TheDerisoReport begins a two-day look at National Signing Day across the Southwestern Athletic Conference with the East Division — where two-time champ Jackson State signed another impressive class.
Jackson State’s consistent success in the SWAC under Rick Comegy (consecutive East Division titles and the 2007 conference crown) has helped him land a pair of whales: Linebacker Milton Patterson (5-11, 230) and athlete Alfred Moreland (5-7, 180), both from Banneker (Atlanta, Ga.) High — and both three-star recruits.
Comegy’s staff has earned its share of criticism for playcalling, but its ability to bring in top-flight talent can’t be overestimated.
Patterson had drawn interest from Mississippi State. Moreland had committed to Ole Miss. Their inclusion in Comegy’s third group at Jackson, along with a terrific boost along the offensive and defensive lines, likely pushed his class not just to the top of the East but into the No. 1 spot across the league.
Adding that depth up front was critical, since Jackson State loses leaders at defensive end and tackle, and saw a dramatic series of injuries hobble its offensive line, as well. But JSU is still looking for a quarterback after Lewis Kindle of Westlake-Atlanta, Ga., signed with North Carolina A&T. Returning starter Tray Rutland, a senior, struggled mightily at times as JSU slipped to No. 8 in passing last season — and backup Michael Mosley, the Louisiana Tech transfer, will likely remain at receiver. That leaves the untested redshirt freshman Dedric McDonald as the only competition.
Six signees were from junior college, a staple of Comegy’s recruiting since arriving in Mississippi. It’s paid off: Marcus Benard, a transfer out of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College, set a new school record in 2008 for sacks in a season.
Alfred Moreland, ATH, 5-7, 180, Banneker HS (Atlanta, GA)
Milton Patterson, LB, 5-11, 230, Banneker HS (Atlanta, GA)
Akeem Williams, CB, 6-2, 190, SWMS CC (McComb, MS)
Richar Hughes, FS, 6-0, 185, SW Dekalb HS (Decatur, GA)
Todd Wilcher, ILB, 6-1, 220, Westlake HS (Atlanta, GA)
Tobias Williams, ILB/RE, 6-2, 245, Stephenson HS (Lithonia, GA)
DeAndre Davis, OT, 6-4, 300, ML King HS (Decatur, GA)
Darius Mitchell, OG/C, 6-2, 320, Westlake HS (Atlanta, GA)
Ameer Townes, OG, 6-1, 300, Converse-Judson HS (San Antonio, TX)
Chris Holmes, DT, 6-3, 300, Grand Rapids CC (Grand Rapids, MI)
Jonathan Archie, DE, 6-2, 230, Starkville HS (Starkville, MS)
Antowan Westry, OT, 6-2, 295, Montgomery HS (Seemes, AL)
Antonio Brame, CB, 6-1, 170, Trinity HS (Eulies, TX)
Jonathan Billups, DT, 6-1, 305, Picayune HS (Picayune, MS)
Reginald Bailey, LB, 6-3, 210, Picayune HS (Picayune, MS)
Rico Richardson, WR, 6-0, 185, Natchez HS (Natchez, MS)
Jerel Walker, C, 6-2, 285, Lackawanna CC (Scranton, PA)
Aristacus Forster, OT, 6-3, 305, Verbum HS (Los Angeles, CA)
Cardell Turner, WR, 6-3, 190, Reedley CC (Fresno, CA)
Milton Thomas, DT, 6-2, 295, Auburn HS (Auburn, AL)
Derrick Jean, C, 6-3, 255, Miami Central HS (Miami, FL)
Jordan Miller, OT, 6-2, 260, Miami Central HS (Miami, FL)
Quatavis Parks, ATH, 5-10, 185, Maplewood HS (Nashville, TN)
Stephen Capler, C, 6-2, 280, Ridgeland HS (Ridgeland, MS)
Nathan Simms, CB/ATH, 6-1, 190, Arkansas Baptist CC (Little Rock, AR)
Mike Hill, LB, 6-0, 185, Murrah HS (Jackson, MS)
Coach’s quote: “We went in there as teams and covered a lot of Georgia. Georgia had the gold mine this year. I think we got some of the best out of that state,” Jackson State’s Rick Comegy said.
