The Zips suffered through a forgettable season in 2010. First-year coach Rob Ianello had a nightmarish start to his head coaching career, losing his first 11 games before the Zips defeated Buffalo 22-14 in their final regular season game.
Akron might have finished the 2010 season as one of the worst teams in major-college football, but Ianello used his contacts and experience to land a solid recruiting class. The Zips signed 23 players, including 10 from the state of Ohio. Ianello concentrated on filling needs on defense, signing five defensive linemen, four defensive backs and two linebackers.
"We have met several needs in this class that should help us build upon the foundation we have established," Ianello said. "These young men come from excellent programs and backgrounds and we can't wait to get them on campus, as they join in the work of building our championship program."
Ianello sold recruits on his experience and energy and InfoCision Stadium. The Zips won just one game in 2010, but managed to beat Bowling Green, Ohio and Toledo in several recruiting battles for players in their area. The Zips signed five offensive linemen to shore up a weak spot. Last year, Akron struggled running the ball and sustaining long drives and keeping its quarterbacks healthy. They had just seven or eight healthy offensive line most of the season, and needed a quick infusion of talent after losing two linemen in the off-season.
"It was well documented about our inability to practice the way you want to practice," Ianello said. "Going out and shoring up both lines was a priority. We will now be close to two-deep plus."
The loss of talented wide receiver Jeremy LaFrance and running back Alex Allen was a concern for the coaching staff. The Zips struggled scoring points last year, but Ianello attacked the weakness in the off-season, signing three quarterbacks, two tailbacks and one receiver.
Quarterback Clayton Moore might be the most intriguing signee. Moore, a sophomore, is already enrolled in school. Moore gave a verbal commitment to Mississippi in June of 2009, but a dispute with one of his coaches caused Mississippi to pull its scholarship offer. Moore was a walk-on in 2009 at Ole Miss, but did not play and threw for 2,395 yards and 23 touchdowns last year at Gulf Coast Community College.
TOP OF THE CLASS
LB Nick Rossi (Riverside HS, Moosic, PA) -- A three-star Rivals.com recruit, Rossi was a two-year captain in high school and led his team to a berth in the state title game. He brings leadership to the Zips and a proven playmaker after recording 7.5 sacks and two interceptions last year.
LB Justin March (Danville HS, Danville, IL) -- The 6-foot, 205-pounder is a three-star Rivals.com signee. March is a tackling machine, finishing with 153 tackles in his senior year and 203 stops as a junior.
ATH Tyler Williams (Colerain HS, Cincinnati, OH) -- Williams brings speed to the Akron roster. The 5-foot-7, 160-pounder is the type of athlete that the Zips need to upgrade their athleticism. Williams rushed for 3,815 yards and scored 48 touchdowns in his career.
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