Former Bradley Central wide receiver James Stovall picked the United States Naval Academy over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as a senior in high school.
Thursday, following a year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Stovall, a former Times Free Press Dynamite Dozen selection, picked the Mocs over the Midshipmen. He signed a letter of intent with UTC.
"It was a good experience for me," Stovall said of Navy Prep, "but I just felt like I needed to come home. I was pretty set when I decided to transfer that I was going somewhere close to home, and I knew UTC was a good fit."
Stovall committed to UTC as a senior before receiving an offer from Navy. He changed his mind and signed with the Midshipmen in February 2012. Stovall is from a military family and UTC was well aware of Stovall's interest in the military academies when the Mocs were recruiting him.
"He never chose Navy just because it was an FBS school," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "Sometimes these kids, they really don't know what they're getting into [by signing with a military school]. James knew what he was getting into and it was well thought out -- and you can't fault a kid for that."
Huesman said he was happy to sign Stovall this time. Stovall, a two-time Class 6A all-state player with 121 catches for 1,771 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Bradley Central, still has four years of eligibility remaining.
"When James popped on our radar, we were pretty excited about it," Huesman said. "Obviously we knew a lot about him because we'd recruited him previously."
The addition of Stovall gives UTC four incoming wide receivers, a position in need of some depth and explosiveness. The other newcomers are Xavier Borishade (5-10, 170), Davis Howell (6-2, 190) and Alphonso Stewart (6-3, 190).
Terrell Robinson, who split time between quarterback and wideout last season, led the Mocs with 40 catches for 489 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. All-Southern Conference tight end Faysal Shafaat was second with 37 grabs, and wideout Tommy Hudson was third with 31.
Huesman said wide receiver and linebacker were the two positions UTC was particularly hoping to address this summer, whether through a signing like Stovall's or a transfer.
When the Mocs recruited Stovall last time, Marcus Satterfield was the offensive coordinator and UTC was running a pro-style system. A switch to a spread system was already in the works. The Mocs last season under Satterfield and in the future under Jeff Durden will use wideouts as weapons more than Navy, which runs the option.
UTC threw 302 passes in 11 games last season, 130 more than Navy did in 13 games.
"I want to contribute any way I can," Stovall said. "When I was at the prep school, they taught me how to block -- the main thing receivers do there is block -- so I just want to fit in, do my role, fit in with the team the best I can and do what I can to help."
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.