The University of Maine signed 22 football recruits Wednesday, including three in-state players, on the first day football players could sign for scholarships.

“I liked the fact that I’m going to play for my home state,” said Dakota Tarbox, a tight end/defensive end for Class A state champion Thornton Academy, who chose Orono over New Hampshire and Holy Cross.

Joining Tarbox from Maine are Spencer Carey, who played quarterback and safety for Class A runner-up Lawrence, and Matt Cosgrove, a wide receiver and defensive back at Bangor who is the son of Black Bears Coach Jack Cosgrove.

Carey, at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, is being recruited as a defensive back. Tarbox (6-3, 220) is pegged for slot receiver or tight end.

Tarbox “is a guy who grew on us over the past year,” Jack Cosgrove said. “He’s a tremendous basketball player and those skills translate over to football. We’re excited about him joining our program and see him potentially growing into a Justin Perillo.”

Perillo, a 1,000-point scorer as a high school basketball player in Delaware, became an all-conference tight end at Maine and will be a senior in the fall.

The rest of the recruits hail from Pennsylvania (6), Massachusetts (4), New York (3), New Jersey (3), Connecticut (2) and Maryland (1). Eleven of the 22 are projected for offense, 10 for defense and one, Sam Lenson of Natick, Mass., is a kicker and punter.

“We needed to get our roster up,” Cosgrove said. “Right now, including (five) walk-ons, we have 70 in the program. (This recruiting class) brings us up to 92 and we have the ability to be at 95. So there possibly will be some more.”

The Black Bears will lose 14 players to graduation this spring, including three starters on the offensive line. Four incoming recruits — whose eligibility is contingent upon admission to the college and compliance with NCAA rules — are offensive linemen.

Scholarships range from full to partial to what Cosgrove calls “short money.” One former Black Bear who fell into the short-money category is Mike DeVito, who signed for a $1,000 scholarship and went on to become a captain, earn a job in the NFL as an undrafted free agent and is a six-year defensive lineman for the New York Jets.

“It’s such a crapshoot,” Cosgrove said. “So much will happen. These are all guys we saw on video and heard a lot about, but when we get them here live in person, things change.”

Two quarterbacks — Kellen Croce of Middlebury, Conn., and Daniel Hoffer of Yonkers, N.Y., both 6-foot-2 — are among the recruits. The four offensive linemen range from 6-4 to 6-6 and from 250 to 285 pounds.

As for coaching his son, Cosgrove, a quarterback for Maine before graduating in 1978, said “it has a good feel to it.”

“He wanted to play Division I,” Cosgrove said. “He wanted to challenge himself and wanted to have the opportunity to dive into the game. I think he wants to be a coach down the road.”

Cosgrove said his entire coaching staff is scheduled to return, but this is the time of year when vacancies are filled. Last February, five Maine assistants left for other programs.

The recruits who signed Wednesday will report to Orono in August. They won’t take part in spring drills, which begin April 11 and conclude with the Blue-White scrimmage May 4. 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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