(Via Greg Spiller's Twitter @GregSpiller14)
After a loss on a snowy night in Missoula, the Delaware coaching staff turned its focus to the offseason. Throughout the past several months, we've seen a number of players announce on social media their commitment to be Blue Hens. With early signing day for college football teams kicking off on December 20th, I spoke with the athletes that officially signed their letter of intent to the University of Delaware this week.
Delaware Football has officially announced that they have added a piece to each positional group in this early signing window. Finalized this week as Blue Hens include three-star quarterback Braden Streeter (Christ Presbyterian Academy/Nashville, TN), running back Greg Spiller (John Champe/Aldie, VA), wide receiver Nick Tyree (Thomas Dale/Chester, VA), tight end Jackson Whitacre (Shore Regional/West Long Branch, NJ), three-star offensive lineman Tyler Burnham (Red Bank Catholic/Red Bank, NJ), defensive lineman Kaeden Singleton (Canon-McMillan/Canonsburg, PA), linebacker Collin Gallagher (Middletown South/Middletown Township, NJ), and three-star defensive back Meikhi Cuttino (Paramus Catholic/Paramus, NJ). Let's get to know a little bit of each of them below:
Streeter and the CPA Lions had an outstanding turnaround after an 8-6 finish in 2022. The team went on a 12-game win streak to secure the TSSAA Division II Class AA State Championship, the program's 6th state title and first since 2020. Streeter as a senior had 1,811 yards thrown with a 57.1% completion rate and a TD-INT ratio of 22-3. Through his 29-game, 3-year career as a Lion, he finished with over 3,000 passing yards and 34 combined touchdowns. The statistic most important to Braden? A win in the State Championship. Asking him of what was different about this season, Streeter told me, "We definitely tried to focus on playing in the moment and not thinking ahead. We had a great group of seniors that were locked in the whole season, and I think the underclassmen really bought in as well." Streeter, at 6'2", 195 pounds, really stands out on his tape in both throwing the deep ball and being able to throw on rollouts to either side of the field.
Streeter selected Delaware over seven other reported offers, including Sun Belt's Appalachian State and other CAA schools Richmond and Elon. "Delaware started recruiting me in the early spring of my junior year and I went on an unofficial visit and a couple days later they offered me. I was very excited about this offer because even from the outside looking in, UD looked like a great program that I was very interested in." Making the move from Tennessee to Delaware was not something that hindered his feelings for the Blue Hens. "I have a bunch of family that live up there, so the decision was not as hard as it might have been because of how comfortable I am with the area and people up there." Streeter comes from an athletic background, with his father having also played college football and his mother having played college basketball. Braden was also the game MVP for a state championship on the lacrosse field last spring, scoring a hat trick in the finals. Until his arrival for the first summer session, Streeter will be working on all parts of his game mechanically. "My decision to commit was because of the staff and the amazing culture and feel of UD football."
Delaware quarterbacks coach Sean Goldrich claims Streeter as "a winner and elite competitor. His arm talent is special, and his athletic ability will be a problem for defenses. We are fired up to welcome him to the Blue Hen family." Carty credits his coaching staff, specifically Goldrich, as it's hard to hold onto a 3-star quarterback when he is committed to you for so long. He states that, "the more I was surrounded around him, the more excited I was that he was going to be a Hen. I think he's got a really bright future, very high potential."
Greg Spiller, receiving Offensive Player of the Year at the district, county, and regional levels, recorded 1,433 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns in his senior season at John Champe High School. Showcasing his ability to be a playmaker at any phase of the offense, Spiller averaged 6.1 yards per carry and 75 receiving yards per game in 2023. Delaware tight ends coach Garrett Smith first reached out to Spiller in March of this year, eventually leading to an offer extended to him in May. "Delaware stood out because I felt welcomed by all the coaches and felt an immediate connection with them as soon as I met them." Spiller eventually committed to be a Hen on July 13th, beating out his twelve other offers, including notable programs in Missouri, Michigan State, and Conference USA Champion Liberty.
Strong from both the backfield and out wide as a receiver, Spiller will join the running back room in the summer when he enrolls on June 2nd. "Going into my senior year, I worked on my hands most of all because running backs at Delaware aren't there just to take handoffs." Spiller proved he can do just that with 900 yards receiving in his last year as a Knight. "I am looking to improve my strength and vision before my first season in the 302," Spiller mentioned.
