Big class to meet Mocs needs

Big class to meet Mocs needs

January 5th, 2012 by John Frierson in Sports - College

Bradley Central's James Stovall is stopped for a 5-yard loss by Cookeville's Seth Deloach (52). He is going to play for the UTC Mocs.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

UTC COMMITMENTS

Alex Kirby, LB, Calhoun (Ga.) HS

James Stovall, WR, Bradley Central

C.J. Board, WR, West Creek (Tenn.) HS

Tray James, WR, Bannaker (Ga.) HS

Justin Alabi, DE, North Gwinnett (Ga.) HS

Will Johnson, DB, Chattahoochee (Ga.) HS

*Deddric Williams, LB, Hillcrest (Ala.) HS

* Early enrollee

National signing day arrives on Feb. 1. That's 28 days away.

For the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's football coaches, they're beginning a four-week push to fill out the Mocs' signing class. UTC has seven players committed and as many as 10 recruits are making official visits this weekend. Coach Russ Huesman said UTC wants sign around 18 players.

That's a big class by Football Championship Subdivision standards. UTC actually signed 21 last year, but only 18 got in school and stayed with the team. And just like last year, a big class allows UTC to address all kinds of needs, and build some depth, after losing three starters on offense and defense from the 2011 team that went 5-6.

The biggest need, Huesman said, and the position in which more than one true freshman might be able to play right away, is wide receiver.

"I think wideout's probably the only spot where these kids better be good and better be good fast," Huesman said.

UTC lost two-time All-Southern Conference wideout Joel Bradford, as well as contributors Sloan Allison and Jeff Veres. Marlon Anthony is the top returner with 41 total catches in his first two seasons.

The Mocs already have commitments from three wide receivers, including Bradley Central's James Stovall, and they would like to add one more.

"Wide receiver is always a position where you can come in and play pretty early as long as you're not too deficient from a physical standpoint," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said.

UTC has three returning quarterbacks in Terrell Robinson, Jacob Huesman and Graham Nichols. Even though all three have at least two years of eligibility remaining, UTC will sign another, Huesman said.

"I think the philosophy is you sign one in every class," he said.

The Mocs return all of their offensive linemen, and have several backups that could challenge for playing time, so the linemen they sign will add needed depth.

Unless UTC sees a running back that it can't pass up, Satterfield said, the Mocs won't sign one. All of last season's backs return, plus Kenny Huitt will be in the mix after redshirting. In addition, suspended running back Keon Williams could return.

Huesman said he hasn't yet made a decision regarding Williams' status. Meanwhile, former Calhoun running back Dustin Christian will not be signing with UTC. Christian failed to qualify last year and Calhoun (Ga.) High School coach Hal Lamb said Wednesday that Christian has qualified for Division II but not D-I.

Lamb believes that another former Yellow Jacket, linebacker commitment Alex Kirby, might be able to play at UTC right away. Kirby helped Calhoun win a state championship last month and was voted the Class AA Defensive Player of the year.

"He understands the game, and he'll work his tail off to be the best he can be," Lamb said.

The Mocs return two of their three starting linebackers, All-American Wes Dothard and Gunner Miller. They lost an All-SoCon performer in Ryan Consiglio, which will open up a spot for either 2010 starter Shane Heatherly, Keith Mayes, Muhasibi Wakeel or possibly one of the newcomers.

Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said the plan was to sign three defensive ends, possibly a tackle, three linebackers, two safeties and a cornerback.

The Mocs lost secondary veterans Jordan Tippit and Chris Lewis-Harris, but return All-SoCon safety D.J. Key, All-SoCon corner Kadeem Wise and corner Chaz Moore. In addition, UTC will have the four defensive backs that redshirted last season.

On special teams, UTC returns kicker Nick Pollard, who made the SoCon All-Freshman team. The Mocs lost punters Mike Hammons and Bradford, but UTC will not be signing a punter.

Huesman said UTC will continue to use the rugby-style punts that Bradford did effectively in the second half of last season and one of the players on the roster, possibly his son Jacob, will assume the punting duties.