BY JAY GREENBERG
Most recruiting rating services gave Chad Kanoff three stars as a pro-style quarterback and ESPN.com went to four. Out of the quarterbacks Bob Surace watched, Kanoff was THE star.
“He was the best thrower we saw on film,” said the Princeton coach about the highest profile recruit by the Tigers in the I-AA (now FCS) era. “He has an accurate arm that is strong enough to get the ball downfield and great height (6-4) to see over the defense.
“Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, California) ran a sophisticated, college-level, dropback passing game and Chad’s timing and ability to make decisions quickly were mature. The ball comes out of his hand effortlessly.
“He is what I would call a sneaky good athlete, too. I don’t think they designed runs for him but when he does run, he covers a lot of ground quickly. Usually the taller guys are not flexible but he has really good short-area quickness, more than you would think.
“James (Offensive Coordinator Perry) and I went to see him play basketball in a big game against one of the better teams in the state of California and Chad competed his tail off. He wasn’t a go-to scorer, but he threw down a dunk during the game, played defense and rebounded and did all the gritty things that a coach loves.”
Basketball often serves as Surace’s cross-checker for athleticism and competitiveness, commodities he has found in large supply in Princeton’s football class of 2017, in addition to superior Ivy League level speed.
“I don’t know if we have anybody as fast as John Hill last year, but we have a lot of explosive guys in this class at different levels,” said the coach.
Despite the depth brought to Princeton in the previous two recruiting classes -- five sophomores and two freshmen started the 2012 finale against Dartmouth -- Surace still believes there are incoming players at the speed and kicking positions who will compete to get on the field as freshmen.
“A.J. Glass (Lake Oswego, Oregon) has good balance, vision, quick feet and size [6-0, 200] to handle a lot of carries and initiate contact,” said Surace. “He started off his senior year with [962 yards] in four games, then broke his collarbone, which may have been a blessing for us because some schools stopped recruiting him and we stayed on top of him. He came back after missing five games and finished off the year with 198 yards in the state semifinal game.”
“Joey Rhattigan (Naperville, Illinois) is six feet and 200 pounds with really good feet, a physical runner with vision and balance who flashed explosive speed and is really powerful in the finish of his runs. He would carry 30 times and get stronger as the game went on. He ran for  yards on the season and  yards in a quarterfinal playoff game.”
“Last year we took three, then moved (Anthony) Gaffney and (Matt) Arends to defensive back.” said Surace. “This time we have some receiver-DBs that we have decided to look at first on defense, but still have four we will start at receiver.
“Lawrence Wilson (Portland, Oregon) is in the mold of receivers like Seth DeValve and Matt Costello, players who can create matchup problems with their size and speed. Lawrence ( 6-2, 205), runs well enough to be a deep threat, but is really crisp in his routes and will be a big target in the red zone.”
“[Receivers coach) Dennis Goldman loved the film of James Frusciante (Westport, Connecticut) so much, he called me over and said, ‘You gotta see this, it’s like watching Matt Costello.’ The route-running, body control and hands were eerily similar. Like Matt, he is a multiple sport athlete who can return punts, too.”
“Trevor Osborne (Peoria, Arizona) also reminds me so much of the successful receivers we have had here. He catches the ball naturally and his body control and adjustments are terrific for a guy who is 6-2, 195. We thought right away that this is a guy who has the maturity to be a good player in this league.”
“Evan Perkins (Menlo Park, California) is two inches taller than Roman Wilson and has separation ability to be able to so some inside slot things like Roman does. We really like the way he makes plays.“
“When I saw all the film of juniors, Scott Carpenter (Vienna, Virginia) was the tight end that stood out the most,” said Surace. “At camp, he showed so many of the characteristics we saw with Harry Flaherty (’11). He is explosive, strong (at 6-3, 210), has really good hands, sticks his nose in as a blocker and is tough, playing last season with a high ankle sprain and not missing a play. I have never seen a guy taped that much, he must have used up the whole Gonzaga (College High School) tape budget.“
“Nick Peabody (West Yarmouth, Massachusetts) was one of the top players in the state last year, leading Barnstable (of Hyannis), not an historically strong team, to the state championship game as a quarterback. There were three or four wins where he led them down the field at the end of the game. He is either going to be in that Quinn Epperly-Kedric Bostic mold of being an athletic quarterback that throws the ball well enough or will be in the Seth DeValve-Connor Kelley mold as a receiver. And at 6-3, 225, he is even bigger than those guys.”
“James Gales (Brooklyn, New York) probably was the fastest guy (4.55) at our camp,” said Surace. “He was a running back-DB at Brooklyn Tech who is going to play corner for us because it’s just so hard to find cornerbacks. His cover skills are good because he is so smooth in and out of his cuts and breaks, in the mold of Jakobi Johnson for size, strength, speed and physicality. James might be able to help in the return game as well.”
“I didn’t know until the end of the recruiting process that the father of Markus Phox grew up in Princeton and once worked at the University. That’s a pretty strong tie to Princeton coming out of Wichita, Kansas. Markus played quarterback last year but his junior year he played DB and was a good tackler with one of those body types (6-0, 185) where you can see him getting big and stronger. We could wind up with a longer corner like Gaffney.”
“Durelle Napier (West Islip, New York) already has that kind of body (6-0, 195) and, like Anthony, he spent a year at (Loomis-Chafee) prep school, where he really came into his own as a post-grad playing against older guys. He is a long, physical corner with good body control who will be a good matchup for the big wide receivers in this league.”
“Teddy Graves (Chappaqua, New York) ran a 4.6 at our camp. He is a multiple skill position player who (at 6-0, 190) could play anything from running back to wide receiver to corner but based on what he did at our camp, I think he is a safety. He has very good ball skills, instincts and vision and is explosive, like his Dad (Butch) who is Yale’s all-time leading basketball scorer and third all-time in the Ivy League.”
“Sam Huffman (Lima, Ohio) is a wide receiver-DB who is going to play at safety, at least initially. He is really athletic, has good length (6-1, 180), plays the ball and runs well, with good hands, and really good length (6-1, 180). We’ll get him stronger with more time in the weight room as he finishes up his other sports.
“Dorian Williams (Streetsboro, Ohio) rushed for over 2000 yards as a running back. We may play him at both – he scored a lot of touchdowns -- but I am leaning towards safety because he’s really explosive and physical.”
“Tyler Roth (Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania) didn’t play corner until his senior year but at camp we loved his quick feet and he played the ball well. That was before he became a first-team all-state punter, practically every one of his punts at 40-41 yards with hang time. In his senior year, I don’t think he had one for fewer than 37-38. He’ll compete (with Brendan Sofen) for the punting job right away and for a corner job eventually.”
“Patrick Hall (Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania) played other positions in high school but specialty-rating services had him as one of the top five or six in the country as a long snapper. He fills an immediate hole (created by Jason Tiemeier’s graduation.) We had him at camp and he is extremely accurate, with velocity. He has a great chance of taking charge immediately.”
Coming: The linemen and linebackers.