just so much talent down here,” Taggart said. “It’s not easy because everybody from all over the country is down here as well. It’s really important we take care of this [area] first. Dade, Palm Beach and Broward are our in-state. We got to make sure we take care of in-state and get the other pieces we need to help fill out a class.”

Taggart acknowledged that it’s been more difficult to evaluate recruits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has limited coaches from having in-person communication with recruits since mid-March.

“For the most part, you’re relying on the film you’ve seen,” he said. “You don’t get to see the kids in person, they don’t get a chance to come on campus and you don’t meet their family members — all of those things that plays a big part in the whole recruiting process and getting the total evaluation of a kid. You got to be really good at Zoom, texting and communicating with the kids and their parents.”

The lone transfer in the Owls’ 2021 recruiting class so far is four-star linebacker Keyshawn Greene, who announced in September that he was transferring from Nebraska to FAU.

The Crawfordville native went to Wakulla High School and was previously committed to Florida State from April 25, 2018, through Dec. 6, 2019. Raymond Woodie, FAU’s outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, was listed as one of the recruiters for Greene when he was FSU’s linebackers coach.

Greene decommitted from FSU one month after the Seminoles fired Taggart and signed with Nebraska the following week before arriving on campus this past June and leaving the program three months later. He said he plans on playing both defensive back and linebacker at FAU.

Another notable FAU signee was William Ford, a tight end from St. Pauls High School in North Carolina. Ford was committed to the Owls for most of the year before opening his recruitment back up last week. He also had offers from Boston College and Coastal Carolina, but ultimately signed with the Owls on Wednesday.

“After talking with him and his parents,” Taggart said, “this is where he wanted to be and it was good to get that letter signed and have him on board with us. This is part of what we go through.”

Here are the 17 players signed to FAU’s 2021 recruiting class so far:

— Julius Barfield; LB; 6-4, 220; Eau Gallie (Melbourne);

— Justice Cross; LB; 6-2, 220; Deerfield Beach High School;

— Anthony Earle; OL; 6-3, 309; Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale);

— Jahmal Edrine; WR; 6-3, 190; Fort Lauderdale High School;

— William Ford; TE; 6-4, 225; Saint Pauls (Saint Pauls, N.C.);

— Keyshawn Greene; LB; 6-3, 195; University of Nebraska (transfer);

— Courtney McBride; LB; 6-3, 215; Heritage (Conyers, Ga.);

— Jacob Merrifield; DE; 6-3, 265; Winder-Barrow (Winder, Ga.);

— Zuberi Mobley; RB; 5-10, 185; Northwestern (Miami);

— Jacob Pasley; TE; 6-4, 235; Sebring High School;

— Jaden Sandlin; OL; 6-6, 260; Tampa Catholic High School;

— Jordan Sandlin; OL; 6-6, 295; Tampa Catholic High School;

— Kobe Stewart; WR; 6-3, 180; Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.);

— Amari Wansley; S; 6-0, 175; Buford (Ga.);

— Peter Warrick Jr.; CB; 5-10, 185; Marietta (Ga.);

— Jaden Wheeler; DT; 6-2, 280; Berrien (Ga.);

— Jayden Williams; CB; 5-11, 180; Bloomingdale (Valrico).

Earle, McBride, the Sandlin brothers, Wansley and Williams are the only ones who won’t be enrolling early.

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