By JOSH SULLIVAN, SPORTS EDITOR
The Wildcats announced the addition of 17 students to the program Wednesday as a part of National Signing Day. Leading the way are two-star recruits Brendan Hill from Mansfield, Mass., Michael Balsamo from Central Catholic High School in Lawerence, Mass., Josh Kania from Cambridge High School in Milton, Georgia and three-star recruit Amechie Walker from Brunswick High School in Bronx, New York.
The ‘Cats also signed quarterback/defensive back Ivan Niyomugabo from Merrimack Valley High School. The Penacook native joins Balsamo as the two recruits from the Granite State, as Balsamo is from Atkinson. Niyomugabo is a three-sport athlete at MVHS, and will be the first graduate from the school to play Division I college football. He led Division II in passing yards his junior year and had 10 touchdowns — six rushing and four passing — in three games before being sidelined the rest of the year with a wrist injury.
“Ivan is a very talented, athletic quarterback prospect,” head coach Sean McDonnell said in a press release. “He has outstanding arm strength and has the ability to run the ball from the quarterback position. His athleticism will greatly help him become a two-way threat from the quarterback position.”
Balsamo was awarded Boston Herald All-Scholastic, ESPN Boston All-State and MIAA Coaches Super 26 All-State honors and played in the Massachusetts Shriners Classic All-Star Game.
“Mike is a very athletic and dynamic safety prospect for us,” McDonnell said. “He has great instincts and sees things developing very quickly. He is a sure tackler who will add depth to our safety position.”
Hill is a two-sport athlete at Mansfield High School, being named to the Boston Globe and Boston Herald in both sports. His junior year, the tight end had 53 catches for 811 yards and 10 touchdowns. With senior Harold Spears graduating and similar height in weight, McDonnell is looking to use him as a two-way blocking and pass-catching tight end, in a way similar to Spears.
Kania had 10 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 66 total tackles for a loss at defensive end on his way to all-state honors in Georgia. Walker had 46 catches for 634 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, and McDonnell plans to use him as a kick and punt return specialist.
Perhaps the most notable addition though, comes at the kicking position. Robert Kelly is a 6 foot 2, 180 kicker and punter from Bellows Free Academy in Vermont, and booted a 57-yard field goal to break the state record this year. The kicker position was one of the most glaring weaknesses for the Wildcats this season, as junior Christian Breda was only 50 percent during field goal attempts, and missed seven extra point attempts last season. Punter Brad Prasky was forced to take over field goal duties in the playoffs, hitting both field goals attempted and making seven of eight extra points attempted.
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