MONTGOMERY, Ala. – With All-American quarterback Josh Hollingsworth back next fall for his senior season and three starters gone from the offensive line, Faulkner head coach Brent Barker and his staff concentrated its recruiting efforts on filling the void up front.
For Barker, recruiting coordinator Blake Boren and offensive line coach Brandon Slay - mission accomplished. The Eagles earned scholarship signatures from seven offensive linemen who could be looked to immediately for help, and 12 others who will be given the opportunity to prove their worth when fall practice begins in August. Because of its NAIA affiliation, and the ability to sign more players because of its junior varsity program, Faulkner is bringing in a class of 64 freshman next fall.
"We're excited about this class, and I'm extremely proud of our staff for all their hard work in not only bringing in quality football players but quality young men as well," said Barker, who in his first season as Faulkner's head coach guided the Eagles in 2012 to a 6-5 record – its first winning record in the program's six-year history. "We addressed our needs, and our primary need was on the offensive line. Blake and our staff did a great job getting out all over the southeast selling our university, and their diligence paid off."
Among the offensive linemen who could make an immediate impact are 6-3, 270-pound Ryan Chastain, a three-year starter at Pickens High School in Jasper, Ga., who was on the all-state watch list his senior season; Levi Green, a 6-4, 260-pounder from St. Clair County High School; and 6-4, 275 pound Jacob Carter, who prepped at Baker High School in Mobile and turned down multiple NCAA Div. II offers to come to Faulkner. Geraldine High School's Matt Bryson, Spring Garden High School's B.J. Turner, Oxford High School's Tim Lewis and Parkview (Ga.) High School's Blake Dunham are among the others who will battle for early playing time at the point of attack.
Also on offense, the Eagles signed a talented group of wide receivers who are expected to flourish in their potent offense, which was among the nation's leaders last season in passing. Jordan Veasy, a wideout from Gadsden City High School who had 637 yards on 23 catches and scored nine touchdowns, got the Eagle coaches' attention with a dominating performance at Faulkner's summer camp. He'll be joined fellow Gadsden City receiver LaGerald Malone, who chose Faulkner over NCAA Div. II Shorter University and had over 1,800 all-purpose yards and scored 18 touchdowns, and McAdory High School receiver Jason Powell, who helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their first-ever state championship game last season. Before transferring to McAdory last fall, Powell played in three state championship games while at Hoover High School. Among the other receivers signed Wednesday were Mortimer Jordan High School's Logan Motte, Grayson (Ga.) High School's Moses Mayes, Providence Christian School's Kyle Eriksen and Chelsea High School's J.R. Appling.
Among the running backs choosing Faulkner were McAdory's David Knight, who formerly played in Montgomery at Jeff Davis High School, Rogers High School's Austin Kerr and Pensacola Catholic (Fla.) High School's Simon Smiley. Palm Beach (Fla.) High School's Cameron Golob, the Lou Groza top prep placekicker winner at the prep level, also signed with Faulkner. Of Golob's 57 kickoffs last season, 52 were touchbacks.
On the defensive side of the ball, a pair of players in the secondary could be of immediate help to the Eagles. Sam Adams, a defensive back from Calera High School, and Jeffrey Blair, a strong safety from Pinson Valley High School, were both in the list of the top 10 defensive backs in Alabama, according to Scout – a respected recruiting service. Adams, an all-county selection, was also a 1,000-yard rusher at Calera. Linebacker Javorius Hunter, who excelled in his senior year at Tuscaloosa County High School, was a two-year starter for the Wildcats and is another signee expected to bring depth to the Eagles early on. Other defensive signees include Alpharetta (Ga.) High School cornerback Tre Whitaker, Fairhope (Ga.) High School cornerback Keylan Smith, Elite Sports Academy safety Aramis Calloway, Jackson High School cornerback Kelvin Burden, Newton County (Miss.) High School safety Joseph Wansley, Prattville High School lineman Randall Reese, Daphne High School lineman Elliot Williams, Hazel Green High School defensive end Connor Breeden, Elmore County High School linebacker Sawyer Hauk and Chattahoochee County (Ga.) High School linebacker Marquis Jews.
"The biggest thing for us this year was identifying the better players and going after that Div. II and Div. 1-AA type player because with the facilities we now have in place and the structure of our program where it is we can successfully recruit those guys," said Boren, who in addition to serving as the recruiting coordinator coaches the Eagles' receivers. "Our numbers are smaller by design but the talent level of the student-athletes is higher than it's ever been.
Faulkner begins spring practice on March 25, with the annual Black & Blue Spring Game scheduled for April 20 on John Mark Stalings field at Faulkner Stadium.
