QUINCY -- Much of the drama that accompanies college football's signing day was taken out of the equation before Quincy University coach Gary Bass and his staff arrived at their offices Wednesday morning.
They weren't waiting on any final decisions. They just had to wait on the letters of intent to arrive.
It took quite a while to gather them all.
The Hawks put together their largest recruiting since any of the current coaches have been on campus, getting signatures from 70 players. Nine are transfers, eight of which already have enrolled and will take part in spring practice. The rest are high school prospects
"We needed to build competition and depth at every position," Bass said of his first recruiting class as head coach. "We've talked to our guys about the importance of special teams. They have to understand they're starters, too. You have three sets of starters -- offense, defense and special teams. Our guys are starting to buy into that.
"In order to do that, in order to keep guys off the field every waking snap, we have to build depth and we have to have competition. That was first and foremost."
There was no greater need for that than along the defensive front.
Quincy ranked last in the Great Lakes Valley Conference in rushing defense and total defense last season and finished the year with just 15 sacks, seven of which came from linebackers.
So the Hawks brought in two junior college transfers -- 6-foot-1, 240-pound James Perryman from Moorpark (Calif.) College in and 6-1, 230-pound Kris Sutton from Sierra (Calif.) College -- and signed 10 high school defensive linemen, including Jordan Wiggins (6-5, 225) from Plant City, Fla.
"We had to get defensive ends," Bass said. "We had to fill that position. Our interior is going to be pretty good, but this defensive end class that we signed has the chance to be pretty special."
"Getting those two transfers was huge. It allows us to bring them in and teach them and let them grow, instead of just having to throw them in to play."
Pair them with senior Jeffrey Hinkle and sophomore Marcel Scott and the defensive front takes on a whole new look.
"It was big to get these guys through recruiting because we didn't have a lot of bodies up front," QU defensive coordinator Sean Kelly said. "We have really special guys with some really good length."
The Hawks also addressed the need for depth at linebacker, signing nine. Marvion Harris, a 6-1, 220-pounder from Spoto, Fla., and Jackson Connell, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Quincy Notre Dame, will make an impact.
The Rice brothers from Parkway Central in St. Louis -- Cory is a 6-foot, 225-pound defensive lineman and Devin is a 6-foot, 215-pound linebacker -- also could play immediately.
"You get depth," Bass said. "And you get depth fast."
The Hawks added depth and got longer and more athletic in the secondary as well. A.J. Hardin (6-3, 185) from SLUH in St. Louis and Kim Mitchell III and Kim Mitchell IV -- 6-3, 200-pound twins from Jefferson, Fla. -- will make throwing over the top of QU's defense more difficulty. Quincy High School quarterback Logan Ross signed with the Hawks and is listed as a potential defensive back, but he could mold himself into a player at several spots.
"Linebacker and defensive back are positions you know you're going to find special teams players," Bass said. "They're long. They're athletic. They can run."
The Hawks went after the same kind of players on the offensive side.
Moreso, the Hawks wanted to become explosive. So they added two transfers at wide receiver, two at running back and one at quarterback.
Sierra College's Josh Porter, a 6-3, 200-pound pass catcher, already is on campus and will be joined by James Felix, a 5-10, 185-pounder from Jones, Fla., Gabriel Bryant, a 6-3, 190-pounder from Jefferson, Fla., and Melvin Brock, a 5-11, 180-pounder from Belleville (Ill.) Althoff in the fall.
"If you don't have people who can separate and make that 1-on-1 move, it puts you in a tough position," Bass said. "We have more of that ability now."
Figuring out who is going to throw them the ball is critical.
The Hawks signed five quarterbacks, including Sierra College transfer Justus Spillner, who will challenge returning starter Andrew Rund and returning backup Trey Mosley for playing time. Tionne Harris, a 5-10, 190-pound athletic signal-caller from St. Louis Vianney, and Justice Ferrier, a 6-foot, 180-pound gunslinger from Williamsville, Ill., factor into the mix as well.
Quincy was last in the GLVC in passing offense last season, averaging 144 yards per game.
"The one thing we've talked about is versatility with our wideouts and our fullback/H-back/tight end positions," offensive coordinator Khanis Hubbard said. "I feel really good about the ability of our wide receivers to play inside and out."
Becoming more dynamic in the backfield helps, too.
Oscee Calhoun, a 5-10, 215-pound bruiser from Feather River Community College in Quincy, Calif., and Anthony Riley, a 6-foot, 219-pound back who redshirted his freshman year at QU in 2016 and played at Evangel last season, give the Hawks toughness and experience at running back. Darries Rainey, a 5-7, 190-pounder from St. Louis Trinity, and David Tabakovic, a 6-foot, 250-pounder from Durant, Fla., could see snaps immediately as well.
"We're always going to run the ball at a high level," Bass said. "These guys will give us the chance to do that."
BY THE NUMBERS
Here is a closer look at the Quincy University football team's 2018 recruiting class:
1 -- Kicker
2 -- Tight ends/H-backs
2.85 -- Average grade-point average
4 -- Fullbacks
5 -- Quarterbacks
5 -- Players from California
7 -- Running backs
8 -- Offensive linemen
9 -- Linebackers
9 -- Defensive backs
12 -- Defensive linemen
13 -- Wide receivers
14 -- Players from Florida
20 -- Average ACT score
25 -- Players from Missouri
26 -- Players from Illinois
40 -- Captains of high school team
70 -- Total number of signees