James Stovall, WR, Bradley Central High School (Tenn.)
C.J. Board, WR, West Creek High School (Tenn.)
Tray James, WR, Bannaker High School (Ga.)
Alex Kirby, LB, Calhoun High School (Ga.)
Justin Alabi, DE, North Gwinnett High School (Ga.)
The list of returning University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wide receivers with more than a few career catches is a short one. It consists of Marlon Anthony and that's it.
That's good news for the players the Mocs are recruiting because some of them will have a chance to play right away.
"The thing that you're selling right now, is you've got a chance to come in and play early, just like [Tommy Hudson and Ron Moore] did this year," wide receivers coach Will Healy said. "It's the same thing that we sold [Hudson and Moore] on when we were recruiting them."
Mocs coach Russ Huesman said UTC was looking to sign a total of 18 or 19 players. Recruits took their first official visits this weekend.
The Mocs lose Joel Bradford, Sloan Allison and Jeff Veres. Bradford was a two-time All-Southern Conference pick (and 2010 All-American) that had a combined 134 receptions in his final two seasons.
Allison was a jack-of-all-trades player that caught 24 balls for 213 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. Veres, a former walk-on kicker, had 12 catches this season and opted not to return for his senior season.
"They may not have all been NFL players, but we lost some guys that could go in and play a bunch of positions for us," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said. "We've got to go sign three or four wide receivers and we're looking to get bigger bodies."
The 6-foot-5 Anthony was second on the team with 27 receptions for 333 yards and four touchdowns, and has a total of 41 grabs in his first two seasons.
After Anthony there's a big dropoff in returning receivers, not counting tight end Fayshal Shafaat (19 catches for 179 in 2011). The only other wideouts that caught balls were the true freshmen, Hudson (5 for 30 yards) and Moore (3 for 147 yards and two touchdowns).
Hudson and Moore are receivers in the Bradford mold. They're quick, they're around 6 feet tall and they weigh about 165 pounds.
What the Mocs want are some bigger targets like Anthony. Of UTC's commitments, three are receivers and two have some size. Bradley Central's James Stovall is 6-2, 190 pounds and Tray James of of Bannaker High School in College Park, Ga., is 6-4, 182 pounds.
The other wideout commitment is C.J. Board (6-foot, 165 pounds) of West Creek High School in Clarksville.
"They told me I should be ready to play when I come in and that's awesome," said James, one of eight recruits that visited UTC this weekend. "I told them I was ready to come in and play. I'm ready to hit the weight room and do whatever it takes to come in and be successful."
The Mocs are switching to a more spread-oriented offense, so the incoming players won't be too far behind the returners in terms of knowing the system.
"The good thing about it is they'll come in here and the only thing that this [returning] group will have on them is the 15 [spring] practices in our new offense," Satterfield said. "They'll be able to come in and learn it as the guys that are here now are learning it."
DE commits to UTC
North Gwinnett (Ga.) High School defensive end Justin Alabi took his official visit to UTC over the weekend and committed to the Mocs before leaving town on Sunday.
The 6-1, 215-pound Alabi said he was considering UTC and Air Force before making his visit.
"I've had the offer for a while and I was just waiting to come see the school and see how I liked it," he said. "What I really liked was the players and their motivation to have a winning season next year and the next couple of years, and how young they were."
Named the Gwinnett County defensive lineman of the year, Alabi had 65 tackles and 12 sacks this season.