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2024 Football Recruiting Class Addresses Roster Turnover Through Transfer Portal

By Christian Hince | February 14, 2024

For the first time in several years, the University at Albany is focused on reloading rather than rebuilding after their best season in school history, something they looked to showcase last Wednesday during signing day.

Transfer Myles Burkett from Wisconsin is a new candidate for quarterback #1 at UAlbany.

Photo Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletics

“Signing day is always kind of a bittersweet day because you're excited about the guys that are coming in, but you're gonna miss the guys that have graduated or moved on,” Head Coach Greg Gattuso said in his opening remarks before running through a list of 21 new UAlbany players, which includes 11 transfers and 10 freshman.

Part of Gattuso’s recruiting process focused on the most glaring hole in his roster; the void at quarterback left by Reese Poffenbarger, who transferred to Miami after setting a UAlbany career-record 60 touchdown passes across two seasons and leading the Football Championship Subdivision in 2023 with 36 touchdown passes and 3,603 yards through the air.

One candidate for this role in 2024 is Myles Burkett from Wisconsin. Despite only throwing five in-game passes through two years with the Badgers, the redshirt sophomore boasts an accomplished high school career in the state of Wisconsin which includes two first-team all-state selections and Wisconsin player of the year during his senior season. While confident in his ability to make a range of throws and elevate playmakers, Burkett speaks humbly about joining a program that reached the FCS semifinal in 2023.

“That's their success, right? I'm just a plug-in, but I think you got some things I can bring to this ball club,” he said.

Burkett thinks he “connect(s) very well” with the quarterback he’ll be competing for the starting spot with, Trey Lindsey, who’s enjoyed the Wisconsin product’s addition as a competitor. “It’s been good, he comes from a place similar to where I came from,” Lindsey said. “I don't like guys who come in and mess around too much but he takes it serious.”

In his sixth year of eligibility, Lindsey has thrown only one in-game pass but has experience on Auburn’s depth chart from 2019 to 2022. Gattuso has faith in Lindsey’s time in football but thinks the competition could go either way. “I hate quarterback controversies, but those guys are going to fight it out in the spring and into the fall,” he said.

Aside from the need to replace a star quarterback, the Great Danes’ dominant defensive line from 2023 will see much turnover next year. Departures include FCS sack leader Anton Juncaj, who had 15, transferring to Arkansas, interior lineman Elijah Hills transferring to Wisconsin, and edge-rusher AJ Simon exhausting his eligibility.

Gattuso hopes the 2024 group’s depth can offset this loss of high-end talent. “We’ll have eight-nine guys that can rotate through, and that gives us a chance to play fast.”

Along with veterans Ghassan Chehade and Neco Eberhart who Gattuso named as players who could provide stability on the d-line’s interior, one of those competing will be Dasean Dixon, a transfer from Division II East Stroudsburg University who totaled 81 tackles across 23 games with the Warriors. The redshirt junior was impressed by the success of the front four for UAlbany, who was one of six schools that offered the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference first-teamer an offer.

“I think that was one of the main reasons why I came here, having a strong identity in my position group. I felt like that would excel my game coming in here,” Dixon said. 

Other portal additions on the defensive front included Chiebuka Aduaka from Merrimack, Jack Iuliano from Penn, Irahim Sano from the California University of Pennsylvania, and Marcus Winfield from Kent State. Winfield, a sixth-year player, previously spent four seasons at Delaware State and earned an all-conference nod in 2021. 

He’s an add who Gattuso chased during the last portal cycle, landing the 6’3” lineman this time. “He's a guy we've been trying to chase for a year, so here we really liked him and think he's a great add to our defense,” Gattuso said.

The class’s most notable freshman was local star Donald Jones who will play cornerback after throwing 18 touchdowns and rushing for 17 scores in his final year at the Christian Brothers Academy. 

While recruiting, Gattuso was impressed by Jones’ special teams play and physicality. “We're gonna play in your face man-to-man and if we're going to be who we want to be, we got to have corners that can cover people,” he said. “We think Donald's one of those guys.”

Gattuso hopes 2024’s recruiting class can help UAlbany respond to their exit in the FCS final four in 2023 by helping establish deep playoff runs as a standard for the program. “You walk into a new place with your team and might not go the way you want but we know what it takes to get there now,” he said. “It's a lot of work and a lot of effort and we're building towards that.”


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