ASHLAND -- Southern Oregon University earned its name by landing some of the top football talent in Southern Oregon, signing six local players in its 22-man class.
Head coach Charlie Hall has his first signing class as SOU's head man, but National Signing Day is actually just the beginning of the signing period he has to worry about.
"Recruiting at a school like Southern Oregon or lot of small colleges does not end," Hall said, "We'll breathe better after tonight for sure, but it's a process."
Most of SOU's pitch came down to the family atmosphere they say they provide. Cascade Christian wide receiver Ben Dunn was blown away by what he saw on his visit.
"They have a real family atmosphere there and the players care about you," Dunn said, "The coaches do too."
Thanks to the vast number of Polynesian players on the team, North Medford star receiver Vicente Borja, who's from Guam, said he expects to feel right at home down the road from his home in Medford.
"I know that I can go there and relate to a lot of people and not worry about what I need to fix or change just to be someone else," Borjas said.
For Ashland receiver Anthony Swanson, he could walk from Ashland's campus to SOU's. He also will have Hall as his coach for the second time. Hall, of course, coached him during his first three years at Ashland High before taking the SOU job in 2017.
Cade Weaver, Crater's star defensive back and running back, who will play safety for the Raiders, has a family connection as well. Each of his parents went to Southern Oregon and now he's following in their footsteps.
"The best thing about SOU is just the family aspect," Weaver said, "In talking to Coach Gravelle [SOU Defensive Coordinator], after meetings, he said 'I love you' and I'm just looking forward to that."
Henley linebacker and running back Will Conrad, who will stick to defense with the Raiders, also joins the Raiders hyper-local class, which also includes a few players from just outside Southern Oregon. Coach Hall said this hyper-local class is statement on the kind of support in place for football players around here.
"One in 16 kids from every high school have a chance to play college football so the percentages are very low so to have this many from this area is a great statement for all the support mechanisms around the area."
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