CHICAGO – Paying homage to the common belief that success in football starts up front, Saint Xavier University head coach Mike Feminis was pleased to announce that the first six commitments of his 2013 recruiting class were all linemen, three offensive and three defensive. All six of the new recruits also have ties to the Chicago south suburbs as well. Headlining the group are a pair of defensive lineman transfers in Austin Copely (Grand Valley State/Joliet JC/Lincoln-Way East) and Marcus Maas (Culver Stockton College/Tinley Park). The four remaining signees are all prep standouts from the area including defensive lineman Josh Hickey (Marist), and offensive linemen Alex Zaleski (St. Rita), Kevin Lonergan (Oak Lawn) and Ronald Luce (Oak Lawn).
"To get a player of Austin's ability for the spring semester is huge for us," said Feminis. "Austin can play inside or outside and has the talent to be a dominant player on our level. He fills a big need for us on the D-line. Marcus is a nice January addition as well and the spring will be very important for him to make an impression on our coaching staff. He played both linebacker and defensive end at Culver Stockton and we'll find out where he fits best in our defensive scheme."
Copely is 6-3 and 250 pounds and played under Rob Zvonar at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, Ill. In 2009, the Mokena native was named the defensive player of the year in the Southwest Suburban Blue and was a second team all-state selection on the Chicago Tribune's high school football all-state team. He still has two years of playing eligibility left for his collegiate career. Maas is 6-1 and 230 pounds and played under Nick Johnston at Tinley Park. He also has two years of playing eligibility remaining after completing his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Wildcats of Culver Stockton.
Feminis is also impressed with the prep signees, who recently committed to SXU. Hickey brings a 6-2, 255-pound frame to the program and was coached by Pat Dunne while playing for the Redhawks. Zaleski is 6-3 and 275 pounds and played under Todd Kuska during his career as an offensive tackle with the Mustangs. Lonergan and Luce both played for Sean Lucas at Oak Lawn Community High School. Lonergan joins the SXU roster at 6-2 and 265 pounds, while Luce is 6-0 and 250 pounds.
"We were hoping that Josh would fall through the cracks with the bigger schools and that is exactly what happened," said Feminis. "He is a big body, who plays with great leverage and is physically ready to play at the collegiate level. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he competes for playing time right away. Alex is similar to Josh in that some bigger schools were in on him early, and fortunately for us, they fell off. Ironically, Alex's family is very close with the Ladd's (current SXU players, Tim and Dan) and I would compare Alex to Tim out of high school, which is a great compliment. Tim has developed into an all-conference player and captain for us, so we have high expectations for Alex.
"We are happy to have Kevin and Ron and they are excited to get the chance to play together for four more years," continued Feminis. "Kevin comes off the ball really well and has the size and strength to challenge for a spot on our O-line right away. Ron might be more of a project and will likely need some time to develop, but he is a quality young man and solid addition for us up front."