Delaware running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Andrew Pierce confirms, "Greg's playmaking ability is exactly what we want in our running backs. He has the ability to score wherever he lines up on the field." Carty adds, "we love versatility at the running back spot, and he is one of those guys... physically capable of taking those hits in the backfield but can also line up out wide and give a different matchup in the slot at times. Really smooth hands and explosiveness to finish runs and into the end zone."
Nick Tyree is the second playmaker on offense recruited from Virginia. A four-year contributor at the varsity level at Thomas Dale High School, Nick finished his high school career with 1,076 rushing yards, 1,310 receiving yards, 1,132 kick/punt returns yards, and 28 total touchdowns. Standing at 5'9", speed stands out on his tape. Rated as a top-25 sprinter nationally, Nick won the Virginia 6A 55-meter state championship with his personal-best time 6.4 seconds last March. Tyree's big play ability led to 17 touchdowns and 1,947 all-purpose yards in 2023. Tyree was named the Region 6A Offensive Player of the Year, along with additional regional and county honors as a running back, receiver, and returner. Tyree first heard from the Delaware staff before his junior season and eventually committed to the program on July 20th over several Division I programs. "Things that stood out for me were the campus, the facilities, and the coaching staff."
Football runs in the Tyree family. Nick's older brother, Chris, was a 5-star recruit out of high school and recorded 3,284 all-purpose yards and 17 touchdowns in his four years as a Golden Domer of Notre Dame. Chris recently entered the transfer portal and chose to spend his last year of eligibility back home at the University of Virginia. When asking Nick if Chris gave him any advice during his own recruiting process, Nick shared, "He said to try to find a place that wants you as much as you want them." Nick also has a twin brother, Jon, who played as a defensive back at Thomas Dale and recorded 41 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 8 pass deflections in his 4-year career.
Delaware assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Terrence Archer explains that "Nick is a dynamic playmaker who had an outstanding high school career. We are excited about what he can add to our offense as a receiver and to our special teams as a returner." Carty says, "(Nick) is going to add some explosion to that athlete room... hopefully we can get him the ball in space as you see from his high school tape that when he has it, he's going to do something really cool with it."
Located on the coast just below the New York/New Jersey line, Shore Regional's Jackson Whitacre built quite a resume in his high school football career. Whitacre, a four-year varsity member as a Blue Devil, made an impact on both sides of the ball with 439 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns on offense to 161 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries in 31 games played. Whitacre was named to the 1st-Team All Shore Conference, 1st-Team All Division, and the Divisional Defensive Player of the Year following his senior season. Whitacre said in-person contact with the staff of Delaware initiated through assistant head coach Terrance Archer visiting him at Shore Regional last spring. The visit kicked off a great relationship. Tight ends coach Garrett Smith followed pursuit with making the trip up to record Whitacre running routes and catching passes from his high school quarterback Ty Koch. "I initially saw Coach Smith as a great guy and was eager to continue to build a relationship with him."
Jackson Whitacre knew as soon as he visited Newark that his recruiting process was over. "When I announced my commitment in July, I had only made 1 visit to campus and to be quite honest, I knew when the time came I would become a Blue Hen." After receiving offers from other programs, Ivy League's Brown offering him as a defensive lineman and other schools offering both, Whitacre decided that he was ready to shift his focus on learning to become the best tight end possible. "Being the youngest in the room, I'm going to make it my job to make the older guys better every day at practice and I want to be a thorn in their side. But it will all come from a place of love of course."
Delaware tight ends coach Garrett Smith states that "Jackson's physicality, explosiveness, and character is exactly what our program is looking for. He is a passionate football player who is going to make the Blue Hen offense better." Carty notes, "We have a couple holes to fill at the tight end spot as far as depth right now... he is a really big, athletic, physical kid that has so much more room to grow. We are pretty excited about his growth potential as well. Having the ability to have great ball skills and catch at such a long frame."
Tyler Burnham brings both elite size and athleticism to the offensive trenches in Newark. Burnham, standing at 6'6" and 305 pounds, has been a consistent member of the offensive line at Red Bank Catholic. Earning All-State honors in both his junior and senior seasons, Burnham was a staple in the team's state title run this season. Red Bank defeated DePaul 14-7 in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group B State Championship a month ago. It didn't take long for Tyler to be noticed at the next level, receiving his first scholarship from Syracuse in January 2022. He went on acquire 19 offers since that moment, including several Power 5 schools in Boston College, West Virginia, Duke, Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh.
