As a recruit, a coaching change can be your worst nightmare.
After spending several months getting familiar with a particular coach and his demeanor, a recruit has maybe two months to get comfortable with the new staff and its philosophy. The most recent coaching change at Florida Atlantic might not have been as bad.
There was the public relations disaster at the end of former coach Carl Pelini’s tenure in October, but the stability of the program since has helped keep this recruiting class together.
Interim coach Brian Wright led the Owls to four consecutive victories to end the season and then was passed over for the permanent position, which went to Charlie Partridge. Wright was retained as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator on the new staff, which gave recruits some comfort.
“It was a crazy period of change,” Coral Gables running back Greg Howell said. “Hiring coach Partridge was an excellent move because he’s a great coach and a great person. He cares about us developing into good men off the field.”
The defense was a point of pride for FAU last season, giving up an average of 276 yards against Conference USA foes last season. The Owls lose three of their four best linebackers from 2013, but reloaded with Tallahassee Godby’s Kris Harris and junior college transfer Richard Dorvilus. Both are three-star recruits who are about 225 pounds and turned down offers from BCS programs to join FAU. Dorvilus had 10 tackles and a sack in four games at Independence Community College in Kansas.
FAU also will welcome Cypress Bay safety Marquese Dudley-Gordon. The 5-10 defensive back is great in run support and good in pass defense.
The Owls offense was terrible last season with quarterback Jaquez Johnson supplying most of the yardage. FAU brought in a lot of help to support and challenge Johnson in the 2014 class.
Howell is a three-star recruit and one of four running backs committed to this class. He led Class 8A in rushing last year, but finished third in Miami-Dade County behind Miami Central’s commit Joseph Yearby (UM) and Dalvin Cook (FSU).
There will a strong competition in the backfield between Howell and Daytona Beach Mainland’s Trevaughn Rodriguez, who spurned offers from three ACC schools and was given a four-star rating by ESPN.
Rodriguez had a rocky senior year. He was ruled ineligible at Mainland because he violated a bylaw prohibiting players from following coaches from one school to another during a calendar year. When the coach resigned in mid-September, Rodriguez was ruled eligible. He ran for more than 1,300 yards last season and was Mainland’s starting quarterback for the last five games of the season, passing for 845 yards and 10 touchdowns.
However, he won’t need to play quarterback at FAU with the talented Jason Driskel committed to the Owls.
Jason’s older brother, Jeff, was the starting quarterback at the University of Florida before he was injured. Jason is a bit smaller than his brother, but the two-star recruit has all the tools necessary to become the future leader of the Owls. He has the size — 6-foot-2, 210 pounds — necessary to play quarterback and he has the intelligence to be able to read the defense, scoring 31 of a possible 36 on his ACT.
Driskel has enrolled early at FAU with Miami Central guard Reginald Bain. Both will be eligible to participate in spring practice.
Howell said he has not spoken with Bain or Driskel about their experience thus far on campus and added he does not speak often to other members of the class. He said he exchange messages with them “here and there to keep in touch.”