EDMOND — First-year Central Oklahoma football coach Nick Bobeck is more excited about who has joined the NCAA Division II program than disappointed with those who have departed.
Two key returnees from the defensive backfield, Creadell Pennon and Keno Meadows, have left the program for unspecified reasons. So has wide receiver Dolphin Davis, who was expected back after suffering a major knee injury during spring ball 2011.
But Bobeck, a former Bronchos fullback who was named head coach on Jan. 4, added right-away-difference-makers in a small recruiting window to complement a strong core of players back from an underachieving 2-9 team.
*Adrian Nelson quarterbacked Bobeck's national championship team in 2010 as a freshman at Navarro Junior College, Texas. Nelson will begin fall drills Tuesday as UCO's starter. He threw for a school-record 3,754 yards and 33 touchdowns as a sophomore last season.
*Nelson's No. 1 target last season at wide receiver, Marquez Clark, decided not to join Kansas State as expected and instead signed with UCO. Considered by some recruiting sites as one of the country's top junior college recruits, Clark caught 98 passes last season for 1,639 yards and 15 TDs.
*Another former Navarro stud, 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive lineman Toby Jackson, transferred to UCO after playing nine games last season for Central Florida. Jackson, who will be a senior, was named Most Valuable Player for the 2010 juco national championship game after compiling two sacks and two other tackles for minus-yards. Jackson originally signed with Georgia out of high school.
*Add big-time returnees from last season's Central team — Harlon Hill Trophy candidate Josh Birmingham at running back; exceptional wideouts Tucker Holland, Christian Hood and Daniel Morrell; and defensive linemen Sam Moses and Herbert Byrd — and the Bronchos might have a pretty good club.
“We're going to try and build off the spring (practices),” Bobeck said Wednesday during UCO Media Day at Wantland Stadium. “We went through the spring trying to establish a mindset, trying to establish a culture of returning to winning ways. We have guys who have bought in to what we want to do here.
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CENTRAL OKLAHOMA SCHEDULE
Aug. 30: Missouri Southern, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8: at Pittsburg State (Kan.), 6 p.m.
Sept. 15: at Emporia State (Kan.), 1 p.m.
Sept. 22: Washburn (Kan.), 2:35 p.m.
Sept. 29: at Missouri Western, 6 p.m.
Oct. 6: Northwest Missouri State, 1 p.m.
Oct. 13: at Central Missouri, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: at Lincoln (Mo.), 2 p.m.
Nov. 3: Southwest Baptist (Mo.), 2 p.m.
Nov. 10: Northeastern State, 1 p.m.
Home games are at Wantland Stadium on the UCO campus.