MOBILE, Ala. – For the first time ever, University of South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones and his staff were able to offer prospective recruits an opportunity no other Jaguar has had the chance to experience — the ability to compete for a Sun Belt Conference championship and a berth in a bowl game.
The results can be seen as part of the 2013 recruiting class Jones announced at a 3 p.m. press conference at the football field house on National Signing Day. The group totaled 25 individuals after 17 returned National Letters-of-Intent and two more signed grants-in-aid with the school Wednesday.
“The reason we were able to get several of these really good football players is because we can go to a bowl game and we can win a championship,” said Jones. “The last few years we have been selling South Alabama, facilities, the city of Mobile — which are all great things to sell — but at the end of the day you’re going to get better players when you tell them you’re going to be on television a lot, go to bowl games and compete for a championship.
“There’s no doubt it especially helps with junior-college kids because they’ve only got a couple of years to play; they really don’t want to sit and wait for you and your program to evolve, they want it to happen right now. That’s the reason why I think we signed more quality junior-college kids.”
USA’s 2013 signing class included six junior-college transfers who inked papers with the program in December. The Jags added five more individuals from junior colleges on Wednesday, with 14 high school prospects signing as well. Thirteen of those prep athletes received at least two stars from at least one national recruiting service, including six who were rated three-star prospects and one who garnered four stars.
The group included individuals who received offers from or were recruited by Alabama, Florida State, South Carolina, Michigan, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Kansas State, Boise State, Arizona, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Utah State, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado State, Southern Mississippi, Georgia Tech, Troy, Georgia State, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Western Kentucky, Texas State, Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Memphis, UAB, Tulane, Ohio, Toledo, Marshall, Bowling Green and Massachusetts.
Up front, the Jaguars added four junior-college defensive linemen as well as one from the high school ranks. Akeem Lewis (Abbeville, La.) ranked among the leaders in the Southern California Football Association Central Division in both tackles for loss and sacks after posting 47 total stops with 14½ behind the line of scrimmage and nine sacks last fall at Los Angeles Harbor C.C. Jerome McClain (Pensacola, Fla.) helped lead Northwest Mississippi C.C. to a final National Junior College Association rank of No. 9 with 51 tackles including 10 for loss, while Theo Rich (Portal, Ga.) recorded 11½ tackles for loss among his 33 total stops at Itawamba (Miss.) C.C. in 2012.
DeMarion Harper (McComb, Miss.) sat out as a redshirt at Fort Scott (Kan.) C.C. in the fall, but had 38 tackles in seven contests the previous year at Highland (Kan.) C.C. Jacob Chaffin (Birmingham, Ala.) was a three-star recruit and among the top 50 prospects in Alabama according to ESPN.com after helping lead Spain Park H.S. to its first-ever region championship and a berth in the state 6A quarterfinals as a senior.
“We felt like we needed players on the defensive line; we answered that in a great way with the individuals we signed out of junior college,” explained Jones. “We signed three inside and one outside guy, all very, very good football players. These guys will step in and make a big difference on our team. Teams with good defensive lines always seem to have a good record, so if we can solidify that position — and I think we have done that — we can help ourselves there.”
Also signing on the defensive side of the ball on Wednesday were linebacker Tony Johnson (Sulligent, Ala.), and defensive backs Roman Buchanan (Daleville, Ala.), Devon Earl (Hoover, Ala.) and DeVonta Staples (Lanett, Ala.). Johnson led Southwest Mississippi C.C. in tackles last year, while during his prep career he helped Sulligent High to a state 2A championship. Earl was also a member of a state-title winning squad after helping Hoover H.S. claim the state 6A championship in the fall — he was named the Hoover area Athlete of the Year by the Birmingham News — while Buchanan posted 68 stops and forced eight fumbles in leading Daleville High to an undefeated regular season as a senior. Staples was a first-team all-state selection by the Alabama Sports Writers Association his final season at Valley High.
In December, the Jags inked defensive backs Steffon and Steven Fuller (Sccoba, Miss.) and Montell Garner (Euless, Texas), as well as linebacker Desmond Lavelle (Decatur, Ala.) from the junior-college ranks.
