The first thing that stands out to coach Rick Chamberlin about the Dayton Flyers football recruiting class in 2018 is the size. The 26-man class is the smallest in years.
Dayton had a 35-man class in 2017 and 38, 36, 38 and 28 players in the previous seasons.
“It wasn’t that we couldn’t get anybody,” said Chamberlin on Tuesday when Dayton announced the list of recruits. “The reason is we have so many returning players. We always like to keep our team numbers around the 110 mark. We didn’t need a whole lot of players at different positions like quarterback. We’re only bringing in one quarterback. We’re only bringing in one running back, one tight end. Those are positions where we have good depth, so why bring in another guy?”
As always, the class is heavy on captains (16 served that role in high school), all-conference selections (21 earned honors as seniors) and honor students (their average GPA was 3.5).
The class includes players from nine states. Twelve players are from Ohio. Here’s a quick glance at a few of the players.
Kettering connection: Alter offensive lineman Nathan Grey is the tallest player in the class at 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds. Grey met Chamberlin when he was in sixth grade. His grandma goes to Chamberlin’s church: Northridge Wesleyan.
“Our church always has a Super Bowl party,” Chamberlin said. “I would bring in equipment for people to try on and get a feel for shoulder pads and helmets and all that. Nathan’s grandmother brought him to our Super Bowl party. He tried on the Dayton helmet. They took a picture of us. Now the young man ends up coming here. I always tell them to send a picture along with some sports information, and they sent that picture of Nathan. I had never seen it. He’s grown up.”
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Springfield recruit: Jake Lyons, a defensive tackle who made the All-Ohio second team last season, will be the first player from Springfield Catholic Central to play football at Dayton since the 1980s or early 1990s, Chamberlin said.
“He’s so excited about being a Flyer,” Chamberlin said. “He came to about every one of our spring practices and watched us.”
Familiar opponent: Joe Durham, a defensive end from Bishop Fenwick, has a brother, Vincent, who will be a junior tight end at Davidson in the fall. Davidson plays at Dayton on Sept. 22.
Long trip: Chamberlin believes Kyle Finnick, a defensive tackle from Simi Valley, Calif, is the program’s first recruit from California since the 1980s. Dayton’s recruiting budget doesn’t let it recruit that far from home, but the coaches will take a look at game tape if a recruit contacts them, especially if it’s a defensive linemen because Chamberlin said that’s one of the toughest positions to recruit.
“His father’s actually from Wisconsin, so he’s familiar with the Midwest,” Chamberlin said. “He has an older brother who’s a student at Dartmouth, so moving away from home was not that big a deal for the family.”
Family connections: Michael Drobnick, a wide receiver from Saint Ignatius, is the nephew of former Dayton linebacker Ed Drobnick.
Logan Hannah, a defensive end from Valley View, is the younger brother of Shane Hannah, who played linebacker for the Flyers and graduated this spring.
One quarterback: Jack Albers, of St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky., is the only quarterback in the class.
“Jack, along with probably three other quarterbacks, we had rated high that we were going to bring in for their visits, and we did,” Chamberlin said. “Jack committed to us pretty early. In fact, he committed to us on his visit in January. We thought about adding another quarterback, but we never really had a commitment from anybody else who really fit, so we said we were just going to go with Jack there. How can you argue with a kid who won a state championship in high school?”