Villanova wrapped up the first day of the early signing period for football with 13 players signed. Eight of those players are on the defense, which was the goal.
“What you try to do is look at your returning roster and access where you need to build some depth,” coach Mark Ferrante said. “We think we hit on the needs we targeted.”
The Wildcats’ class features four defensive backs, two linebackers, and two defensive linemen. The four additions at defensive back have brought excitement to the program because the staff has seen each of them compete at a Villanova camp.
Obinna Nwobodo and Jake Green are bringing a new look to the defensive line. Nwobodo is a big, physical player, while the short, stocky Green will play nose tackle. They’ll also be looking to add Ayden Howard, a 6-2, 270-pound defensive tackle from Texas.
“With the style of defense we’re playing, we’ve gotten away from that taller, leaner, wide defensive end,” Ferrante said. “We’ve got the thicker, bigger guys that can play the inside position from defensive end.”
Ferrante says he might have been around quarterback Ricky Ortega since the signal-caller was the ball boy at Coatesville. Ferrante verbally offered Ortega a scholarship as a sophomore and was more than happy to receive his signature.
Junior quarterback Daniel Smith, a transfer from Campbell University, changed the outlook of this year’s team by becoming a leader in the locker room and a dual threat who lit up opponents in multiple ways. Ortega shares some of those same characteristics. He has already organized a group chat with all of the recruits.
“He’s just a natural leader,” Ferrante said. “He’s a coach’s kid, so he’s been around the game his whole life. We’re super excited about Ricky and, we’re thankful he decided to join our program.”
One of Ortega’s high school teammates, Dapree Bryant, is joining the class, and he might be one of the most important signings. Bryant was electric wherever he played in high school, and Ferrante plans on taking advantage of that. Villanova would slot Bryant at running back, wide receiver, and in the return game as well.
“We don’t really list people in that ‘athlete’ category, but in a year where we didn’t have a lot of roster scholarship opportunities for wide receiver and running back, we figured he’d be a great dual-type guy,” Ferrante said. “He solidifies a number of positions with one scholarship.”
The Wildcats’ 13 signings to date surpass the 11 they had at this point last season. Villanova is looking to add about four more players by February’s signing day and as many walk-ons as they can.
OL Temitope Ajirotutu, 6-4, 300, Queens, N.Y./Eagle Academy
TE Mitchell Bothwell, 6-5, 230, Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal
ATH Dapree Bryant, 5-9, 180, Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville
LB Tim Ferguson, 6-2, 215, Damascus, Md./ Damascus
DL Jake Green, 6-0, 275, Ashland, Pa./North Schuylkill
DB Tyrell Mims, 5-10, 170, Philadelphia/Martin Luther King
LB Jordan Nelson, 6-2, 195, Palmerton, Pa./Palmerton
DL Obinna Nwobodo, 6-3, 280, Wilmington, Del./Delaware County Christian
QB Ricky Ortega, 5-10, 190, Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville
OL Jake Picard, 6-3, 290, Hope, R.I./Bishop Hendricksen
DB Ethan Potter, 5-11, 190, Chesapeake City, Md./Caravel Academy
DB John Rhodan, 5-11, 165, Elkton, Md./ Elkton