USA added a quartet in the offensive backfield, with high school seniors Kaleb Blanchard (Denham Springs, La.) and Xavier Johnson (Tampa, Fla.) joining junior-college transfers Cristobal Dinham (Lithonia, Ga.) and Jay Jones (Horn Lake, Miss.). Blanchard earned four stars from Rivals.com after ending a three-year career at Denham Springs H.S. with 3,079 yards rushing — the second-highest total in school history — and 41 touchdowns, while Johnson was named honorable mention all-state in the fall after recording 1,100 yards and 12 scores despite missing two games with an injury. Dinham and Jones ran for 1,012 and 504 yards, respectively, during the 2012 campaign as well.
At wide receiver, the Jaguars added Caleb Alves (Melbourne, Fla.) and Dejon Funderburk (Pensacola, Fla.). The former was a third-team all-state selection in the fall after leading Palm Beach Bay Senior H.S. in receptions and punt returns, while the latter was named honorable mention all-state following his senior season at Washington High; both earned three stars from ESPN.com.
“Offensively we felt like we needed more skill players, guys who have the ball in their hands,” stated Jones. “We signed four really good running backs — one being a hybrid who can also play receiver — who can make things happen. We also got a few good receivers including a couple of speed guys.”
The Jags added three other individuals on the offensive side of the ball, with Brett Sheehan (Collins Hill, Ga.), Caleb Hayman (Gainesville, Ga.) and Noah Armstrong (Moulton, Ala.) joining the program. Sheehan was rated the sixth-best quarterback in the state by ESPN.com after completing 185-of-276 passes for 2,351 yards and 22 scores as a senior at Collins Hill H.S., adding 268 yards and three touchdowns rushing. Hayman, a tight end, posted 11 receptions for 139 yards in the state AAAAA championship game last year for Gainesville H.S. — he would go on to earn all-state accolades from the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association — while Armstrong received three stars and ranked among the top 100 offensive tackles nationally by Rivals.com after starting for three years at Lawrence County High.
Also signing was PK Brandon McKee (Cumming, Ga.), who was named first-team all-state, all-region and all-county following his senior season at South Forsyth High.
The school also received grants-in-aid from Tevaris McCormick (Biloxi, Miss.) and Jalen Wells (Dublin, Ga.). McCormick, a wide receiver at Biloxi High, made three catches in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in December, while Wells was credited with 41 stops including 11 tackles for loss as a senior at Dublin H.S. to be named first-team all-region and all-Middle Georgia.
2013 South Alabama Football Signing Day Recruiting Class Capsules
Caleb Alves, 6-3, 175, WR, Melbourne, Fla., Palm Bay Senior HS Pirates
Pronounced AL-vez ... Received three stars from ESPN.com, and two from both Rivals.com and Scout.com … According to ESPN.com, was among the
top 30 wide receivers in the state … Ranked seventh in the Orlando Sentinel’s MidEast Florida Super 60 ... Helped the Pirates advance to the
quarterfinals of the state 6A playoffs; PBSHS finished the year 9-5 overall, winning the district title with a 4-0 mark … Was a third-team all-state selection
after catching a team-best 22 passes for 503 yards and six touchdowns ... Ranked second on the squad in scoring with 48 points ... Averaged 13.1
yards per punt return and also ran back five kickoffs for 115 more ... Offered a scholarship by Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Bowling
Green and Massachusetts as well.
Noah Armstrong, 6-7, 300, OL, Moulton, Ala., Lawrence County HS Red Devils
A three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, which had him ranked among the top 100 offensive tackles in the country … Also earned two stars from
ESPN.com and Scout.com … ESPN.com ranked him among the top 60 recruits in Alabama, including the fourth-best offensive tackle in the state ... Was
a three-year letterwinner at Lawrence County High ... Earned all-county honors following his senior season, and was named to WASF TV-48’s Elite 11
prior to the start of the year ... Had scholarship offers from Southern Mississippi, Arkansas State, Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee also.
