BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team has signed seven players to National Letters of Intent as announced by head coach Mike Brizendine on Sunday afternoon.
Merlin Baus, Som Essome, Danny Gonzalez, Ricardo John, Ben Lundgaard, Drew Ott and Wilfred Williams will all join the Hokies in the fall of 2014. These student-athletes come to Blacksburg from various backgrounds as these seven players represent four different countries. This balanced recruiting class includes players from the United States, Germany, Liberia and Trinidad and Tobago.
“All of these players come from winning cultures and we can’t wait to bring that type of mentality to campus,” Brizendine said of his seven newcomers. “This is a very special and experienced group of competitors and I commend my staff for the work and dedication they put in to assemble the 2014 recruiting class. We are very excited to bring these student-athletes on campus and get them contributing not only on the soccer field but to the classroom and to the Blacksburg community as well.”
Name: Merlin Baus
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 165 lbs.
Hometown: Bochum, Germany
Previous School: Ruhr-Universitat-Bochum
Club: FC Schalke 04
A hard-nosed defensive-midfielder with a wealth of experience playing at one of the highest levels in German youth soccer, Merlin Baus joins the Virginia Tech men’s soccer team after successful stints at Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04’s youth programs. During his time at FC Schalke 04, Baus helped lead his team to a U-19 national championship defeating Bayern Munich in the finals. Baus appeared in 46 matches for Schalke scoring one goal and notching three assists. In Dortmund’s U-17 and U-19 programs, Baus appeared in 56 games at the defensive-midfield position scoring three goals.
Coach Brizendine on Baus: Merlin is a player with an extremely impressive resume. He brings a great skillset to the team and by playing at such a high level there is no doubt that he will be ready to make an impact in the ACC. I not only expect Merlin to be a great player for us, but also a leader both on and off of the field.
Name: Som Essome
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 194 lbs.
Hometown: Essen, Germany
Previous School: Gesamtschule Bockmuehle
Club: ETB Schwarz-Weis Essen
A dynamic forward with impeccable speed and skill, Som Essome joins the Hokies with experience competing at a high level. Playing in over 70 games for ETB Schwarz-Weis Essen, Essome scored 16 goals playing at either outside midfielder or forward. Essome also won the Cup of the City of Essen four times throughout his career and won several regular season championships with his youth team.
Coach Brizendine on Essome: There’s an unbelievable amount of excitement and anticipation from our staff for Som to wear a Virginia Tech uniform. He has all of the abilities to be a great forward in our league- he’s got size, speed, great feet and he’s a natural goal scorer, which is something that every successful team needs. Anyone who spends time with him recognizes his desire to win and be successful.
Name: Danny Gonzalez
Height/Weight: 5’7” / 145 lbs.
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Previous School: Miami Killian Senior High / FIU
Club: Kendall Academy
An attacking midfielder with impeccable vision and a knack for setting up goal-scoring opportunities, Danny Gonzalez joins Tech with two years of collegiate playing experience under his belt. As a freshman, Gonzalez was named C-USA Third-Team All Conference and to the C-USA All-Freshman Team after scoring one goal and tallying an impressive eight assists. Prior to FIU, Gonzalez was a standout at Miami Killian Sr. High. While at Miami Killian, Gonzalez led his team to three district championships, one regional championship and one appearance in the state championship. Gonzalez totaled 78 goals in his three seasons and was named to the All-County team twice, and the All-State All-Star team once. Gonzalez also had a stint with the Youth National Team in 2008.
Coach Brizendine on Gonzalez: Anytime that you can pick up a transfer of this caliber you have to be excited. Danny is a very technical player who has the ability to find holes in the defense with his passing. Coming in with two years of collegiate playing experience, we expect him to have an immediate impact on our team.
Name: Ricardo John
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 165 lbs.
Hometown: Arouca, Trinidad and Tobago
Previous School: St. Augustine Secondary
Club: St. Ann’s Rangers
The 2013 Secondary School’s Football League Golden Boot and Male Player of the Year award-winner, Ricardo John joins the Hokies after a stellar prep campaign in Trinidad and Tobago. John led his high school team in goals for three-straight years and was named the Secondary Schools Football League Player of the Year this season. During his final year at St. Augustine, John scored an impressive 21 goals en route to helping his team win the 2013 InterCol National Championship.
Coach Brizendine on John: Anytime that you bring in a player who is a Golden Boot winner it creates a high level of expectation. Ricardo has the ability to change games for us. I expect him to be one of the top goal scorers to ever come through the program. As a person, he is everything that I admire in a young man. He is humble and respectful, but aggressive and competitive when it comes to soccer.
Name: Ben Lundgaard
Height/Weight: 6’5” / 192 lbs.
Hometown: Greenville, Del.
Previous School: Salesianum School
Club: Delaware Rush
An All-American goalkeeper at the esteemed Salesianum School, Ben Lundgaard comes to Virginia Tech after a standout prep career. During his senior season, Lundgaard took advantage of his tremendous distribution and was able to amass two assists off of punts while only conceding twice. He recorded 15 shutouts in 17 games played. During the three years that Lundgaard was a starter at Salesianum, the team was ranked consistently in the top-25 and in 2013 his team reached the No. 2 spot in the national rankings. Lundgaard also appeared in the High School All-America game where he was named the MVP of the game.
Coach Brizendine on Lundgaard: We have very high expectations of Ben. With his natural ability, he has the potential to challenge for the starting position. Ben is unique because not only does he have a tall frame, but has unbelievable balance and quickness. These skills allow Ben to make the necessary saves as well as the saves that keep you in games.
Name: Drew Ott
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 170 lbs.
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va.
Previous School: Norfolk Academy
Club: Virginia Rush
The 2012 and 2013 Virginia Prep League Player of the year, Drew Ott joins the Hokies after a successful prep career at Norfolk Academy. An attacking midfielder with great vision and an eye for goal, Ott had an extraordinary career at Norfolk Academy. In his time with the team, Ott amassed 68 goals and 39 assists. In 2012 and 2013, Ott was named to the NSCAA All-South Region team. He led his team to a State Championship in 2012. From 2011-2013 Ott was named All-Conference and All-Prep. In 2012, he received First Team All-State honors.
Coach Brizendine on Ott: One of our program goals is to always find the best soccer players in the state of Virginia. With Drew, we feel that he is that type of player. Not only is he a goal scorer, but he has the ability to sit back and find the necessary passes to set up goals as well.
Name: Wilfred Williams
Height/Weight: 5’7 / 145 lbs.
Hometown: Monrovia, Liberia
Previous School: Liberty High School
Club: FC Dallas
A product of one of the top youth academies in the U.S., Wilfred Williams joins the Hokies after a successful run in the FC Dallas youth program. A quick outside back with the ability to attack from the back line, with his USSF U-16 Academy team, Williams appeared in 25 matches leading his team to a first-place finish in the Frontier Division. Williams then went on to play for USSF U-18 Academy team at FC Dallas where he earned the opportunity to play for the FC Dallas reserve team. Before moving to Dallas to play with FC Dallas’ Academy program, Williams attended Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tenn. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Williams was twice named to the AAA All-State Boys team and the All-Conference team.
Coach Brizendine on Williams: Wilfred plays for one of the best clubs in our country. He is extremely athletic, skillful and loves to get forward during the course of the game. Outside of studying, his life revolves around soccer and that’s something we’re excited to bring here.
A highlight video featuring the 2014 recruiting class is available above.
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