By Sean Gormley Hoya Staff Writer

A busy offseason for the Georgetown football program has continued in April, with Head Coach Bob Benson announcing the signing recruits for the class of 2004, what looks to be the program’s strongest incoming group in years. A pair of siblings from two members of this year’s team, a former division I-A player, a pair of receivers from Minnesota’s top high school program and Georgetown’s first 300 pound player since re-entry to I-AA highlight the incoming class.

“I think it is an outstanding class. I think the move to the Patriot League and the timing of the announcement definitely helped us get a better class,” Benson said. “All of the guys coming in here are looking seriously at Ivy and Patriot League schools, so I think it is a very good class. They are a highly talented group of people.”

Freshmen traditionally don’t play an enormous role on Georgetown’s football team, but this class is a group that will have an enormous impact on the success that Hoyas may have in their early years in the Patriot League.

“It is difficult. I am very realistic in expecting very few freshmen to play. I don’t expect them to, but in the end I think it is an excellent class and they are going to help us in the challenge to take it to the next level,” Benson said.

Transfer kicker Marc Samuel comes to Georgetown from the University of Kentucky with two years of eligibility remaining should have an immediate impact on the team. At Kentucky, he started for the Wildcats during their 1999 campaign, kicking 14 field goals and playing in the Music City Bowl against Syracuse. Samuel brings experience to the kicking position, having played against seven bowl-bound teams this past season and is more than prepared for Patriot League competition.

Georgetown signed both starting receivers, Walter Bowser and Andrew Fleming, from Cretin-Durham Hall, a Minnesota high school that finished nationally ranked in USA Today. The duo combined for over 80 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards their senior season.

“Cretin-Derham Hall is the winningest high school program in innesota in the last seven years,” Benson said. “Bowser had official visits to William & Mary, Columbia, Cornell, and he is coming here. We’re going to need some wide receivers, and we are expecting things out of him and Fleming.”

The biggest player in the incoming class is 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive lineman Billy Wuyek from Fredricksburg, Va.

“Wuyek is a big offensive lineman, was offered a scholarship at VMI, but is coming to Georgetown, and is a real good player,” Benson said.

The two siblings of current Hoya players that will be joining the team in the fall are lineman Jim Lenihan and linebacker Matt Paulus. Lenihan is the younger brother of senior Bob Lenihan, and All-MAAC lineman, while Paulus is the younger brother of sophomore David Paulus, a punter and walk-on member off the basketball team.

A number of running backs are a part of the incoming class that is heavy on offensive talent, with 18 of 25 commitments coming on the offensive side of the ball. The cream of the running back crop is Dawon Dicks, a tailback from Bridgeport, Conn.

“Dawon Dicks is one of the most highly recruited kids we’ve got coming in,” Benson said.

Finally, with the loss of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year J.J. Mont, the quarterback position got some attention. Mark Doria was signed out of Demarest, N.J., but will be competing with the three quarterbacks currently on the roster – sophomores Matt Ciccone and Sean Peterson and freshman Dave Paulus.

“Mark Doria is a very good player that we got away from Dartmouth and Bucknell,” Benson said. As far as who is going to be under center in the fall, “Sean, Dave and Matt all had a good spring. I expect one of those three to step in. Sean and Dave are probably ahead of Matt at this point, but its going to be a battle.”

The players aren’t going to be the only addition to the program this upcoming year, as some teams dropped Georgetown from their fall 2000 schedule. Canisius, LaSalle and Siena all dropped Georgetown, but those teams have been replaced with Bucknell and Wagner on the Hoyas’ schedule, leaving one date open.

“It is very difficult to have someone drop you and then all of the sudden try and fill that game,” Benson said. “It is a challenge. We will either get a preseason scrimmage or try and fill that date, but its difficult to fill that date.”

Georgetown’s current fall schedule features five MAAC teams and three Patriot League teams, a schedule that is noticeably more difficult than in previous seasons.

“There are no breaks in the schedule until down the road in November,” Benson said. “I think we just have to get off to a good start. We play such a difficult opening schedule, that if we get off to a good start, that’s all we need to do.

“We need to understand that the margin for error now is very little. We have to play at the top of our game week in and week out to have the ability to win. Our kids understand that we’re not favored in 70 percent of our games any more – we’re underdogs in 75 percent. The sense of urgency to take the team to the next level is there.”

Accompanying the upgrade in competition is a change in game time for home games, with the noon start that his been in place for seven years being pushed back until 1 p.m., a change that should enable more bleary-eyed students to roll out of bed to attend home games.

As the football program undergoes significant changes and upgrades, it would be easy to rest on the laurels of a 33-10 record since 1996 and back-to-back 9-2 seasons, but Benson relishes a challenge: “The focus has to be on what we’re doing now and in the future. It’s a great challenge, but we can certainly do it.”

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