Kaleb Blanchard, 6-0, 195, RB, Denham Springs, La., Denham Springs HS Yellow Jackets
Received four stars from Rivals.com, and three from ESPN.com and Scout.com … Rivals.com had him as the 35th-ranked running back in the nation,
while ESPN.com rated him fourth among running backs in the state … A three-year starter, he ranks second all-time in Denham Springs High’s record
books with 3,079 yards rushing; he scored 41 touchdowns on the ground and averaged 7.6 yards per carry during his four-year career … Recorded 891
yards and 15 scores on the ground as a senior, helping the Yellow Jackets to a berth in the state 5A playoffs … Added 11 receptions for 114 yards and a
touchdown, also scoring on a 90-yard kickoff return to end the season with a team-leading 17 touchdowns … Earned first-team all-district, all-parish and
all-metro honors ... Ran for just under 600 yards and six scores his junior year, which was cut short due to shoulder and hamstring injuries, as DSHS
participated in the state playoffs while posting a 7-4 record … As a sophomore, recorded a school season-record 1,799 yards and 21 touchdowns on
190 carries, averaging nearly 10 yards per run to be named both the district and parish player of the year ... Also was selected first-team all-district, allparish
and all-metro as his efforts helped the Yellow Jackets end the year 7-4 after qualifying for the state playoffs … Originally committed to Arkansas,
and had scholarship offers from Mississippi, Vanderbilt, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe as well.
Roman Buchanan, 6-2, 205, S, Daleville, Ala., Daleville HS Warhawks
Earned two stars from Rivals.com after starting all four years at Daleville High in a program that won 29 games and qualified for postseason action on
three occasions … Helped the Warhawks finish the 2012 regular season 9-0, winning the region championship and advancing to the state 3A playoffs …
Selected first-team all-state by the Alabama Sports Writers Association and was voted the team’s most valuable player after posting 68 tackles, a total
that included 18 stops for loss and seven sacks ... Forced eight fumbles, returned three fumbles for touchdowns and blocked three punts as well ... On
offense, recorded 23 catches for 533 yards and five touchdowns while rushing 18 times for 244 more yards and three scores ... Recorded more than 80
tackles as a junior, adding four passes defensed, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick to be named ASWA honorable mention
all-state as well as the Warhawks’ defensive MVP ... DHS finished 8-3 his sophomore year after qualifying for the state playoffs, while as a freshman he
helped the Warhawks to a 7-4 mark and a postseason berth ... Earned academic excellence awards each of the last two years ... Also had offers from
Southern Mississippi and UAB, and was recruited by Georgia Tech.
Jacob Chaffin, 6-3, 280, DL, Birmingham, Ala., Spain Park HS Jaguars
Pronounced CHAFE-in ... A three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, getting two stars from Rivals.com and Scout.com too … Was among the top 50
recruits in Alabama according to ESPN.com; the organization had him ranked among the top 10 defensive tackles in the state … A four-year letterwinner
at Spain Park High, where he earned all-metro honors and was a starter for three seasons ... Part of a Jaguar team that won the region title for the first
time in school history and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state 6A playoffs his senior season, finishing the year with a 10-3 record … SPHS also
reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs his freshman year en route to a 10-3 finish, while qualifying for postseason action his other two years on
the varsity ... Also had offers from Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Troy, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, and was recruited by
*Cristobal Dinham, 5-10, 210, RB, Lithonia, Ga., Lithonia HS Bulldogs/Independence (Kan.) CC Pirates
Led ICC with 1,012 yards rushing and 1,038 all-purpose yards ... Averaged 126.5 yards per game on the ground, which ranked fifth in the National
Junior College Athletic Association ... Carried 192 times, reaching the end zone a team-leading 10 times — the latter figure was among the top 20 in the
country in the category ... Rushed for 100 yards in five of his eight appearances, with the Pirates winning four of those contests ... In his final game for
ICC, carried 30 times for 276 yards and a score in a 31-24 victory over Highland (Kan.) CC ... Ran for 176 yards and a school game-record-tying four
touchdowns to lead the Pirates past Dodge City (Kan.) CC ... Recorded 136 yards and an average of 7.2 yards per carry against Coffeyville (Kan.) CC ...
