South Alabama’s 2013 Football Signing Class

February 7, 2013 · By · Filed Under Football, Recruiting 

South Alabama signs 25 student-athletes in all to their 2013 signing class. Of the signees 17 signed National Letter-Of-Intents and two signed grants-in-aid on Wednesday.

Each recruiting site ranks the Jaguars differently in the Sun Belt Conference. Scout.com ranks the Jags third in the conference, Rivals.com ranks the Jags tied for seventh with Florida International while 247Sports puts the Jaguars recruiting class as #2 in the conference behind Louisiana-Lafayette. No matter how you look at it, it’s an impressive recruiting class for a program entering its first season as a full FBS and Sun Belt Conference member and only their fifth recruiting class in their short history.

The lure of competing for a Sun Belt Conference Championship and a bowl game berth aided the Jags in signing a class of good student-athletes on Wednesday.

“The reason we were able to get several of these really good football players is because we can go to a bowl game and we can win a championship,” Jones said in his press conference. “The last few years we have been selling South Alabama, facilities, the city of Mobile, which are all great things to sell, but at the end of the day you’re going to get better players when you tell them you’re going to be on television a lot, go to bowl games and compete for a championship.”

“There’s no doubt it especially helps with junior-college kids because they’ve only got a couple of years to play,” he continued. “They really don’t want to sit and wait for you and your program to evolve. They want it to happen right now. That’s the reason why I think we signed more quality junior-college kids.”

Among the 25 who signed with South Alabama, six junior college transfers signed in December while five more signed on Wednesday with 14 freshmen. The players had offers from schools like Alabama, Florida State, South Carolina, Michigan, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Kansas State, Arizona, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Utah State, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado State, Southern Miss, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Troy, Georgia State, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Western Kentucky, Texas State, Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, Memphis, UAB, Tulane, Ohio, Toledo, Marshall, Bowling Green and UMass.

Their primary focus was on defensive linemen and defensive backs on the defensive side of the ball while focusing on skilled playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.

Caleb Alves is a 6’3” 175-pound Wide Receiver from Palm Bay Senior High School from Melbourne, Florida. He ranked seventh in the Orlando Sentinel’s MidEast Florida Super 60 and was selected to the third team All-State team his senior season. He chose South Alabama over Bowling Green, Florida A&M, FIU, UMass and Memphis.

Noah Armstrong is a 6’7” 300-pound offensive lineman from Lawrence County High School in Moulton, Alabama. Rivals.com rated him a 3-star recruit and among the top 100 offensive linemen in the country. He had offers from Arkansas State, Western Kentucky and Southern Miss.

Kaleb Blanchard, 6’ 200-pound native of Denham Springs, Louisiana and running back for Denham Springs High School, committed to South Alabama after visiting Mobile for an official visit in late January on Senior Bowl weekend. He had actually committed to Arkansas but after a coaching change his recruitment opened back up. Three recruiting services has him ranked as a three-star recruit while one had him as a four star recruit.

Blanchard is listed as clocking a 4.45 40-yard dash. Rivals.com has him ranked as the #35 nationally at his position and #15 in the state of Louisiana while 247Sports has him ranked as the #42 player at his position. Despite injuries in his junior year, he still gained 400 yards rushing with six touchdowns. He was then named offensive MVP of the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl back in December. He was offered scholarships by Arkansas, Cincinnati, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette among others.

Blanchard’s skill and potential explosiveness could give that extra punch that the Coach Matthews spread attack needs to open up both the running and passing games.

Roman Buchanan is a 6’2” 205-pound safety from Daleville High School in Daleville, Alabama. He was a four-year starter at his high school and was a first-team All-State selection by the Alabama Sport Writers Association in his senior year. As a junior, he had 72 solo tackles, 45 assists, four sacks, three forced turnovers, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and four passes defended. Then he also added a blocked field goal.

Jacob Chaffin is a 6’3″ 260-pound defensive tackle from Spain Park, AL.  Chaffin had 38 solo tackles, 8 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior. He was rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com which also ranked him among the top 10 defensive tackles in Alabama.

Devon Earl is a 5’10” 185-pound cornerback from Hoover High School in Hoover Alabama. He had 61 tackles, 5 interceptions, 10 pass deflections and 3.5 TFL’s as a junior. He was ranked fifth in Alabama at cornerback according to ESPN.com.

