Portland State football coach Tim Walsh spent virtually all of January on the road, combing the nation for the Vikings' next recruiting class. But the hectic part of recruiting for Walsh is now.

Because it plays at the NCAA Division 1-AA level, PSU is often a safety school for recruits who expect or want to play at the 1-A level but aren't offered a scholarship.

'The last five days before the signing period begins, that's usually when we get our best players,' Walsh says. 'That's usually the most stressful time for the coaches, too.'

Players can sign with colleges on Wednesday.

The Vikings expect to sign 17 players, including North Medford quarterback Beau Hovland, who verbally committed to PSU in January.

The signings will be in addition to those of three players who transferred in January. Adrian Limbrick, an offensive tackle who last played at San Francisco City College, Chuck Jones, who played defensive tackle for Kansas last fall, and Jason Daily, once the starting punter for Michigan State, all enrolled at PSU for the winter term and can practice during spring drills, which begin April 14.

Walsh and his staff have focused on improving the offensive and defensive lines. PSU finished last in the eight-team Big Sky Conference in rushing offense (86 yards per game) and rushing defense (212 yards per game) in 2003, and the Vikings went 4-7.

Walsh says his recruiting experiences have shown that the Vikings can compete almost equally with some Division 1-A schools, such as Idaho and Boise State, because of the allure that comes from having a campus in the middle of Portland. But that's only helpful to a point.

'We could beat Boise and Idaho almost every time if we had -1-A next to our name,' Walsh says. 'That 1-A gives them an advantage. But, we still compete pretty well with those schools.'

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