Carried 25 times for 157 yards to lead the Pirates to a win over Southeast Prep, while the following week added 110 yards in a seven-point victory over
Arkansas Baptist CC ... Recruited out of junior college by Boise State, Utah State and Troy ... Sat out as a redshirt at Wayne (Neb.) State in 2010 ...
Prepped at Lithonia (Ga.) HS.
Devon Earl, 5-10, 185, CB, Hoover, Ala., Hoover HS Buccaneers
Pronounced deh-VONN ... Earned two stars from each of the three national recruiting services … Rated among the top 50 in the state by ESPN.com,
including fifth among cornerbacks … Credited with a solo stop in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, helping his squad 21-16 win … A three-year
starter at Hoover HS, earning a starting job his sophomore season — the Buccaneers posted a 42-3 overall mark during that span … Part of a team that
won the state 6A championship – finishing with an undefeated 15-0 mark – his senior season … Named the Hoover area Athlete of the Year by the
Birmingham News in 2012, and was first-team all-region and all-metro, after posting 58 tackles including 8½ for loss, six interceptions and five other
passes defended ... Also ran back punts for the Buccaneers, averaging 11 yards per return with a long of 51 yards ... Helped HHS advance to the title
game of the state playoffs his junior and sophomore years ... Also the starting point guard for the Buccaneer basketball squad ... Also offered a
scholarship from Southern Mississippi, Troy, Middle Tennessee and UAB ... Was recruited by Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia State as well.
*Steffon Fuller, 6-4, 205, S, Scooba, Miss., Kemper County HS Wildcats/East Central (Miss.) CC Warriors
Named first-team Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges South all-state last fall after recording 54 total tackles — 38 unassisted —
and four passes defensed ... Had season-high eight tackles on three occasions, against nationally ranked East Mississippi CC as well as victories over
Southwest Mississippi CC and Hinds (Miss.) CC ... Posted seven tackles in season finale against nationally ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast CC ...
Credited with six stops and two passes broken up in Mississippi Delta CC win ... Collected seven tackles in five games as a freshman for the Warriors ...
Prepped at Kemper County HS ... Also had offers from Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and Memphis, and was
recruited by Mississippi State.
*Steven Fuller, 6-4, 200, S, Scooba, Miss., Kemper County HS Wildcats/East Central (Miss.) CC Warriors
Played cornerback/nickel/wide receiver/all special teams units last year ... Finished with 12 tackles including three for loss, two pass break ups and a
blocked kick ... Added eight tackles on special teams units ... Caught seven passes for 95 yards on offense, and was also credited with 13 pancake
blocks on run plays ... Appeared in one contest his freshman season at the school ... Played as a prep at Kemper County High ... Also had offers from
Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and Memphis, and was recruited by Mississippi State.
Dejon Funderburk, 5-11, 160, WR, Pensacola, Fla., Washington HS Wildcats
Pronounced dee-ZHAHN ... Received three stars from both ESPN.com and Rivals.com, and was a two-star recruit according to Scout.com … Ranked
among the top 20 athletes in Florida and top 80 nationally by ESPN.com … Was chosen honorable mention all-state as a senior … As a junior, caught
31 passes for 720 yards and seven touchdowns, adding 362 yards and four scores on the ground ... Played quarterback as a freshman ... Also had
offers from Alabama, South Carolina, Florida State and Clemson among others.
*Montell Garner, 6-1, 185, CB, Euless, Texas, Colleyville Heritage HS Panthers/Navarro (Texas) JC Bulldogs
Efforts helped NJC finish 10-2 overall and fourth in the final National Junior College Athletic Association poll after a 30-23 victory over Georgia Military
JC in the C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl ... Credited with 23 tackles — including two for loss — eight passes broken up and an interception in five
contests ... Tied for fifth in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference in passes defensed ... Collected 10 stops and defended two passes in
victory at Kilgore (Texas) JC ... Broke up three passes in back-to-back outings against Blinn (Texas) JC and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, recording
seven tackles in the meeting with the former and five a week later ... Posted 21 tackles in eight outings as a freshman, adding a pair of interceptions and
four passes broken up to help the Bulldogs go 10-2 ... NJC defeated New Mexico Military Institute in the C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl to end the
season fifth in the final NJCAA rankings ... After going 4-2 in the regular season, NJC claimed the SJCFC championship with two playoff wins ... Had
offers from Kansas State and Texas State out of junior college ... Prepped at Colleyville Heritage HS.
