Wednesday marked the early signing period for the class of 2022 national letter of intent which meant that some new faces would be heading to Moon Township over the next several months. Most FCS schools like Robert Morris will only get a few players to sign during the early signing window. They will get a majority of their players in the February signing period.
Five athletes inked their national letter of intent today, which consisted of four players on the defensive side and one quarterback. Pittsburgh Sports Now had a chance to speak with head coach Bernard Clark about the players that signed in the early window.
JJ Ruffin – 6’0 220 lb Defensive End Cincinnati, Ohio – La Salle
Ruffin, a defensive end, comes from Cincinnati, Ohio, from La Salle high school. Robert Morris was the only DI school to offer him a scholarship, and he committed to the Colonials program on December 8.
Ruffin also held offers from Tiffin University (DII) and Lake Erie (DII). “He’s going to be a real good player for us. He’s going to do great things for us just got to get him going. He has good speed on the field and can do a lot for us.” said Clark, “He’s one of those defensive ends that can run, and has great size and runs extremely well because that’s what we need in the Big South as we went through this year.”
Donovan Wilson – 6’1 200 lb Linebacker – St. Augustine, Florida – Nease
A linebacker from St. Augustine Flordia is versatile at his position. When asked about Wilson, coach Clark said, “He’s a long backer, a SAM backer, and plays nickel as well.” Wilson held offers from Culver Stockton University (NAIA), Gannon (DII), Missouri Valley College (NAIA), Weber International (NAIA), and St. Aslem College (DII).
Mitchell Robinson Jr. – 6’0 210 lb Linebacker – Hilliard, Ohio – Hilliard Bradley
The second player of Clark’s class to come out of Ohio is Mitchell Robinson, a linebacker from Hilliard Bradley high school. Robinson was selected to the Columbus Dispatch All-Metro first team this past season and the OCC Central defensive player of the year award. He committed to Robert Morris on December 9 while also holding a DI offer from former NEC foe Saint Francis, Notre Dame College (DII), Tiffin University (DII), Wayne State University (DII), and Lake Erie (DII).
Zach Tanner – 6’2 180 lb Quarterback – Winter Haven, Florida – Auburndale
After George Martin completed his final season as the signal-caller for the Colonials, that opened a whole can of worms for Clark and his staff to name their next starting quarterback. Before the season hits, expect a highly contested position battle for that starting spot at quarterback as Clark said, “We expect the competition to heat up with him [Tanner] in the mix and the other guys that are going for it right now.”
Tanner, who held one other DI offer from Stenson, committed to Robert Morris at the beginning of November. He brings in a valuable skill set that not many of the other quarterbacks had had when they graced the field of Joe Walton Stadium, and that is mobility.
“He’s got a little more mobility than some of the other guys.” Clark said, “Other guys haven’t really played a whole lot and just watching their high school film they have mobility, but Zach just seems to have a little bit more right now, but other than that it’s going to be an even race, we have got good guys that were left behind that are going to compete for that starting job.”
Tanner chose to enroll early, and it should be interesting how the quarterback position battle pans out the closer and closer the regular season gets.
Nasir Shabazz – 6’1 250 lb Defensive Line- Irvington, New Jersey – Irvington
One of the positions that needed to be addressed in recruiting this year was the inside presence on the defensive line. Clark did just that, landing Shabazz. “We’re missing that inside guy losing Izon [Pulley] and Supilani [Mailei] so we are going to need some more bulk inside there and we think he’s going to be able to come in we don’t know. He’s going to make an impact immediately but he is going to help us down the road and is going to be a strong backup for next year,” said Clark. Robert Morris was the only DI offer that Shabazz received.
Robert Morris finished in fourth place in their first full season in the Big South Conference posting an overall record of 4-6 and a 3-4 record in conference play. The early signing window ends on December 17. After that, the final signing window for all DI recruits is on February 2.