At the time of Tyler's decision, the Blue Hens were one of three FCS schools on his list. He visited the campus for the first time in July, had an official visit during the New Hampshire weekend in September, and verbally committed the week following. He joins a pair of top offensive lineman recruits who signed in the previous class: Middletown's Anwar O'Neal and Exeter Township's Anthony Caccese. Burnham shows how well he can move not just within his football tape, but also watching him on the basketball court. Burnham was named to the All-Division team as a center last season and has averaged 9.4 points, 6 rebounds, and a block per game across 60 games as a Red Bank Catholic Casey.
Delaware offensive line coach Chris Rogers states, "Tyler brings a physical brand of football to our offensive line room. His size, athleticism, and overall character will be a great addition to our program." Carty includes, "We went to see him play a live basketball game... just nimble on the court for such a big unit. That's a huge key for us is obviously as we get a chance to recruit big people, can they move? When you see it on tape but also on the court. Being able to get a kid out of a great program that is always something that's important to us too."
Kaeden Singleton, a 6'2", 230-pound EDGE from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was the first recruit who announced his commitment to Delaware on June 7th. Throughout his career playing for Division 6A WPIAL's Canon-McMillan High School, Singleton recorded 20.5 sacks, 85 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 14 QB hurries, 1 interception, 3 passes deflected, and 1 fumble recovered. Singleton was a 3-time WPIAL 6A All-Conference selection, capping off his high school career with a 9.5 sack senior season. Both the accolades and film produced brought a lot of attention from collegiate coaching staffs, causing the recruiting process to be very hectic for Kaeden. Receiving contact from 30 programs and 20 offers starting last spring, Singleton did his due diligence in selecting a home. "I went on a lot of visits and talked to a lot of schools. Some of my deciding factors was the location. (Delaware) is only around five hours away. They have great academics, coaches, and facilities." Singleton was offered to be a tight end at Big Sky's Montana State and other schools opened up the door for him to play both ways, having 221 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball in his junior and senior high school seasons. Singleton, choosing to focus on defense and Delaware, set the tone to the level of players this program is capable of getting onboard. He added, "What made Delaware stand out was their coaches. They were down to earth and personable. Their facilities looked like a Power 5 school."
An eye-popping statistic of his: setting his school's record of all-time blocked kicks with 8 through his career. Asking him of how much work he puts into not just the defensive side of his game, but also impacting the special teams as much as he can, he told me the team spent lots of time blocking kicks. "I had a great lineman that would open the gap up for me to jump through. Also having long arms helped me." Off the field, Kaeden is very active in his church's outreach ministry program. With his help, his church has been able to deliver over 20,000 pounds of food to people in need. Kaeden will be bringing much more than his ability to get to the quarterback to Newark.
Delaware defensive line coach Sam Daniels describes Kaeden as "the total package with speed, quickness, and power. He has the ability to change the game up front in both the run and the passing game. I am excited to have him join the Blue Hen family!" Coach Carty adds that he is a "very dynamic player on the defensive line. You look for those guys that can grow into those positions while maintaining that twitch and pass-rush ability. I think we got a really big steal in Kaeden. I think he's one of those guys that can come in and help and be one of those guys on the EDGE that can really create some matchup problems for the offensive line and running backs."
Colin Gallagher is the third addition to the class from Monmouth County, NJ. Gallagher was a star on both sides of the ball for Middletown South throughout his whole career. Gallagher recorded 909 combined rushing/receiving yards and 8 touchdowns on offense, and 120 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery in 2023. After earning the Shore Sports Network Defensive Player of the Year in 2022, he followed with receiving honors as the Tri-Defensive Player of the Year and Shore Sports Network's First Team All-Defense. Gallagher wrapped up his career as an Eagle with 268.5 tackles, 45.5 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 3 fumbles recovered, and an interception. He has proven over his career that he is a true playmaker, and any program would benefit of his addition.
Colin selected Delaware over a dozen offers across the entire east coast. Sun Belt's Old Dominion and CAA foes Villanova, Elon, New Hampshire, Maine, and Monmouth were also on the list of schools that attempted to gain Gallagher's commitment. Similar to Braden, Colin is also a very successful lacrosse player. He has scored 53 goals and 25 assists in 50 games through 2021-2023. Gallagher will be an exciting addition to the linebacker room next season.