Dejon Funderburk, a native of Pensacola and wide receiver at Booker T. Washington high school, committed to the Jags back in the summer of 2012 and stayed firmly committed even though he had been pursued by several programs. Funderburk had offers from Rutgers, Alabama, Alcorn State, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Florida State, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, South Carolina, South Florida, Troy, UAB and Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers were the last to try to woo Funderburk but he stayed with his initial commitment. He contributed his choice to playing close to home so friends and family could see him play. His big play ability will be used in Coach Matthews spread offense.

DeMarion Harper, a 6’4” 275-pound strong side defensive end originally from Vicksburg Mississippi and Fort Scott Community College. He redshirted last fall at CC but was credited with 38 tackles in 2011 at Highland CC. He was being recruited by Louisiana Tech, Kansas, Ohio and Toledo among others. He will come to South Alabama with two years of eligibility as well.

Caleb Hayman is a 6’3” 215-pound wide receiver and tight end prospect from Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Florida. He was selected first-team All-State after helping lead his school to the state title last season.

Tony Johnson, a 6’3” 250-pound linebacker from Summit Mississippi and Southwest Mississippi Community College is rated a two-star by some recruiting services but is rated a three-star by the 247Sports composite ratings. He was originally verbally committed to Louisiana Tech but flipped to the Jaguars at the last minute. He also had an offer from UAB. He is listed as having a 4.8 40-yard dash speed. He could very well step in and fill the shoes left by Jake Johnson’s graduation.

Xavier Johnson is a 5’11” 170-pound running back from Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Florida. He rushed for 1,736 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. He was ranked among the top 30 running backs in Florida by ESPN.com and was an honorable mention for All-State in 2012.

Akeem Lewis is 5’11” 230-pound defensive end from Abbeville, Louisiana by way of Los Angeles Harbor CC. He totaled 14.5 TFL’s and nine sacks and ranked in the top three in the league last season.

Jerome McClain, a 6’2” 295-pound defensive tackle from Pensacola and Northwest Mississippi Community College. He is rated as a three-star recruit by recruiting services. He had offers from Arizona State, Indiana, FIU, Memphis, Minnesota, Ohio, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky. He is listed as clocking a 5 second 40-yard dash. He’s another addition to a defensive line that became quite thin last season due to injuries and will have a number of seniors graduating after next season.

McClain finished with 51 tackles and 10 tackles for loss last season. Northwest Mississippi CC finished in the top 10 in NJCAA last year.

Tevaris McCormick is a 5’10” 170-pound wide receiver from Biloxi High School in Biloxi, Mississippi. He racked up 769 yards receiving, 213 yards rushing and 265 yards on kick returns with 16 total touchdowns. He played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic last year. He was rated a two-star from all of the national recruiting services.

Brandon McKee is from South Forsyth High School in Georgia and got on the Jaguars radar when he participated, and won, a punting and kicking competition in Mobile. But McKee did not stop there, he also won competitions at Appalachian State and Western Carolina, finished second at Auburn’s punting camp and was eighth out of 200 overall at the Kohl’s National Scholarship Camp in Wisconsin. He was a first-team All-State, All-Region and All-County selection last year.

During his senior season he had 33 punts for an average of 45 yards per punt and a long of 63. He also booted 10 other kicks over 50 yards each. McKee also went a perfect 25-for-25 on PATS and 8-of-9 in field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards. Another very impressive stat was 40 touchbacks on 45 kickoffs. All of those stats earned him First Team All-State honors in 6A.

McKee had interest from Arkansas, Auburn, Duke, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State plus some lower division schools. Texas A&M wanted him to join the program as a preferred walk-on. However he chose to verbally commit to South Alabama. The staff is primarily interested in him for punting duties since Scott Garber, who has handled the punting duties for the program’s first four years and has another year of eligibilty remaining is considering leaving.

But McKee may have an opportunity to placekick as well. Michel Chapuseaux graduated from the program leaving an opportunity for someone to earn his spot.

Theo Rich, a 6’3” 270-pound defensive tackle/strong-side defensive end from Portal High School in Portal Georgia and Itawamba Community College. He is ranked as a two-star prospect by some of the recruiting services. He signed with NC State before leaving the team in 2012 and going to Itawamba CC. He had offers from Middle Tennessee State and Georgia State but chose South Alabama in the end.

