published Thursday, February 6th, 2014

UTC football 2014 signing class

POSITION BREAKDOWN

• Quarterbacks: 1

• Running backs: 1

• Receivers/tight ends: 5

• Offensive linemen: 3

• Kickers/special teams: 1

• Defensive linemen: 2

• Linebackers: 3

• Defensive backs: 3

NAMES YOU KNOW

UTC signed four players from the Chattanooga area in defensive back C.J. Fritz (McCallie), tight end Bailey Lenoir (East Hamilton), defensive tackle Isaiah Mack (Northwest Whitfield) and offensive lineman Cam Walker (McCallie). Fritz is a state champion sprinter and has the fluid hips suited to play cornerback, while Lenoir is a physical blocker who moves well and has good hands. Mack has been a wrecking ball for opposing offenses for three years and could become one of the stars in what appears to be a special class. Walker is athletic enough to have played tight end in high school but has the frame to add weight and likely become a starting guard.

NAMES YOU WILL KNOW

Several of this year’s signees have catchy names and even catchier highlight reels, including receiver Bingo Morton and quarterback/athlete Penny Smith. Both of those players are expected to make early impacts, as are linebackers Tim Whatley and Dale Warren (both 3-stars). But possibly the early breakout star could be running back Richardre (pronounced Ricar-dre) Bagley, a dynamic player with the speed and moves to thrive in the spread.

NAMES YOU WILL MISS

The only defection from the class was running back Melvin “The Thrill” Hill , who led Washington County to Georgia’s 3A state title game. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Hill ran for more than 1,700 yards (averaging 10.5 per carry) and also returned three punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. He decommitted the day after UTC got a commitment from Bagley.

OFFENSE

RB Richardre Bagley

• Powder Springs, Ga. (Hillgrove High)

• 5-9, 180

• Rivals: 2 stars

• UTC flipped him just last week from his Furman commitment, giving the Mocs a dynamic ball carrier. Bagley has been timed at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had offers from three FBS programs, including Air Force and Temple. A four-year starter, he ran for 200-plus yards in all three of Hillgrove's state-playoff games last season and finished with 1,682 yards, averaging 7.2 per carry.

OT Kennington Cadwell

• Decatur, Ga. (Columbia High)

• 6-6, 280

• Rivals: 2 stars

• Praised as a high-character leader and good student by his high school coach, Cadwell proved his versatility by not only starting on both sides of the ball but playing four different positions in his prep career. He projects as a right tackle and chose the Mocs over offers from 16 other programs, including Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, William & Mary, James Madison, Southern and Tuskegee.

TE Bailey Lenoir

• Chattanooga (East Hamilton High)

• 6-4, 245

• Rivals: 2 stars

• Lenoir was this class's first commitment, going public with his decision after the Mocs' homecoming win over Furman last October, and never wavered. A preseason Times Free Press Dynamite Dozen selection, Lenoir had other offers from Furman, Kennesaw State and Austin Peay. His father Patrick played offensive line at Tennessee. Noted by his high school coach for his toughness and blocking skills, Lenoir also had more than 200 receiving yards last season.

WR Dejuan McQuarters

• Memphis (Mitchell High)

• 5-10, 165

• Rivals: 2 stars

• Rated the state's 39th best overall prospect by 247Sports.com, McQuarters chose the Mocs over offers from six FBS programs, including Kentucky and Northern Illinois. Last spring he qualified for the state track meet in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes and has been consistently timed at 4.4 seconds for 40 yards. He had more than 2,500 all-purpose yards in his career, including 885 receiving yards (averaging 18.8 per catch) and 12 touchdowns last season.

WR Bingo Morton

• Fairburn, Ga. (Langston Hughes High)

• 6-2, 195

• Rivals: 2 stars

• A region champion in the 200-meter dash, Morton averaged more than 14 yards per catch in totaling 608 receiving yards last season. He is rated a 3-star prospect by 247Sports and chose the Mocs over Furman, Samford, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Arkansas State, UNC-Charlotte, Troy, Old Dominion and Coastal Carolina.

LS Emory Norred

• Chattanooga (Baylor School)

• 6-0, 205

• Rivals: Not rated

• The final player offered a scholarship for this class, Norred was a three-year starter for the Red Raiders, handling the long-snapping duties for all punts, extra-point and field-goal attempts. He finished in the top 10 nationally at last summer's Kohl's invitation-only kicking camp and the Prokicker.com camp, where he had an average snap time of .75 second and was rated one of the most accurate snappers. "In his three years as our starter, he never had a bad snap on any special-teams play, and that's pretty rare," Baylor coach Phil Massey said. "It's an important role at every level because special teams can win or lose a game. UTC recognized how good he is at what he does."

OL Branden Parker

• Lithonia, Ga. (Miller Grove High)

• 6-3, 260

• Rivals: 2 stars

• Parker played both offensive and defensive tackle in high school but projects to be a guard for the Mocs because of his quickness and ability to pull. "He is real tough and very athletic," Miller Grove coach Damien Wimes said. "He can move for a guy his size, and he's a bright kid who's a real student of the game." Parker chose the Mocs over offers from Appalachian State, Furman, Samford, Ball State, Presbyterian and William & Mary.

QB Penny Smith

• Knoxville (Fulton High)

• 6-2, 180

• Rivals: 2 stars

• One of the most versatile players in this class, Smith can play quarterback, receiver or defensive back but projects to get on the field first as a receiver. He'll also be learning the offense as a backup quarterback. He was committed to Appalachian State before changing his mind and committing to UTC after a visit two weeks ago. He led Fulton to back-to-back Class 4A state championships, earning MVP honors as a junior. Last season he threw for 2,183 yards and 34 touchdowns, while also rushing for 6.9 yards per carry and five TDs to lead Fulton to an unbeaten finish.

