With an offensive line that included four seniors this past season, UMaine football coach Joe Harasymiak knew where his focus had to be with this year’s recruits.

And when national signing day arrived Wednesday, the Black Bears started the process of filling those holes.

There were five offensive linemen among the 16 recruits announced by Maine, including one from Denmark and another from Florida. Maine had already signed six recruits during the early signing period in December.

“We talked about how that was a point of emphasis for us,” said Harasymiak, who will be entering his third year as head coach. “This is a big class for us. We had a lot of seniors and (are graduating) a lot of them. This is a great group of guys. It was a lot of good work from the staff. We put in a lot of work, starting with spring recruiting and summer camps, targeting the guys we thought will help us and doing a good job of keeping track of them.

“We’ve got to find guys who fit our unique situation up here … Maine is not for everyone. It takes a certain type of individual to come here.”

Maine finished 4-6 in Harasymiak’s second year, 3-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Somehow, the Black Bears convinced Tyrie Francois, a 6-foot-6, 339-pound offensive tackle, to come to Orono from Auburndale, Florida. Francois apparently visited the Maine campus during a snowstorm and frigid temperatures.

Harasymiak credited offensive coordinator Brian Picucci and offensive line coach Pat Denecke with getting Francois, a three-year starter at Auburndale, on board. It helped that Jamil Demby, who played left tackle the last four years, recently received an invitation to the NFL scouting combine.

“We just spoke (to Francois) about our culture here and what we’re trying to accomplish, the special environment we can create,” said Harasymiak.

Other recruits include: Michael Gerace, 6-4, 300 pounds, from John Carroll High School in Bel Air, Maryland; Kevin Jones, 6-7, 290, from Bishop Shanahan High in Coatesville, Pennsylvania; Vincent Schell, 6-4, 290, from Oceanside (New York) High; Matthias Staalsoe, 6-3, 295, a native of Copenhagen, Denmark, who attended the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut.

In addition, Maine’s offensive line should get a boost from Tyler Royal, a 6-3, 335 pounder who transferred from Cheyney University and is eligible to compete starting with spring football.

Other recruits who signed Wednesday include:

Wide receiver Alphonso Foray, 6-1, 196, from Northwest High in Germantown, Maryland; tight end Shawn Bowman, 6-6, 230, from Howard High School of Technology in Bear, Delaware; defensive back Darius Minor, 6-0, 170, from Orange County High in Locust Grove, Virginia; quarterback Ryan Walsh, 6-3, 200, from Northport (New York) High; kicker/punter David Gelb, 6-0, 183, from Manalapan (New Jersey) High; defensive back Dymir Cave, 6-2, 180, from Sisters of Neumann and Goretti High in Philadelphia; defensive back Donnell Henriquez, 5-10, 180, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; linebacker T.J. Jones, 6-1, 197, from Aquinas Institute in Rochester, New York; defensive end Jalik Heyward, 6-4, 230, from Hodgson Vocational Tech in Wilmington, Delaware; and running back DaeJuan Sanders, 6-0, 206, from Highland High in Blackwood, N.J.

Grant Hartley, a 6-3, 220-pound quarterback from Edward Little High, also signed with Maine. Skowhegan’s Jon Bell, a 5-10, 170-pound wide receiver/defensive back, indicated on Twitter that he will attend Maine.

While Harasymiak spoke highly of the entire recruiting class – “We did a real good job of identifying guys who fit our school,” he said – he mentioned Heyward as someone “to look out for. He was a good get. When you watch tape of him, he’s very impressive.”

Harasymiak said the Black Bears addressed all of their needs.

“We’ll keep recruiting,” he said. “Something will happen, so we’ll keep actively recruiting. I think we did a really good job. The offensive line was a need. Now we need these guys to step up.”

Seth Aumann of Marshwood High is another Mainer moving on to college. The 6-6, 325-pounder was the center and captain for the Class B champion Hawks. He also played defensive tackle. Aumann will sign on Thursday with American International College, a Division II program in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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