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Rockets add eight recruits to program

By Tony Bibler
On January 13, 2011

National Signing Day for incoming freshmen isn't until Feb. 2, but Rockets head coach Tim Beckman has already added eight players who will join the team this spring

"We are very excited to add these eight young men to the Rocket family," Beckman said. "To be able to go through our off-season workouts and then later participate in spring practices will be a huge advantage for them."

The student-athletes who will contribute on the field in 2011 are linebacker Jordan Barnes, defensive lineman Keenan Gibbs, cornerback John James, tight end Colby Kratch, defensive lineman Phil Lewis and cornerback Keith Suggs. Gibbs, James and Suggs are incoming freshman while Barnes, Kratch and Lewis transferred from junior colleges.

Two other recruits, Vladimir Emlien and Jordan Haden, transferred from Michigan and Florida, respectively. Both will have to sit out a year per NCAA rules before their debuts with Toledo in 2012.

Emlien was ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's 14th ranked safety coming out of high school before signing a letter of intent to Michigan and will have two years of eligibility left in his collegiate career.

"Vlad has speed and size, and he's a big-time hitter," Beckman said. "He's been at Michigan for the two seasons, so he understands what Division I football is all about. He could be a big asset to our defense."

Jordan, younger brother of Cleveland Browns rookie Joe Haden, was ranked by Rivals.com as the 12th best safety in the nation before agreeing to join his brother at Florida. Haden, who did not accumulate any time on the field for the Gators in 2010, will transfer to Toledo with three years left of eligibility.

"I knew about Jordan through Urban Meyer," Beckman said. "Coach Meyer had only great things to say about Jordan. He's a great kid from a great family. He has the size and speed needed to be a key player in our defensive backfield."

These recruits will attempt to replicate the success of offensive lineman Kevin Kowalski, linebacker Archie Donald and the nine other seniors that helped the Rockets finish the 2010 season with an 8-4 record and a spot in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

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