Delaware linebackers coach Rocco DiMeco calls Colin a "true throwback. He's an explosive physical player and a great leader. He loves the game and will be a great addition to our defense." Coach Carty adds that his tape reminds him of Johnny Buchanan coming out of high school. "He's one of those guys that just fits what we do on defense so well. He's really athletic, great runner on the offensive side of the ball."
(Meikhi's Twitter @_cuttino)
Last, but not least, Meikhi Cuttino was announced as an addition to the 2024 class on signing day. Cuttino, rated as a 3-star defensive back, was a member of Paramus Catholic in New Jersey, a program that in the past has produced #1 overall, 5-star recruits in Jabrill Peppers and Rashan Gary. Peppers, Gary both had outstanding careers at Michigan, which eventually led to 1st-round NFL selections in 2017 and 2019. Cuttino follows them as former Paladins joining winged-helmet collegiate programs. Cuttino recorded 106 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 3 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles in his 3-year varsity career. His tape confirms his ability to get through the line of scrimmage and disrupt plays in the backfield before they have a chance to develop. Cuttino was awarded All-Division 2nd Team this past season.
Cuttino had a wide range of schools to select from. Since past May, he reported offers from Illinois, West Virginia, Purdue, Syracuse, Michigan State, Old Dominion, Akron, Marshall, Lafayette, Sacred Heart, and Long Island. Additionally, Cuttino had visited both Rutgers and Boston College in the past year. On Wednesday, Delaware Football announced the kept secret from social media of his recruitment and signing. Between Cuttino's combination of size and speed, he looks to be a natural fit as a hybrid safety/linebacker role in defensive coordinator Manny Rojas's scheme.
Delaware defensive backs coach Art Link describes Meikhi as "a versatile defensive back that has great length and is a dynamic athlete. He is a great blitzer and is an excellent open-field tackler. His potential is through the roof and will be a great addition to the Blue Hens." Coach Carty adds, "(Meikhi)'s long, physical, can move and pedal, but also can play closer to the line of scrimmage if he needs to... he's one of those guys that adds some versatility and comes from a well-coached program that plays against good competition in North Jersey."
This recruiting class will become the first in program history following the announcement of moving up to FBS's Conference USA. While the news is an exciting step for the program, these athletes confirmed that it was not a main emphasis of conversation with the coaching staff. "The potential move was hinted at and was only just a rumor," Whitacre stated. Tyree added, "I think there were rumors floating around, but it did not have any effect on my recruitment." Singleton noted that in one of his visits on campus, the staff discussed the possibility of moving up one day, but not necessarily kicking off the transition the same year he joined the program. "They showed me pictures of their expansion project they have planned," Singleton described. The class of 2024 will be the second class recruited by third-year head coach Ryan Carty and they find themselves with a unique opportunity joining a program in the midst of their rise to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
The incoming class have already found their way on campus before they all arrive as enrolled students in June. Singleton, Whitacre, and Tyree have all been to campus a few times so far, but Streeter and Spiller have crossed Newark off their list for their 6th and 7th times after an official visit last weekend. Still learning on what is to offer around campus, a couple of them already found their hotspots on Main Street. Tyree enjoyed the Italian cuisine of Taverna, Singleton remembered a good first experience at Surreal Creamery, and Whitacre told me the cheesesteak egg rolls at Klondike Kate's has been his hit so far. Streeter also likes Kate's, but his meal is their bacon cheeseburger. If you're reading this, please send these guys your best recommendations that Newark has to offer. I am in agreement with Nick, the "Mac and Cheese" dish at Taverna is my biggest hit as of now. As a seafood supporter, I also am a huge fan of celebrating a Blue Hens win with the Crab Nachos at Grain Exchange across the street from the Tub, Delaware Football's Official Post Game spot.
One of the next big decisions these signees will make is what academic field they will major in as student-athletes. Jackson Whitacre will be studying Finance in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. Kaeden Singleton is deciding between Computer Science or Business. Braden Streeter, Greg Spiller, and Nick Tyree are currently undecided, but Streeter and Tyree are leaning on something business-related. Throughout speaking with these future Hens, this was the question I was most curious to receive responses from.
Delaware fans... please join me in officially welcoming Braden, Greg, Nick, Jackson, Tyler, Kaeden, Colin, and Meikhi to the Blue Hen family. May each of them have health and success both inside the classroom and on the football field throughout their careers representing the Blue and Gold.