Men’s soccer’s Pogue discusses 2014 recruiting class

Oakland University men’s soccer head coach Eric Pogue has received seven recruit signatures from across the region this offseason, one even coming in from Canada.

Gerald Ben, Austin Ricci, Alec Greene, Wes Mink, Zachary Walker, Jayden Heyer and Brandon Steele have agreed to become Golden Grizzlies. Pogue agreed to sit down with The Post to talk about the new recruits.

Is there anyone in this recruiting class who you think is ready to go out on the field now?

It’s hard to say. The hard part is right now they’re competing against guys their own age right now so it’s hard to translate right away to the college level. They’re not playing guys that are three and four and five years older than them. There are some good soccer players in this group.

I think a player from Toronto, Canada, Austin Ricci is going to come in, and he is a really dynamic player, and I think he can help us. At the very least he’ll be able to come in as a spark plug and get minutes in his first year. I think a player named Jayden Heyer, is a player in that back line that I think can come in and compete for minutes. He’s a very versatile player, very long and athletic.

We have one mid-year transfer named Gerald Benn, that’s already with us who’s going to be an immediate impact player, not only in our team, but also in the Horizon League, and in the region, and in the nation. He’s made a few stops along the way, but now he’s been with us since January. He’s going to be a guy who’s going to help us and be a potent force for us in the attacking part of the field.

As goalkeeper Sean Lewis leaves, how do you think the new recruits and existing players will fill in his absence?

Well, with the departure of Scott Messer and Sean Lewis from our team, but we knew we had Elliot (Tarney), but we also knew we needed to replenish our goalkeeping core a little bit. With bringing in Zach Walker and Wes Mink to our recruiting class, we feel like we added some guys that can come in and compete with Elliot for a starting position in the fall, and also add some good depth and development in the area.

I worked with Zach Walker when he was a lot younger, but he comes from a good pedigree at Detroit Country Day, and he plays for the Waza’s soccer club, which is a high level, and he comes from a long line of soccer goalkeepers. His brother played here at Oakland for a year or two, and so we were excited to add Zach to our recruiting class.

To go around and get a goalkeeper like Wes Mink to join us was a great addition for us. He’s 6-foot-6 and might even be closer to 6-foot-7. He’s tall, he’s lean, he’s athletic and obviously he’s a big presence in the box, and he also comes from a great club called Cincinnati United Premier which is one of the top teams in the nation in his age group. I think we were lucky Wes got overlooked a little bit in the recruiting process, because he ended up transferring from Cincinnati to Augusta, Mich., because his mom got transferred for a job.

I think playing on a really good club team it was a situation where he didn’t get a lot of playing time, and I think maybe he got lost in the shuffle. We were able to earmark him through seeing him play a few times, and obviously you can’t teach size and athleticism, and he’s a really hard worker, and I think both those guys will work extremely hard together to push Eliot, and continue to give us a strong presence in goal.

Besides the seven players that signed with OU, is there potential for any more recruits to join the team?

The signing day has passed. I think at this stage, we’re at a state we’ve added one more to that already. I don’t think we’re in a position to announce just yet, but other than that I think we’ll stand pat. If there’s an opportunity that comes up between now and the time that we come, we’ll kind of evaluate the situation, and evaluate where our team is at after the spring.

I think we’re in good standing with the group that we’ve got, and the addition of one or two more players that I’m not sure we’re in a position to quite announce yet in terms of compliance issue, but you know it’s a good decent sized class. We lost seven so it helps the team add some talent and some depth, and add some guys that are going to come in and help us right away.

Is there a formation you like to use and is it apart of your recruiting process?

There’s no set formation. Last year we played a lot out of a 4-4-2, but I think what we’re finding here is we will probably have a variation of that. We’ll also have a variation of a 4-4-3 system that we work in with the team, and we might even have a system ready to go out of a three-back system like a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3.

Our guys have a really good understanding of all the different types of system. I think for us it’s really an opportunity in August to see what gives us our best group on the field. We don’t have anything set in stone right now, but we have a lot of different formations and a lot can happen between now and August that will really dictate what formation we play with.

It might not be the same throughout the year. We might switch it up a little bit so teams don’t get too accustomed to being ready for us out of one particular formation. That makes it a little more difficult to prepare for us.

How do you feel this year stacks up with your other recruiting classes?

A lot of key guys left within the team, but it’s a cycle we always go through. I think we also have some guys who have been waiting in the wings and who have also put their time in on the training field. For the past couple of years they’ve been waiting for their opportunity to shine, as well. They’ve been doing that here this winter. A combination of guys we have coming in, along with guys that are already on our team are going to get more significant opportunities to help the team, and have been waiting for their moment to shine.

When I think of a recruiting class, I not only think of the guys coming in but the guys we already have. We’re going to need them to step up to maintain that level and I think we’re going to do that and be a force in the Horizon League, and in the region. We have a really tough schedule nationally so I think we’re going to have to go out and produce. I think the talent level is there and the work ethic of the group is there. I think we’ll be ready in the fall.