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Idaho head coach Paul Petrino concentrates on local recruits

Two one-win seasons haven’t changed the way Idaho coach Paul Petrino approaches national letter of intent day.

Much like his first two seasons, Petrino formed the base of the recruiting class in December when he announced 10 junior college signings.

On Wednesday he formed the rest of it with the announcement of 16 signings that round out the Vandals’ 2015 signing class. Of the 16, 14 are from the high school ranks and two are from the junior college ranks.

The formula for the class remains the same: Attack the Inland Northwest, take advantage of University of Idaho family ties and extend the recruiting network to the state of Florida.

The Inland Northwest has proven to be an emphasis for Petrino. After adding what he called three of the five best players from the area in last season’s class, he added four area players in addition to two players from southern Idaho.

“I’m really happy about that,” Petrino said. “Really happy about the four really good football players out of the state of Idaho and two good players out of Spokane. That’s a good thing. We need to keep that going and try to do that every year.”

Gonzaga Prep’s Jack Bamis and Lake City’s Zion Dixon headline the local area gets. Dixon will receive the opportunity to compete right away at an offensive guard spot. Bamis will have the opportunity to compete at running back, though Petrino said he could eventually contribute on defense.

Offensive linemen Conner Vrba (Meridian) and Tanner Mauseth (Pocatello) round out the Gem State gets for Idaho. Petrino called Mauseth the most athletic offensive lineman he’s recruited during his tenure at Idaho. Vrba will grayshirt and enroll in January.

Lakeland High School kicker/punter Cade Coffey will also grayshirt. Petrino doesn’t want his eligibility to overlap with that of to-be junior Austin Rehkow.

Petrino also shored up the quarterback position, which was down a player when Chad Chalich transferred to Montana. Kareem Coles of Madison High School in San Diego will join Coeur d’Alene’s Gunnar Amos as Idaho’s two true freshman quarterbacks.

Amos is already enrolled and will participate in spring practice. Coles will join the program for fall camp.

“If we had the chance to get Kareem we would have,” Petrino said. “We went from: ‘If there’s a great one out there, let’s get him.’ When (Chalich) made that decision, we definitely needed to get one (a quarterback) and we got a great one.”

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