ALBANY -- University at Albany head coach Bob Ford announced his 2013 recruiting class Wednesday with the signing of 21 players to National Letters of Intent.
The class hails from seven states, including eight student-athletes from New York, four from both New Jersey and Florida, two from Maryland, and one each from Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Virginia.
With five athletes already on UAlbany's campus this spring semester, the Great Danes welcome enrollees Dorian Polk (Lockport, N.Y.), Malachi Lawrence (Bronx, N.Y.), Michael Senn (Orchard Park, N.Y.), Ian Maltz (Millstone Township, N.J.), and Jack Knecht (Haddonfield, N.J.) to the program.
Polk, a transfer from Erie Community College was the 2012 Scholar-Athlete of the Year at ECC, as well as an all-conference cornerback. Lawerence, a 6'3" wide receiver, comes to UAlbany from Nassau Community College where he recorded 18 catches for 340 yards and four touchdowns in his final year. Senn, an offensive lineman out of Orchard Park led his squad to a 2011 State Championship, while earning All-State recognition. Ian Maltz, a kicker from The Hun School, boasted a 65-yard average kickoff and 40.2 yards per punt, while making 9-of-9 field goal attempts in his senior season. He was recognized as one of the top kickers in the country and could be an answer for the kicking void in UAlbany's depth chart. Lastly, defensive end Jack Knecht was an all-conference pick, recording 48 tackles and three sacks in his final season at Haddonfield Memorial.
Offensively, the Great Danes signed 11 newcomers for the 2013 season. At the quarterback position, UAlbany brings in Kyle Downer (Oak Hill, Va.) and Shane Sweeney (Phelps, N.Y.). Downer, a 6'3" All-State honoree, passed for 1,409 yards (116-187-4) and 12 touchdowns, while rushing 1,460 yards and 25 touchdowns in his senior season. Tagged as a passing quarterback, Sweeney threw for 75 touchdowns and 4,662 yards in his high school career, including 2,005 yards (128-171) and 35 touchdowns in his senior year.
In the running back position, the Great Danes will welcome local product Ryan Griffin, a standout from Shaker High School. Griffin rushed for 1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season, leading the Blue Bison to a Section II Championship, while earning Liberty League Player of the Year and All-State honors.
In addition to Lawrence, Brad Harris (Orlando, Fla.) and Austin Weeks (Durham, N.C) will join the current UAlbany wide receivers. Averaging 25 yards per reception, Harris made 28 catches for 704 yards and six touchdowns in his final year at Union High School. Weeks, a 2010 State Champion out of Hillside High School, made 36 receptions for 485 yards his senior season.
Tight end Kalief Joyner (Brooklyn, N.Y.) comes to UAlbany after a year at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, where he made 20 catches for 366 yards and two touchdowns. Joyner was also an all-league selection for the Christ the King Royals.
UAlbany will add four newcomers to the offensive line. In addition to Senn, Nick Nerolien (Lexington, Mass.), Chizi Mba (Union, N.J.), and JP McCauley (Queensbury, N.Y.) will look to make an impact. Nerolien, a 6'2", 285 pound force out of Lexington, boasted 44 solo tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, six sacks, and four forced fumbles in his senior campaign, while earning first-team all-league honors. At 6'4" and 295 pounds, McCauley was an All-New York State selection and Section II Class A First Team Offensive Lineman this last fall.
Defensively, the Great Danes add nine to the program. Along with Knecht, Mike Simone (Mahopac, N.Y.) will join the defensive ends after earning all-section, all-league, and all-state honors at Mahopac High School. Simone tallied 75 tackles, six sacks, and an interception as his squad's Most Valuable Player in 2012.
Defensive tackle DaeSean Timmons (Hyattsville, Md.) was a two-time all-conference pick, recording 74 solo tackles, 26 for a loss, and nine sacks in his senior season at DeMatha Catholic High School.
With the graduation of four major linebackers on UAlbany's two-deep, Marcel Ngachie (Silver Springs, Md.) and Martel Williams (Plantation, Fla.) will have the opportunity to immediately make an impact. Ngachie led Our Lady of Good Counsel to a 45-4 record and three WCAC Championships in his career, logging 71 tackles, 11 for a loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception in 2012. Also with a highly successful high school tenure, Williams led St. Thomas Aquinas to a 7A State Championship, while recording 99 tackles, four sacks, and an interception.
Ben Pagan (Highstown, N.J.), a versatile player on the defensive side of the ball comes to UAlbany from the Peddie School. Pagan was a first team All-Prep selection, recording 83 tackles, five sacks, and a safety in his final season.
In addition to Polk, cornerback Anthony DeLuca (Longwood, Fla.) and safety Neil Morrison (Miramar, Fla.), will look to contribute to shutting down the opposition's passing game. DeLuca boasted 103 tackles, including 73 solo and six for a loss, four interceptions, and 17 pass-breakups in his three-season high school career, as well as earning 2012 all-conference honors.
With the 21 newcomers in 2013, UAlbany will kick off a new chapter of Great Dane football. Coach Ford will lead the Danes into both his and the program's 41st varsity season, into their first season in the prestigious Colonial Athletic Association, and into Bob Ford Field - a brand new 8,500 seat stadium.