Tom Arth doesn't want Mocs to overlook local talent

Bradley Central quarterback Cole Copeland was among the area recruits who stuck with UTC after the Mocs made the transitition from former coach Russ Huesman to new leader Tom Arth.
photo Walker Valley running back Bryce Nunnelly breaks around Ooltewah's Gene Myers during a playoff game. Nunnelly signed with UTC on Wednesday.

Tom Arth believes his first recruiting class filled some specific needs for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football roster.

And the Mocs' new coach was able to use some area players to do it.

Bradley Central quarterback Cole Copeland, Central offensive lineman McClendon Curtis and Walker Valley receiver Bryce Nunnelly were among the 19 players who signed national letters of intent with UTC on Wednesday. In addition, former Baylor School quarterback Nick Tiano, who spent his past two seasons at Mississippi State, made his transfer official.

Copeland and Nunnelly were committed to the previous staff under coach Russ Huesman. Curtis, a 6-foot-7, 310-pound prospect who chose the Mocs despite late pushes from a lot of Football Bowl Subdivision programs, was one of the program's last recruits to commit.

Arth referred to another local player - former Red Bank standout Keionta Davis, a likely NFL draft pick who just finished his career at UTC - when talking about trying to keep local talent in town.

"He's a local guy and certainly one of the best players to ever play at Chattanooga," Arth said. "A lot of times when you're in great areas, you've got to make sure you don't forget about local players. You do everything you can locally first, you find the best talent and keep it here, then from there you kind of branch out."

The staff was certainly excited about Copeland, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback Arth said UTC coaches believe "is the best quarterback in the state of Tennessee this year." Copeland was a two-time all-state selection at the Class 6A school and led the Bears to a 9-3 record this season despite missing time with injuries.

"Cole is incredible," Arth said. "He really is. He just gives me so much confidence. It wasn't about the recruiting experience for him. He wasn't out there on Twitter trying to make this a major production. It was about what was the right fit for him, the right fit for his family."

The Mocs coach noted that he was once a college quarterback, as were defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Justin Rascati, who won a national championship as a player at James Madison and has pro football experience.

"I think Cole just felt so comfortable and knew these coaches were really going to be able to prepare well and provide him with opportunities to become the best player I can be," Arth continued. "I just have so much respect for Cole, the person he is, the family he comes from. We're very, very fortunate, very excited to have Cole in our program."

Poole to play for UTC

Montgomery Christian athlete David Poole announced Tuesday night via Twitter that he will continue his career at UTC.

Poole, a 5-foot-11, 178-pounder, received honorable mention on the Class 4A all-state team in 2016 after making 40 catches for 682 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished with 1,107 yards of total offense and 12 total touchdowns.

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.