Anthony Jones, coming off his first losing season ever at Alabama A&M, got busy: This week, he announced 28 new players — most in the SWAC.
A focus, clearly, was the offensive line — and on getting tougher, a hallmark of Jones’ tenure in Normal, Ala., where he’s led the Bulldogs to a trio of SWAC Championship Games in 2002, and 2005-06. He claimed a conference crown in 2006.
A&M added six guys up front on offense, including Jerrel Doom (6-4, 340, Gulf Coast Community College-Perkinston, Miss.), Jordan Griffen (6-1, 308, Tri-Cities-Atlanta, Ga.) and DeQoeurius Mays (6-2, 291, Jess Lanier-Bessemer, Ala.). Also signed were two big backs, Dash Buntjer (5-11, 250, Scottsdale JC-Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Ronald Young (6-0, 235, Mesa JC-Los Angeles, Calif.). A pair of tight ends, Alex Coleman (6-1, 250, TN / Hamilton-Memphis, Tenn.) and Tedric Owens (6-4, 230, Selma, Ala., High) could also help the Bulldogs when down-and-distance become critical.
A&M’s 27th and 28th signees, both from Georgia, arrived Thursday: Linebacker Marvin Gary (5-11, 185, Lithonia, Ga., High), a one-star recruit as a prep defensive back; and Kimario McFadden (6-0, 185, Mundy’s Mill-Jonesboro, Ga.), a DB credited with 52 tackles and two picks as a senior.
Raymond Blanks, K, 5-10, 210, Cathedral HS (Erie, PA)
Dashiell Buntjer, FB, 5-11, 250, Scottsdale JC (Santa Rosa, CA)
Alex Coleman, TE, 6-1, 250, Hamilton HS (Memphis, TN)
Michael Cox, DL, 6-0, 260, Montgomery HS (Mobile, AL)
Cuevas Dargan, LB, 5-9, 230, Tri-Cities HS (Atlanta, GA)
Jerrel Doom, OL, 6-4, 340, Gulf Coast JC (Moss Point, MS)
Joaquennsi Eugene, OL, 6-1, 250, Jackson HS (Miami, FL)
Abraham Felton, DB, 6-1, 215, Vermilion JC (Memphis, TN)
Jordan Griffen, OL, 6-1, 310, Tri-Cities HS (Atlanta, GA)
Phillip Harvey, DE, 6-4, 215, Carver HS (Atlanta, GA)
Jeremy Isabelle, DB, 5-11, 170, J.O. Johnson HS (Huntsville, AL)
Tony Jackson, DL, 6-2, 280, Fort Scott JC (Chicago, IL)
Vernon Marshall, DB, 5-11, 180, Jackson Olin HS (Birmingham, AL)
DeQoeurious Mays, OL, 6-2, 290, Jess Lanier HS (Bessemer, AL)
G’Alonzo Milton, WR, 6-0, 195, Jackson HS (Miami, FL)
Bryan Nelson, LB, 5-8, 220, Jess Lanier HS (Bessemer, AL)
Tedric Owens, TE, 6-4, 230, Selma HS (Selma, AL)
Brandon Parson, DB, 5-11, 165, Dinwiddie HS (Petersburg, VA)
Desmond Walker, RB, 5-8, 180, Mays HS (Atlanta, GA)
Joshua Williams, DE, 6-1, 210, Blount HS (Mobile, AL)
Ronald Young, RB, 6-0, 235, Mesa JC (Los Angeles, CA)
Coach’s quote: “We couldn’t run the ball and we couldn’t block in short-yardage situations. Fullback and tight end were major needs. We got better at those two positions today,” A&M’s Anthony Jones said.
Reggie Barlow — hoping a 27-signature class at Alabama State will fill the yawning void left by 23 departing seniors — didn’t have to look far for some of his top signees.
Home-grown Montgomery, Ala., running back Andrew Pitts dashed for more than 2,600 career yards and 36 touchdowns at Carver High — which provided a total four prospects.
Barlow also bolstered a passing game that finished at No. 7 in the SWAC with big, fast receiver Raphael Poellenitz (6-0, 177, Murphy-Mobile, Ala.), a two-star prospect who runs a 4.5. He should provide a sorely needed spark for an ASU team that was shut out twice down the stretch against Southern and Jackson State, and scored a touchdown or less five times in 2008.