Rich will come to South Alabama with two years of eligibility remaining and will help to add depth to a defensive line that is full of seniors. He will also give the Jags experience on the defensive line next season as well.

Brett Sheehan, a 6’3” 184-pound quarterback from Suwanee Georgia and Collins Hill High School signed with South Alabama over Georgia State and FIU. He is considered a pocket passer and clocked a 4.93 40-yard dash. He is rated as a two-star recruit by some of the recruiting services.

DeVonta Staples is a 6’1” 190-pound safety from Valley High School in Lanett, Alabama. He was named to the All-State team by the Alabama Sports Writers Association

Jalen Wells is a 6’5” 230-pound defensive end from Dublin High School in Dublin, Georgia. He was projected at a number of positions by recruiting services such as tight end and linebacker. He had interest from Florida, Georgia, NC State, Mississippi State and Georgia Tech. Wells was rated a three-star recruit according to Scout.com and was named first-team All-Region and All-Middle Georgia last year.

 

Below are junior college transfers who signed with the Jaguars in December.

 

Cristobal Dinham is a 5’10” 210-pound running back from Lithonia Georgia by way of Independence Community College in Kansas. He ranked fifth in the NJCAA after rushing for 1,012 yards in 2012 with 10 touchdowns.

The Fuller twins are from Scooba, Mississippi and attended Kemper County High School. They both attended East Central Mississippi CC. Steffon Fuller is a 6’4″ 205-pound safety who recorded 54 tackles and four pass break-ups last season to be named first-team Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College’s First-Team All-State. He recorded eight tackles in three of the Warriors’ nine games including against nationally-ranked East Mississippi CC.

Steven Fuller is also 6’4″ weighing in at 200-pounds. He played in the secondary, at wide receiver and on special teams until last year. Defensively he had 20 tackles, three of them for loss, two pass defenses and a blocked kick. Offensively he caught seven passes for 95 yards while collecting 13 pancake blocks on run plays.

Montell Garner is a 6’1″ 185-pound cornerback originally from Colleyville, Texas and transferring from Navarro Junior College. He tallied eight pass break-ups in the season which tied him for fifth in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. He also added 23 tackles and an interception. The Bulldogs finished ranked fourth in the NJCAA poll with a 10-2 record. Against nationally ranked Kilgore Junior College, Garner tallied 10 tackles in the 42-14 win. Then against Blinn JC he tallied seven tackles, three passes defended and an interception in the win.

Jay Jones is a 5’9″, 180-pound running back from Horn Lake, Mississippi and transferring from Northwest Mississippi Community College. Jones rushed for 504 yards and three touchdowns to rank in the top 50 in the nation rushing. He also added 11 pass receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown. He began the season with an 83-yard, one touchdown rushing performance with another 23 yards on three catches against Copiah-Lincoln CC. He followed that up with a season-high of 157 yards rushing on 29 carries in a win at Jones County CC. He then followed that performance with a 126 yard rushing performance with a touchdown against Holmes CC. He also had a 51 yard reception during the season.

Desmond LaVelle is a 5’11″ 230-pound linebacker from Decatur, Alabama who transfers to USA from Northwest Mississippi CC. He tied for fourth on the team with 53 tackles, with 4.5 of them for a loss, two fumble recoveries an interception and a pass defended while earning first-team All-Conference honors. His team finished 8-2 on the season ranked ninth in the final NJCAA rankings and a defense ranked 14th in the nation with 316.6 yards per game. As a freshman in 2011, LaVelle collected 25 tackles, two of them for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery.

Jaguar fans should be quite pleased with this recruiting class. If recent patterns continue, the staff should should do a great job of developing their talent to translate into outstanding play on the field. The defensive line and secondary added some very high quality depth. Offensively, the Jags added some big play threats and much needed depth at running back and wide receiver. They also picked up a huge offensive lineman, which was their target number for this class.

With the ability of back-signing the December JuCo signees to 2012, coach Jones said that he had five open scholarships and were still in the recruiting process for this class. The staff will have their eyes open for receivers to help build more depth and big play potential to the position.

Congratulations guys! We are glad that you chose South Alabama and look forward to watching you develop your abilities for the Jaguars.

Comments

One Response to “South Alabama’s 2013 Football Signing Class”

  1. Huan on February 7th, 2013 5:00 pm

    Excellent!

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