Rookies make up almost half of warriors’ 2014 football team

UW football introduced 20 new members — 19 rookies and assistant coach Joe Hagins — to the 2014 football program.

Interim head coach Marshall Bingeman said the number of new recruits this year is more than double the norm.

“When you look at our existing roster of football players that are left after this season, of our 47 men dressed, 38 to 39 should be guys that are in the room right now. The additional eight or nine should be freshmen, maximum,” said Bingeman.

The recruitment process, which began with provincial scouts and UW coaches attending high school, summer league, all-star games and practices — both in-season and off-season —  has already brought 19 high school recruits to the team.

“We get to know student athletes that we’re interested in. We begin discussions with them and the first question we’ll ask is ‘What are your marks like?’,” said Bingeman.

Recruits are required to have an 80 per cent average or above, guaranteeing the coaching staff that their prospective players have an opportunity to get into the university.

“Our biggest rule is to make sure we teach [our recruits] good time management and good life balance skills during that entire first semester and first year so that they transition as cleanly as possible,” said Bingeman. “That’s why we actually have an academic coach who’s only job is to work with our freshmen on time management, study skills, essay writing… all those types of things.”

Discussions via text, email, and Twitter were held with the young men, after which they were hosted at a Waterloo football game to give the athletes the chance to watch the Warriors at work. Recruiting sessions were held from November through March, during which the “Warrior Way” was explained and recruits were given the opportunity to sign their letter of intent.

“The Warrior Way is our commitment to recruits’ academics, athletics, and opportunities,” explained Bingeman.

All those invited to the training camp in August have a secured spot on the team until the following spring training session. The training camp consists of two weeks of non-stop training and meetings.

“It’s all about teaching them how to operate safely on the football field; good, strong technique; tackling, blocking, catching; and our system — how we play the game,” said Bingeman.

UW coaches expect to have an idea of who will be on their starting lineup about five days into the training camp. The 47-man roster changes week-to-week depending on injuries and performance.

The new recruits are not the only new faces to the Waterloo Warriors. Former Guelph Gryphons and Hamilton Ironmen coach Joe Hagins will begin his role as new assistant coach and defensive co-ordinator of the Waterloo Warriors for their 2014 season.

Hagins has also worked as a defensive assistant and special teams coach for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the same team that won him the Grey Cup in 1999 as a player. Most recently, Hagins was an assistant coach with the Canada Prep Football Academy.

“The kids absolutely love him. What we were looking for when we were hiring someone was a genuine people person, somebody who the kids could really relate to well, and had a good football knowledge base. He’s an excellent communicator and teacher,” said Bingeman on his right-hand man.

“I’m really looking forward to the growth and development of the team. When I look out there I’m very happy with the level of commitment and enthusiasm and effort that the guys are giving,” said Bingeman, expressing his hopes for the coming season. “I’m really excited about the level of skill we have coming out. It’s going to be young skill, but it’s good skill.”


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