During recruitment, coaches look to take the best available player and fill their team’s needs. UMaine coaches work around the clock to convince young men to bring their talents to Orono.
The Black Bears lost three excellent players to graduation — Chris Howley, Garet Williamson and Josh Spearin — so the focus this offseason was to strengthen the offensive line.
UMaine is bringing in 22 players who signed National Letters of Intent, including four offensive lineman and four defensive backs, with the hope of reloading on talent.
“We are really pleased with the class, and the work that went into identifying the class by our coaches was very well done,” said head coach Jack Cosgrove.
The Black Bears also welcomed three tight ends, three defensive linemen, two quarterbacks, a linebacker, a wide receiver, two defensive ends and a place kicker. Fifteen of UMaine’s most heavily recruited visited the campus at the beginning of the semester, and seven ended up signing.
“Our players and coaches really did a great job of putting this together. The unfortunate part is we didn’t get all 15 of them, but that’s how you are in coaching, your’re greedy,” Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove reiterated that the recruiting staff attacks the offseason with a strict plan. Rebuilding the offensive line is the main concern, but no coach is going to pass up available talent.
“You will, at times, invest in somebody that isn’t an obvious need, simply because they are really good football players, and you want to get them into your program; but for the most part, there is a method to everything that is going on,” said Cosgrove.
Besides the losses at the offensive line, the Black Bears are looking to replace a core of linebackers that lost two key contributors: Donte Dennis and Troy Russell.
The Black Bears signed three players from within the state, including defensive back Spencer Carey of Fairfield; tight end Dakota Tarbox of Dayton; and Matt Cosgrove, coach Cosgrove’s son, who played wide receiver and defensive back for Bangor High School. Carey was the Pine Tree Conference Player of the Year and an All-State selection after leading Lawrence High School to back-to-back state titles.
There are many struggles to recruiting in Maine, but the idea of a close-knit group and the beautiful Orono campus are two easy selling points for UMaine coaches.
“You got to get them to know where we are. That’s the biggest challenge,” Cosgrove said. “We try to sell this being a true college campus: We sell the people part of things, the state of Maine and the characteristics that those people have up here.”
Over the course of his coaching career, recruiting year in and year out, coach Cosgrove and his staff have developed ways to find players, wherever they may be. Utilizing players who may not have been heavily recruited, selling opportunity, or projecting where someone will be in four years is a very important skill for UMaine coaches.
“Some of the guys weren’t highly recruited by other Division I schools. Those are skills we have developed here over the course of time as we recruit, to be able to really identify and project the growth of a young person from maybe a high school quarterback to a college free safety. Some of our best players over the years have come about that way,” said Cosgrove.
The most obvious example is current tight end Justin Perillo. Perillo was known for his ability on the basketball court in high school, but he has since developed into one of UMaine’s most high-profile players.
In total, UMaine will add athletes from seven different states, including six from Pennsylvania, four from Massachusetts, three from New York, three from New Jersey, two from Connecticut and one from Maryland.