OL Cam Walker

• Chattanooga (McCallie School)

• 6-4, 245

• Rivals: 2 stars

• A preseason Times Free Press Dynamite Dozen selection, Walker earned all-state honors after grading out as the Blue Tornado's best blocker last season. He played both sides of the line at McCallie but projects to play either offensive guard or tackle for the Mocs. He had offers from Alabama-Birmingham and Middle Tennessee State and had been recruited by Duke.

Ath. Trevor Wright

• Greeneville, Tenn. (Greeneville High)

• 6-1, 175

• Rivals: Not rated

• A two-way all-state athlete, he was his region's defensive player of the year with 62 total tackles, four for loss, and returned two of his five interceptions for touchdowns. He also averaged 21.4 yards per catch in totaling 750 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns to help Greeneville finish unbeaten in the regular season and reach the Class 4A state quarterfinals. A three-year starter, he averaged 44.3 yards per kickoff return, with two TDs, and 22 yards per punt return.

WR Wil Young

• Mobile, Ala. (McGill-Toolen Catholic)

• 6-2, 196

• Rivals: 2 stars

• A multisport star who also plays basketball and competes in the 400-meter dash, long jump and high jump, Young had 53 catches for 850 yards last season to help his team reach the state semifinals in Alabama's largest classification. He chose the Mocs over offers from Army, Navy, Arkansas State, Jacksonville State and Texas State.

DEFENSE

FS Octavious Davis

• Oxford, Ala. (Oxford High)

• 6-2, 190

• Rivals: Not rated

• Davis has the frame to add weight and become a linebacker. He also has the mentality, having built a reputation as a big hitter with 104 total tackles, including 72 solos and 7.5 for loss. He also had eight pass break-ups and returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown. Davis picked the Mocs over offers from Tennessee State, Jacksonville State, Tuskegee and Southeast Missouri State. He also competes in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes and was timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash at one camp last summer.

CB C.J. Fritz

• Chattanooga (McCallie School)

• 5-11, 170

• Rivals: Not rated

• Before his junior year, Fritz planned to play basketball and run track and not play football. But when Ralph Potter returned to coach McCallie, he convinced Fritz to return to the football field and last season he earned all-state honors. Fritz won the TSSAA Divison II 100-meter state championship last spring with a blistering 10.59 and has been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.36 seconds. He chose the Mocs over offers from Alabama-Birmingham, Campbell and Kennesaw State.

S Tavon Lawson

• Talladega, Ala. (Munford High)

• 6-1, 190

• Rivals: 2 stars

• Lawson was one of the most sought prospects in this class, choosing the Mocs over offers from Air Force, Navy, Memphis, Minnesota, Middle Tennessee State, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, among others. Lawson, who has a 3.9 grade point average and plans to major in engineering, had 234 career tackles and 12 sacks and helped his team reach the state's Class 4A semifinals last season.

DT Isaiah Mack

• Tunnel Hill, Ga. (Northwest Whitfield)

• 6-2, 264

• Rivals: 2 stars

• Mack was among the most productive tacklers in the tri-state area the last two seasons with more than 250 total stops. In Georgia's North/South all-star game, he was the defensive MVP with 15 tackles, four for loss, including two sacks. Last season he had 121 tackles, 21 for loss, and also had 29 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. As a junior, he made 137 tackles, including 30 for loss and eight sacks. He also had offers from Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Eastern Kentucky, Georgia State and Coastal Carolina.

LB/S Montrell Pardue

• Clarksville, Tenn. (Northeast High)

• 6-0, 188

• Rivals: 2 stars

• Pardue was chosen all-state after finishing with 71 tackles last season. A two-way starter, he also played quarterback, where he rushed for 1,312 yards, while passing for 890 with a combined 25 touchdowns to lead the Eagles to the Class 5A semifinals for the first time in program history. He had offers from Liberty, Tennessee State, UT-Martin and Austin Peay.

DT Zach Rasmussen

• Cordova, Tenn. (St. Benedict)

• 6-3, 275

• Rivals: 2 stars

• After helping Heber Springs (Ark.) High finish 11-1 with a conference title, he transferred to St. Benedict for his senior season looking to get more exposure. Rasmussen chose UTC over offers from Murray State. Central Missouri, UT-Martin, Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. He played through nagging injuries last year, but when healthy was "dominant on both sides of the ball," St. Benedict coach Mike David said.

LB Dale Warren

• Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson High)

• 6-0, 205

• Rivals: 3 stars

• This class's highest-rated signee according to every major recruiting service, Warren had offers from Indiana, Middle Tennessee State, Boise State, Troy, Georgia State, South Alabama and Georgia Southern. He also had an early offer that was later withdrawn by North Carolina and he was being recruited by Penn State before James Franklin informed him that the Nittany Lions were full on linebacker commitments. "It's a heck of a steal for Chattanooga," Stephenson coach Corey Johnson said. Warren, who was timed at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has a 39-inch vertical jump, was his region's defensive player of the year with 126 total tackles, 15 for loss and three sacks.

LB Tim Whatley

• Columbus, Ga. (Carver High)

• 6-0, 210

• Rivals: 3 stars

• A three-year starter and two-time all-state selection, Whatley had 128 total tackles, three sacks and an interception last season and also had more than 100 tackles as a junior. He is his graduating class's salutatorian with a 4.1 grade point average and is part of Carver's Math, Science & Technology magnet program. He had offers from Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Mercer and was also rated a three-star prospect by ESPN.

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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