Click on players' names in BOLD to view highlight footage.NAME YR HT WT POS HOMETOWN PREVIOUS SCHOOL
Sam Adams FR 5-11 170 DB Calera, Ala.. Calera Hhigh School
Jacob Carter FR 6-4 275 OL Mobile, Ala. Baker High School
Tre Whitaker FR 6-1 180 DB Alpharetta, Ga. Alpharetta High School
Cameron Golob FR 5-11 170 K Pam Beach, Fla. Palm Beach High School
Jay Strickland FR 5-9 200 LB Loganville, Ga. Grayson High School
Jordan Veasy FR 6-2 190 WR Gadsden, Ala. Gadsden City High School
Logan Motte FR 5-11 180 WR Kimberly, Ala. Mortimer Jordan High School
Moses Mayes FR 5-5 160 WR Loganville, Ga. Grayson High School
Ryan Chastain FR 6-3 270 OL Jasper, Ga. Pickens High School
Matt Bryson FR 6-3 260 OL Geraldine, Ala. Geraldine High School
B.J. Turner FR 6-4 270 OL Spring Garden, Ala. Spring Garden High School
Jeffrey Blair FR 6-1 190 SS Pinson, Ala. Pinson Valley High School
Astin McQueen FR 6-2 215 DE Prattville, Alabama Prattville High School
Levi Green FR 6-4 265 OL Odenville, Ala. St. Clair County High School
LaGerald Malone FR 5-7 165 WR Gadsden, Ala. Gadsden City High School
Kyle Eriksen FR 6-1 170 WR Dothan, Ala. Providence Christian School
Austin Kerr FR 6-0 185 RB Rogers, Ala. Rogers High School
Jason Powell FR 6-4 210 WR Hoover, Ala. McAdory High School
Randall Reese FR 6-1 245 DL Prattville, Ala. Prattville High School
Keylan Smith FR 6-0 185 DB Fairhope, Ala. Fairhope High School
Javorius Hunter FR 5-11 185 LB Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tuscaloosa County High School
Simon Smiley FR 5-8 175 RB Pensacola, Fla. Pensacola Catholic High School
Sawyer Hauk FR 6-2 218 LB Eclectic, Ala. Elmore County High School
Aramis Calloway FR 6-1 190 SS Ft. Myers, Fla. Elite Sports Academy
Kelvin Burden FR 5-11 175 DB Jackson, Ala. Jackson High School
David Knight FR 5-11 185 RB Mcalla, Ala. McAdory High School
Joseph Wansley FR 6-4 190 SS Newton County, Miss. Newton County High School
Blake Dunham FR 6-2 240 OL Liliburn, Ga. Parkview High School
Tim Lewis FR 6-1 260 OL Oxford, Ala. Oxford High School
Connor Breeden FR 6-3 215 DE Hazel Green, Ala. Hazel Green High School
J.R. Appling FR 5-11 185 WR Chelsea, Ala. Chelsea High School
Marquis Jews FR 6-2 220 LB Cusseta, Ga. Chattahoochee Co. High School
Elliot Williams FR 6-1 240 DL Daphne, Ala. Daphne High School
Josh Salo FR 5-11 220 LB Cumming, Ga. West Forsyth High School
Allen Mote FR 5-10 190 LB Montgomery, Ala. Alabama Christian Academy
Spencer Whatley FR 6-0 270 OL Clanton, Ala. Chilton County High School
Alex Lindsay FR 5-10 160 K Wetumpka, Ala. Wettumpka High School
Austin Hallman FR 6-1 200 DL Tuscaloosa, Ala. American Christian Academy
Brandon Whalen FR 6-1 200 RB Destin, Fla. South Walton High School
C.J. Nelson FR 5-6 240 DL Gulf Breeze, Fla. Gulf Breeze High School
Corey Ward FR 6-2 185 QB Hayden, Ala. Hayden High School
David Nuckolls FR 5-8 185 QB Stockbridge, Ga. Community Christian School
Hayden Dean FR 5-9 160 K Elmore County, Ala Elmore County High School
Holden Keith FR 5-11 195 OLB Locust Grove, Ga. Atlanta Sports Academy
Jacob Peters FR 6-2 230 DL Ariton, Ala. Ariton High School
Jamarkis Holmes FR 5-8 185 RB Jackson, Miss. Forrest Hills High School
Kaleb Backlin FR 6-3 180 WR Hurley, Miss. East Central High School
Kyle Glover FR 5-11 250 OL Harpersville, Ala. Coosa Valley Academy
Kyler Moore FR 6-0 300 OL Blountsville, Ala. Susan Moore High School
Nick Bell FR 5-10 170 WR Priceville, Ala. Priceville High School
Ryan Whisenant FR 5-11 275 OL Moody, Ala. Moody High School
Steven Ballard FR 6-1 250 OL Hayden, Ala. Hayden High School
Thomas Tucker FR 5-9 250 OL Quitman, Miss. Quitman High School
Tyler Worley FR 6-1 220 OL Port St. Joe, Fla. Port St. Joe High School
Tyson Floyd FR 6-3 215 DL Moody, Ala. Moody High School
Zack Kimmell FR 6-0 275 OL Covington, Ga. Eastside High School
Zach Sherrell FR 5-11 250 DL East Lawrence, Ala. East Lawrence High School
Zack Alexander FR 6-3 275 OL Marbury, Ala. Marbury High School
Zeke Sherrell FR 5-11 250 DL East Lawrence, Ala. East Lawrence High School
Kyle Sides FR 6-0 270 OL Holtville, Ala. Holtville High School
Kyler Moore FR 6-1 300 OL Blountsville, Ala. Susan Moore High School
Dustyn Howard FR 6-1 270 OL Panama City, Fla. Bay High School