Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Newest State College Football Team? Keiser Plans '18 Kickoff

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Newest State College Football Team? Keiser Plans '18 Kickoff

Article excerpt

Byline: Clayton Freeman

Florida's newest college football program has campuses on three continents, no stadium, a coach hand-picked by a former national champion, 110 redshirts and 13 months to go until its first game.

So when Keiser University head coach Doug Socha discusses his new job, he's used to fielding a lot of questions.

"There's just a lot going on," he said. "We've got to fill a roster, we've got to recruit the state, fill a coaching staff... have daily conversations about facilities, where we're going to play and where we're going to put these kids."

The first-year college coach discussed the challenge of building a program from the ground up Tuesday at Keiser's Jacksonville campus on the Southside.

Socha's stop was the second of 17 visits on a statewide tour to spread the word about the fledgling football program at Keiser, a school that many people still associate with online learning.

The team plans to kick off in 2018 at a still-to-be-completed stadium with 1,500 to 2,000 seats on its flagship campus in West Palm Beach.

Athletic director Kris Swogger said Keiser just finished laying down sod for its practice field and is in the process of setting up a football locker room. The first practice is scheduled for Aug. 28.

The Seahawks compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, where their Sun Conference opponents include schools like Ave Maria and Webber International.

Even though they haven't yet taken their first snap, Socha said they've already signed around 110 players to letters of intent for the 2018 season. All will redshirt this fall.

He estimates that the average age range will be between 18 and 22.

"Our kids are going to go to school Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday. There might even be an evening class in there," Socha said. "So it's very traditional, like you'd think of a normal school like Florida State."

The U.S. Department of Education lists Keiser's enrollment at 18,018, a figure that exceeds many NCAA Division I institutions. But Keiser's student body is spread over 19 campuses, including locations in China and Nicaragua.

No playbook on the planet contains a call with a quarterback in Palm Beach and a receiver in Shanghai. …

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