ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University football team didn't stray far from an already-proven formula in its first recruitment period under head coach Charlie Hall.
On Wednesday, which was National Signing Day across the country, Hall and his staff announced a class of 22 high-school seniors who have committed to signing NAIA letters of intent to play for the Raiders. They'll help to replenish a roster that will graduate the winningest group of four-year seniors in team history, with 41 victories — including nine in the national playoffs — to their names.
"I think the model at SOU will always be to recruit speed, athleticism and length," Hall said. "That was the case before I got here and still is today. When you look at our receivers and secondary, they're going to have at least two of those three qualities if not all of them."
SOU will be replacing 13 players from last year's team that executed an undefeated run through the Frontier Conference, made an appearance in the NAIA Championship Series semifinal round and finished 12-1 overall with a No. 4 ranking. In the coming days, SOU is expected to reveal a list of incoming transfer student-athletes meant to address the team's more immediate needs.
The freshman class is comprised of 12 players from the state of Oregon, seven from California, and one apiece from Idaho, Nevada and Washington — 14 to play offense and eight to play defense. Among the in-state products are five from the Rogue Valley: North Medford's Vincente Borja, Phoenix's Chase Courtney, Cascade Christian's Benjamin Dunn, Ashland's Anthony Swanson and Crater's Cade Weaver.
"The local players we signed who have a chance to make an impact on this program really stand out with this class," Hall said. "You're always looking to upgrade at all positions any way you can, but doing it with guys who want to stay close to home and be a part of this tradition is a bonus."
Bornja, a receiver, was an All-Southwest Conference selection. Courtney was a first-team All-Skyline conference and honorable mention Class 4A all-state selection on both offense (as a receiver) and defense (as a safety).
Receiver Dunn was a 3A all-state pick on offense and defense and a two-way Southern Cascade League all-star. Swanson was a second-team All-Midwestern League receiver.
Weaver was a first-team All-Midwestern League and honorable mention 5A all-state selection on defense (as a safety) and offense.
SOU's other signings included Jax Arnold (tight end, Churchill), Blayden Brown (linebacker, Rocklin High, California), Will Conrad (linebacker, Henley), Shalom Filoialii (running back, Overfelt High, California), Jusiah Gabel (receiver, West Valley High, California), Tyler Geide (offensive lineman, Rocklin), Jordan Godeny-Scott (defense back, Capital High, Idaho) and Bryce Goggin (receiver, Willamette).
Other signees included Kenroy Higgins (defensive back, Liberty High, California), Tre'Vonne Hunt (Vacaville High, California), David MacDonald (offensive lineman, Union High, Washington), Jemare Manns (defensive back, Madison High), Brad Mondo (offensive lineman, Willamette), Aaron Proctor (receiver, Fernley High, Nevada), Jake Regino (linebacker, Christian Brothers High, California), Ben Robbins (offensive lineman, Valley Catholic) and Noah Whitaker (running back, West Salem).