LINDSBORG — Bethany College football coach Manny Matsakis appears to be taking the proper steps to assure that the Swedes will bounce back from last year’s 2-9 season.
Matsakis, who will be entering his second year, was hired late in the 2013 recruiting process, so this is his first full year of recruiting.
On Wednesday, he announced his first list of signees. Of the 39 players who have put pen to paper, 30 are freshmen, seven are junior college transfers and two are four-year transfers. He has decent balance, with 23 players on the offensive side and 16 playing defense.
“I am genuinely excited about the quality of these outstanding student-athletes that have signed to attend Bethany College in 2014," Matsakis said in a press release. "The opportunity to build upon the past success attained by former Swede football teams is what drives our coaching staff to continue to 'raise the bar' in the recruiting process in an effort to continue the championship tradition in Lindsborg."
Matsakis has especially concentrated on the offensive line (10 signees) and secondary (eight D-backs).
Twelve of the signees are already on campus, as the Swedes hope to make an immediate turnaround. They were 1-8 in the KCAC, but that victory came over Tabor, which qualified for the NAIA playoffs.
Of the players already on campus, two are quarterbacks and both could be huge impact players as they hope to revitalize Matsakis’ famed “Sting and Shoot” offense that he had hoped to implement last year, but injuries forced him to alter his plans.
Darius Banks is a transfer from Fullerton College, where he broke the school record for career touchdown passes. He threw for more than 100 touchdowns during his high school career in Inglewood, Calif. He’s expected to receive competition from Virgil Bridges, who played at Laney College in California. He threw 10 TD passes there, but he also can play wide receiver.
The Swedes also picked up help at running back as Javan Moore is a 5-9 and 175-pound scatback from Morristown, N.J.
Certainly expected to stand out is 6-8 and 330-pound offensive lineman Mike Rivera from Rochester, N.Y. His mere size should make him a player to create some buzz.
Other newcomers already enrolled at Bethany are defensive back Ijumma Armstrong of Los Angeles (via Montana State), defensive back Mikhail Barancik of Ozawki (via Hutchinson Community College), defensive lineman Tyson Parsons of Pottsville, Pa., linebacker Micah Collins of Oakland (via national powerhouse City College of San Francisco), defensive back Tim Hill of Buford, Ga. (via Garden City Community College), linebacker Lex Hubbard of Topeka Highland Park and Bryan Polio of Los Angeles (via Santa Monica College).
Matsakis, who numbers eight Kansas signees in this first list, is expected to announce more signings in the future.