Eleven of ASU’s signees, in fact, were from Alabama.
Immediate needs at linebacker were addressed with the addition of Josh Abbott (5-10, 220, Tift County-Tifton, Ga); Leland Baker (6-0, 200, Erwin-Birmingham, Ala.) and Justin Marable (5-10, 220, Lithonia Springs, Ga.). Abbott arrives with 377 career tackles in high school, and three straight all-region nods. Baker, who will switch to linebacker, was the 2008 lineman of the year in Alabama’s Class 5A and collected 67 sacks in his prep career. Marable was reportedly offered by Iowa State, and drew interest from Ole Miss.
Barlow didn’t announce any juco tranfers.
Demarques Taylor LB 5-11 220 Andrew Jackson HS (Jacksonville, FL)
Joshua Abbott ILB 5-10 220 Tift County HS (Tifton, GA)
Avery Smith MLB 6-0 215 Troup County H.S. (Troup, GA)
Marcus Solomon SS 5-11 193 Lowndes County HS (Valdosta, GA)
Lawrence Henderson DE 6-5 225 Raines HS (Jacksonville, FL)
Justin Marable LB 5-10 220 Lithonia Springs HS (Lithonia, GA)
Robert Harvey DT 6-0 280 American HS (Miami, FL)
Adam Calhoun OT 6-8 330 Newnan HS (Newnan, GA)
Michael Green FS 6-1 185 Camden County HS (Camden, GA)
Jermaine Ridgeway OT 6-5 275 Minor HS (Adamsville, AL)
Najee Leftwich TE 6-2 220 Spalding HS (Griffin, GA)
Le’Andre Crawford DE 6-3 220 Troup HS (Troup, GA)
Jaquan Bentley C 6-2 285 Pahokee HS (Pahokee, FL)
Terren Jones OT 6-7 320 Choctaw HS (Ft. Walton Beach, FL)
Edmond Davis C 6-1 270 Carver HS (Montgomery, AL)
Landon Jones WR 6-3 180 Wetumpka HS (Wetumpka, AL)
Raphael Poellenitz WR 6-0 177 Murphy HS (Mobile, AL)
Leland Baker LB 6-0 200 E.B. Erwin HS (Birmingham, AL)
Maurice Tate ILB 6-1 225 Linen HS (Linden, AL)
Demorius Beasley WR 6-0 175 Decatur HS (Decatur, GA)
Carlos Seawright DB 5-11 175 Huffman HS (Birmingham, AL)
Charles Payne WR 5-11 181 Sidney Lanier HS (Montgomery, AL)
Gary London Jr. DE 6-5 260 Southern Lab HS (Baton Rouge, LA)
Coach’s quote: “I’ll tell you this: Josh Abbott is a freaking player. You watch that kid play on film and you know you’ve got a guy who will get the job done,” Alabama State’s Reggie Barlow said.
That Alcorn State, on its third coach in just over one calendar year, could sign anybody — much less 17 prospects, some of them with a lot of upside — is a towering tribute to those who remain in Lorman, Miss.
The most intriguing were receivers Sam Randall (5-9, 165, Wingfield-Jackson, Miss.) and Tavoris Doss (5-9, 175, Sheffield-Memphis, Texas) The do-anything Randall, clocked at 4.34 as a sophomore, played running back and defensive back and returned kicks and punts in high school — earning recruiting looks from Toledo. Doss received interest from Louisville and Marshall as a defensive back.
Alcorn lost three linebackers, and interim head coach Earnest Collins addressed that with the signing of William Seliby (6-2, 215, Harrison Central-Saucier, Miss.), Robert Gainwell (6-2, 220, Yazoo City, Miss., High) and Darryl Ward (5-11, 190, Homestead, Fla., High). Ward, a two-star recruit, was ranked No. 187 in the nation at safety.
Collins didn’t sign any junior-college prospects.
