JM Rieger, Sports Editor

The Miami University football team signed 25 players to national letters of intent on National Signing Day, Feb. 1st, including seven three-star players according to ESPN.com, five more than last year.

Of the 25 new RedHawks, 12 hail from Ohio, including nine from the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.

“Ohio was really a focus for us in seeking players,” Head Coach Don Treadwell said. “We’re really fortunate to have such a fertile area in our own back yard. These 25 outstanding young men comprise a special class who our fans will be excited about.”

Miami has the 75th-ranked recruiting class of all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools (formerly Division I) and the third best recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference, behind the University of Toledo and Temple University, according to Scouts.com.

Miami targeted a variety of positions with its new class, including bringing in four offensive linemen and three running backs after the Red and White finished the 2011 season ranked last in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in rushing.

The RedHawks also picked up five defensive linemen and three linebackers following the departure of linebackers Ryan Kennedy and Jerrell Wedge and of defensive linemen Will Diaz and Jordain Brown.

“We’re bringing in lineman on both sides of the ball who have filled our size requirements and possess athleticism,” Treadwell said. “We have big skill position players — running backs, tight ends, linebackers — guys who have outstanding range and can run and strike you. Unquestionably, we’ve improved our depth by bringing in young men who have the ability to jump into the two-deep right away.”

Expect running backs Jack Snowball of Wadsworth, Ohio and Jamire Westbrook of South Lebanon, Ohio to compete for the starting running back position this offseason. Westbrook is a three-star recruit who was selected by the Cincinnati Enquirer as the Ohio Division II High School Player of the Year in 2011, while Snowball was Ohio’s Division I co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2011.

“When you rush for 2,500 yards and score 30 touchdowns, it’s difficult to be a hidden commodity,” Treadwell said of Snowball. “Jack is a north and south kind of runner who plays at pad level, has great feet in the hole and has good vision. The thing I like most about him is that with all of the runs he’s made, he’s never had one fumble.”

The ‘Hawks also picked up key offensive linemen, including Brandyn Cook of Cincinnati, who should help to solidify an offensive-line that gave up 44 sacks last season.

In addition to their Ohio signees, Miami also had nine players from the football-rich states of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

However, as history has shown, players must ultimately prove themselves on the field. Some of Miami’s top performers were not highly touted coming out of high school, including sophomore cornerback Dayonne Nunley, freshman defensive back Brison Burris and freshman wide receiver David Frazier.

Ultimately, Miami University Athletic Director Brad Bates notes how it is important to identify athletes who will also succeed as students at Miami.

“The most important part of the process is trying to identify students who will thrive in the culture and environment of Miami University,” Bates said. “I think these [recruits] will absolutely thrive in the environment of Miami University thanks to what the coaches have done.”

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