Tiffin University coach Gary Goff sees no value in cutting out the middle man.
The mentor, entering his fourth season at TU, believes his team has the skill players who can be some of the best in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
So with this year's recruiting class, Goff tried to go after some problem areas.
Mohawk’s Eric Maskey prepares to sign a letter of intent to play football at Tiffin University. His mother Deborah (left) and sister Brittany also are pictured.
"Very excited about it," Goff said of his team's 26-player recruiting class, which includes five transfers. "It was a goal to strengthen our team right up the middle."
To that end, Goff and his staff brought in eight offensive linemen, five linebackers and five defensive lineman.
The Dragons lone finalized area recruit was Mohawk's Eric Maskey, an all-state selection from this past season.
Maskey, listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, was a standout running back, punter and linebacker with the Warriors. The Dragons have him slated as a linebacker.
"I'm excited about the challenges, really looking forward to it," Maskey said in a phone interview Wednesday night,
"I'm always looking to improve my skill at whatever position they want me at."
Goff said TU liked Maskey's size at linebacker.
"He's a big physical kid," Goff said of Maskey. "He has really good size. We wanted to add some size to [the linebacker spot], several recruits are in the 6-3, 6-4, 240 range. We have to get better at stopping the run."
Maskey, who was one of the area's best punters, said he's talked to some of the coaches about giving that a try at the collegiate level.
"I asked a coach if I'd be able to punt and play linebacker at the same time," Maskey said. "He said 'Yeah, probably.'
"If they have to do a fake... that's where my running back skills can come in."
Goff and his staff especially focused on solidifying the offensive line. The coach said he believes quarterback Antonio Pipkin and running back Jerry Brown each can be stars.
"We've got a lot of pieces to the puzzle. Our achilles heel has been our offensive line," he said.
Goff talked specifically about two o-lineman: Columbus St. Charles' David Heil and Trotwood Madison's John Lewis.
Heil is a 6-foot-6, 330-pound offensive tackle.
"He's a big, physical guy, really good footwork," Goff said.
Lewis, a 6-foot-4, 213-pound player, played against Clyde in the Division III semifinals, then played in the state finals for Trotwood Madison.
"He's a guy we're excited to get here," Goff said.
The Dragons also added some players from junior colleges who already are on campus. One of those players is Tommy Pritchard, a 6-foot-3, 230 pound linebacker from Phoenix College in Arizona. Pritchard had 27 tackles, three for a loss there last season.
Which begs the question: Does Pritchard like snow?
Goff said when he brought him in, the linebacker said he wanted to experience all kinds of weather.
Talking over the phone on a day of another major snowstorm, Goff was direct:
"We're blaming this weather on him," he said with a laugh.
Maskey said he's impressed with the TU coaching staff.
Their demeanor towards everything was really good," he said. "I liked how they accepted the challenge to improve, and bring in kids who want to improve."
Maskey also credited his high school coach, Erik Baker, with putting him in a position to play Division II football.
"All my coaches, especially coach Baker, the way they've pushed us since I was a freshman, the attitiude has to be positive and to improve," Maskey said. "They were pushing us to get better every day."
The Dragons went 2-9 last season.