As soon as head coach Bruce Barnum signed his new five-year contract over a week ago, the Portland State coaching staff shifted recruiting into a higher gear, extending offers and notifying dozens of prospects Barnum will coaching on the Park Blocks for a while.
Those efforts have already paid dividends.
Quickly, Gig Harbor (WA) quarterback Davis Alexander, one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the Emerald State, committed to the Vikings.
Alexander, who is listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, led Gig Harbor High School to a 6-0 start entering last Friday’s game with 1,451 passing yards and 651 rushing yards. He had drawn comparisons to current PSU quarterback Alex Kuresa.
Alexander was already looking at Portland State until Barnum’s five-year contract sealed the deal. He attended the Vikings’ home opener against Western Oregon on Sept. 26 and was offered by PSU before the start of the game.
“That was a big thing for me and my family,” Alexander told the Tacoma News Tribune. “We wanted to make sure he was going to be there. It felt like a place that was right for me. Not only did I recognize that, but my parents did, too. I like the coaching staff there. I like the ‘Barney Ball’ philosophy of blue collar and work hard. It felt like something I (can) work with pretty well.”
Those words are music to the ears of Barnum, who believes Portland State’s recruiting could take off over the next few months leading up to National Signing Day in early February.
“It (new contract) helps everything in what we’re trying to do, especially recruiting,” Barnum told Rip City Radio earlier this week. “I can go into a home now tell parents I’m going to be with their son throughout his career. That’s critical, especially in this first year. I have scholarships available this year. We’re going to build the foundation and get this place to where it’s supposed to be.”
Prior to getting the new contract, Barnum and his coaching staff focused on the benefits of a Portland State education since most players will never in the NFL. Now they are able to add another layer to their sales pitch to prospects.
“It’s an easy sell, it was just a different sell (before the contract),” Barnum said. “We sold Portland State University. Why are you going to school? You’re going for an education. Odds are you’re going to be in the NFL, so let’s prepare you for the next 40 years, whether it was me or somebody else. The university is why you need to come to Portland State. Now I can tell them I have some stability and here is where we’re going (football wise).”
Where are the Vikings going? Well, they rose as high as No. 13 in the major FCS polls with a 5-1 record after breaking an eight-game losing streak to Montana State last Saturday with a 59-42 victory at Providence Park. This Saturday, they face Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA looking to snap a three-game losing streak to the Mustangs
“I knew we could win at Portland State,” Barnum said. “Was it going to be this year? Was it going to be right away? I know I have a good group of kids. They are a mature group. There are some good football players here. People are paying attention (now). The university has a little pep in its step and not just the football team. It’s fun to watch.”
Attendance at Portland State’s homer games nearly doubled from the home opener against Western Oregon to last Saturday’s win over Montana State, which attracted an enthusiastic crowd of 8,110 to Providence Park.
“It’s a great venue to play college football,” Barnum said. “I believe it’s one of the best in the Big Sky. Everybody has their look. The location, the venue, the look architecturally, the field, it’s a fun, great place to watch a football game.”
— Gig Harbor Football (@TidesFootball) October 16, 2015
— Kuresa has completed 21-of-33 passes for 486 yards and four touchdowns in the past two games, an average of 23.1 yards per completion. Kuresa ranks second in the nation with a 17.73 yard per completion rate.
— Five different Viking receivers have a touchdown reception so far this season. Junior WR Darnell Adams, senior WR Thomas Carter and junior UQ Paris Penn have eight receptions each and have combined to average 20.1 yards per catch.
— Portland State ranks second in the Big Sky Conference in scoring defense (16.5) and total defense (318.5). The Vikings lead the Big Sky and rank second in the nation in third-down conversion defense (24.7%). The Vikings rank in the top 10 nationally in four defensive categories and have committed the ninth-fewest penalties in the nation.
BIG SKY SCHEDULE (Sat. Oct. 24)
North Dakota at Montana, 1:30 p.m. (ROOT Sports)
Eastern Washington at Northern Colorado, 1:35 p.m.
East Tennessee State at Montana State, 2:35 p.m.
Southern Utah at UC Davis, 4:00 p.m.
Weber State at Northern Arizona, 5:00 p.m.
Idaho State at Sacramento State, 6:05
Portland State at Cal Poly, 6:05
(All Times Local)
BIG SKY STANDINGS
Eastern Washington 3-0 (4-2)
Southern Utah 3-0 (4-2)
Weber State 3-1 (4-3)
Portland State 2-1 (5-1)
Montana 2-1 (3-3)
Northern Colorado 2-2 (4-2)
North Dakota 2-2 (4-3)
Montana State 2-2 (3-3)
Northern Arizona 1-2 (3-3)
Cal Poly 1-2 (2-4)
Idaho State 1-3 (2-5)
UC Davis 1-3 (1-6)
Sacramento State 0-4 (1-6)