(STATS) - When people asked Delaware football coach Danny Rocco what positions he was looking to fill in his first recruiting class, he didn't have a traditional answer.
He was looking beyond the field as well.
"My most common response was that I wanted us to recruit the best available, the best possible student-athletes that were out there," he said Wednesday in announcing his 14-member signing class.
"I wanted to be able to recruit a group of young people that were highly motivated to achieve, both academically and athletically. And I wanted to be able to recruit a student-athlete in a class of achievement-oriented people. And I wanted these young people to be willing to work."
The Blue Hens are seeking to put extra effort into their storied program, which has slipped in recent seasons. To do so, the CAA Football member enticed Rocco to make the rare move of leaving behind a head coaching position in the same conference, as he did in departing Richmond after back-to-back 10-win seasons.
Delaware, the 2003 FCS champion, appeared in the national title game as recently as 2010, but it has finished 4-7 in each of the last two seasons - the Blue Hens' first back-to-back losing records since 1938 and '39.
Ten of the recruits will begin their Delaware careers on the offensive side of the ball, and Rocco said the breakdown from Pennsylvania (four), New Jersey (four), Virginia (three), Delaware (two) and Maryland (one) serves as a model for future classes.
Offensive lineman Carter Lynch (Mt. Laurel, New Jersey), who had an offer from Louisville, and tight end Braden Atkinson (Glenville, Pennsylvania), who originally gave a verbal commitment to Wake Forest, are considered featured players in Rocco's first class.
Delaware 2017 Signing Class
Braden Atkinson, TE, 6-4, 225, Glenville, Pa. (Boys' Latin)
Gene Coleman II, WR, 6-0, 195, Montclair, N.J. (Bergen Catholic HS/Milford Academy)
Luke Frederick, TE, 6-5, 225, Altoona, Pa. (Bishop Guilfoyle)
Artis Hemmingway, DL, 6-3, 260, Hillside, N.J. (Pope John XII)
Nolan Henderson, QB, 6-0, 170, Smyrna, Del. (Smyrna)
Mickey Henry, OL, 6-2, 250, Wilmington, Del. (St. Elizabeth)
Shane Hogarth, DL, 6-2, 252, Downingtown, Pa. (Downingtown East)
Shqipron "Ship" Idrizi, LB, 5-11, 202, Fort Lee, N.J. (Bergen Catholic)
David Kroll, OL, 6-6, 320, Reston, Va. (South Lakes)
Carter Lynch, OL, 6-6, 310, Mt. Laurel, N.J. (St. Joseph's Prep (Pa.))
C.J. McAnally, DB, 6-0, 190, West Chester, Pa. (Episcopal Academy)
Tylan McElhenie, WR, 6-2, 190, Virginia Beach, Va. (Ocean Lakes HS)
Thyrick Pitts, WR, 6-3, 185, Manassas, Va. (Forest Park)
Khory Spruill, RB, 6-0, 215, Clinton, Md. (DeMatha Catholic)