Patrick Christian DL 6-4, 210 Whitehaven HS (Memphis, TN)
Joel Clems DL 6-1, 280 Hattiesburg HS (Hattiesburg, MS)
Tavoris Doss WR 5-9, 175 Sheffield HS (Memphis, TX)
Robert Gainwell LB 6-2, 220 Yazoo City HS (Yazoo City, MS)
Terrance Green TE 6-4, 210 St. James HS (St. James, LA)
Matthew Haynes OL 6-2, 255 Warren Central HS (Indianapolis, IN)
Larry Moore WR 5-9, 185 Edna Karr HS (New Orleans, LA)
Mark Nyainda DB 6-1, 185 Mansfield Timberview HS (Grand Prairie, TX)
Donte Parker ATH 5-11, 175 Mansfield Timberview HS (Arlington, TX)
Samuel Randall WR 5-9, 165 Wingfield HS (Jackson, MS)
William Seilby LB/RB 6-2, 215 Harrison Central HS (Saucier, MS)
Armand Stevenson DB 6-0, 180 Murrah HS (Jackson, MS)
Bobby Tatum OL 6-3, 250 Forney HS (Forney, TX)
Arnold Walker RB 6-0, 195 McNair HS (Atlanta, GA)
Kevaughn Williams DL 6-1, 280 W.H. Adamson HS (Dallas, TX)
Elijah Young DL 6-3, 285 Bowling Green HS (Bowling Green, KY)
Coach’s quote: Coach? What coach? Just kidding. …
Doss and Randall “in particular fit the need that we have for getting some speed on the team. They both can run, and they’re pretty shifty. They’ll come in right away and make a big impact on the return teams. They can do something special when they get out in space,” Alcorn State’s interim coach Ernest Collins said.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
Twelve of Valley’s 20 announced signings on Wednesday played either offensive or defensive line, providing needed depth for a program that ranked at or near the bottom in both running the football and stopping the run.
But the class might just be defined by the addition of talented quarterback Anthony Bowie (6-0, 180, Erwin-Birmingham, Ala.). Bowie, who had a 400-plus night of total offense during one thrilling night last season, had Grambling and Middle Tennessee as frontrunners before Totten scooped him up.
Bowie was part of a quartet of recruits who signed out of Birmingham, site of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game since 1999. (The success is notable, in that Valley has never advanced to the title match over that 10-season period.) He reportedly had a hand in convincing linebacker James Shackleford (6-1, 215, Midfield-Birmingham, Ala.) — a chemisty major — to sign with Valley, as well.
Six signees were junior college prospects.
Tyrone Bowie LB 5-10 225 Gardendale HS (Gardendale, MS)
Antonio Griggs DL 6-0 280 West Lawdes HS (Columbus, MS)
Tony Porter LB 5-11 220 Northwest HS (Coral Springs, FL)
Edwin Young III OL 6-3 315 St. Joseph HS (Greenville, MS)
Marvin Pittman QB 6-1 185 Coahoma CC (Clarksdale, MS)
James Shackleford LB 6-1 220 Midfield HS (Birmingham, AL)
Claven Woodard DL 6-0 345 Whitehaven HS (Memphis, TN)
Terrance Taylor OL 6-1 285 Hinds CC (Raymond, MS)
Ian Luckett OL 6-2 300 Canton HS (Canton, MS)
Cory Wright OL 6-2 315 Iowa Valley CC (Killeen, TX)
Derrick Glover LB 6-3 200 Feather River CC (Aiken, SC)
Anthony Bowie QB 6-0 180 Erwin HS (Birmingham, AL)
Barry Maltimore DL 6-1 260 Woodlawn Magnet HS (Birmingham, AL)
Gavin Crumpton QB 6-2 185 Woodlawn Magnet HS (Birmingham, AL)
Jarvis Holmes OL 6-4 310 Vicksburg HS (Vicksburg, MS)
Frankie Causey LB 6-2 230 Feather River CC (Macon, GA)
Jamell House DT 6-1 325 McClellan HS (Little Rock, AR)
David Coleman DT 6-2 285 Jolies CC (Calumet, IL)
Eric Killman OL 6-3 310 W.W. Samuel HS (Dallas, TX)
Kristian Graves OL 6-3 310 W.W. Samuel HS (Dallas, TX)
Coach’s quote: “We had an opportunity to shore up the offensive and defensive lines, which was an area we really focused on,” Valley’s Willie Totten said.
For TheDerisoReport’s take on the SWAC West’s National Signing Day classes, go here.