20/20 Hindsight: Grambling’s 2007 signing class

New Grambling coach Rod Broadway arrived in the shadow of National Signing Day 2007, leaving little room to develop his own recruiting list.

Still, even as the coaching search to replace Melvin Spears continued, Sammy White and Andre Robinson – two holdovers from the Spears era, they both played at Grambling under Eddie Robinson – never stopped recruiting.

Broadway also saved back some scholarships, hoping to use them on transfers in the spring if the right mix of starters couldn’t be found.

Together, they salvaged a recruiting class that could have been lost. GSU added 17 new signees – 10 offensive and 7 defensive – in 2007. Impressively, six became instant starters – and five others appear poised to take the field.

That 11 out of 17 signees, similar to the combined starter haul (13) from 2005-06 combined, though those classes were impacted by a coaching change.

These out-of-the-box contributors would help Grambling to consecutive Western Division titles in 2007-08, and the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in ’08.

That included RB Frank Warren, OG Victor Phillips and DE Kendell Robinson, switched Dezmond Spivey from receiver to punter and saw Kiare Thompson take over as the principal punt returner. Late signee Kenneth Batiste (Northside-Lafayette, La.) also worked into the rotation at wideout and returner.

Dante Cheek, who played linebacker in high school, saw action after a switch to FB/TE. Others still working their way into the rotation include LB Toby Mott from Richwood, La.; OL Victor Phillips of Minor-Birmingham, Ala.; DT Antoine Rogers of Mays-Atlanta, Ga.; DL Jhrron Spencer of Aliceville, Ala.

Grambling decided to reverse course on a couple of 2007 offers not long after Broadway arrived, including one for Rivals two-star prospect Johnny Wooten of Garland. He looked to be an impact player, but on-going legal troubles were apparently a deal breaker.

What I said about them on signing day in 2007:

LB Dante Cheek, 6-0, 220, Starr’s Mill (Fayetteville, Ga.): Played tight end but is projected to play linebacker. Caught 32 receptions for 473 yards with three touchdowns, in a season highlighted by six catches for 100 yards versus Fayette County High. Could play on both sides of the ball, as well; also starred as a prep tight end.

OG Victor Phillips, 6-4, 295, Minor (Adamsville, Ala.): Earned special mention honors on Jim Stefani’s Class of 2007 Underclassmen Recruiting Blog. Participated in the Tuscaloosa Scout.com combine. Versatile blocker who led the way for all-staters at QB and RB last season.

DE Kendell Robinson, 6-4, 235, Parker (Birmingham, Ala.): Two-way player in high school who projects to play on the defensive side of the ball. Helped lead his high school team to a 6-3 record and an appearance in the state playoffs. Named a “Player to Watch” by The Birmingham News. Two-way player in high school who projects to play on the defensive side.

WR Dezmond Spivey, 6-1, 175, Green Oaks (Shreveport, La.): Passed for 720 yards with five passing touchdowns, including a 234-yard passing effort against North Caddo. A do-anything player, he also played quarterback and defensive back – and was all-district as a punter.

WR Kiare Thompson, 6-0, 185, Burbank (Sacramento, Calif.): Recorded 18 receptions for 169 yards and one touchdown last season; averaged 21.1 yards per catch. Also had 19 tackles. Ranked the 64th best prospect in California by Phil’s Spartan Athletics message board. Another two-way player who was also a standout defensive back; projects to play offense.

RB Frank Warren, 6-0, 185, Pleasant Grove (Ala.): Selected to the Alabama Sports Writer’s Association Class 5A All-State football team. Mentioned on Jim Stefani’s Class of 2007 Underclassmen Recruiting Blog. Finalist for Class 5A Back of the Year award. Also plays on his high school’s basketball team. Word is, he plays with the same intensity as his uncle, the great Saints defender of the same name.

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