DeMarion Harper, 6-3, 290, DL, McComb, Miss., Vicksburg Community HS Bulldogs/Fort Scott (Kan.) CC Greyhounds
Sat out as a redshirt last fall at Fort Scott (Kan.) CC ... As a freshman at Highland (Kan.) CC in 2011, was credited with 38 total tackles in seven games
... That included three stops for loss with one sack ... Also recruited in junior college by Kansas State, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Ohio and Toledo ...
Prepped at Vicksburg Community High.
Caleb Hayman, 6-3, 215, TE, Gainesville, Ga., Gainesville HS Red Elephants
Earned two stars from both ESPN.com and Rivals.com, with the former including him among its top 30 wideouts in the state … A two-year letterwinner
at Gainesville High ... Helped the Red Elephants to the state AAAAA championship his senior season, recording 11 catches for 139 yards in the title
game … A first-team all-state selection by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association ... Was named second-team all-state by the Associated Press and
was an honorable mention selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as well ... After missing the regular season as a junior, returned to play four
playoff games in helping GHS advance to the semifinals ... Also a two-year letterwinner in basketball for the Red Elephants ... Was also recruited by
Troy and Middle Tennessee.
Tony Johnson, 6-3, 240, LB, Sulligent, Ala., Sulligent HS Blue Devils/Southwest Mississippi CC Bears
Played the last two years at Southwest Mississippi CC, leading the squad in stops in 2012 … Collected a season-best 11 tackles, with two behind the
line, against Hinds (Miss.) CC last season … Also recorded a pair of stops for loss among his 10 total tackles in matchup with East Central (Miss.) CC …
As a freshman, posted 80 tackles including four behind the line of scrimmage for the Bears … Originally signed with Louisiana Tech out of junior college,
and was recruited by Memphis and UAB as well ... Helped lead Sulligent (Ala.) High to the state 2A championship game as a junior as the Blue Devils
ended the year 12-3.
Xavier Johnson, 5-11, 170, RB, Tampa, Fla., Chamberlain HS Chiefs
Each of the three recruiting services rated him as a two-star prospect … Was rated among the top 30 running backs in Florida by ESPN.com … A fouryear
letterwinner at Chamberlain High ... As a senior, rushed for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing two games due to injury ... Collected
honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district honors … Recorded more than 2,000 total yards and 18 touchdowns his junior season — with
nearly 1,736 of those and 16 scores coming on the ground — to be named second-team all-state and first-team all-district ... Also had offers from Middle
Tennessee, Florida Atlantic, Ohio, Toledo, Marshall and Massachusetts.
*Jay Jones, 5-9, 180, RB, Horn Lake, Miss., Horn Lake HS Eagles/Northeast Mississippi CC Tigers
Among the top 50 nationally in the fall in rushing after collecting 504 yards and three touchdowns ... Added 11 receptions for 150 yards and a score as
well ... Carried 29 times for 157 yards — both season-high totals — and a score in win at Jones County (Miss.) JC the second week of the season,
adding three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown ... The next week he recorded another 126 yards on the ground and a touchdown against Holmes
(Miss.) CC ... Posted 83 yards and a score in the season opener against Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) CC, also catching three passes for 23 yards ... Had
season-long 51-yard reception against East Mississippi CC ... Recruited by Mississippi, Arkansas State and Memphis out of junior college ... Prepped at
Horn Lake (Miss.) HS.
*Desmond LaVelle, 5-11, 230, LB, Decatur, Ala., Decatur HS Red Raiders/Northwest Mississippi CC Rangers
Helped the Rangers finish ninth in the final National Junior College Athletic Association poll after sharing the Mississippi Association of Community and
Junior Colleges North Division title ... Team finished 8-2 overall, 5-1 in league action following a victory over Kilgore (Texas) JC in the inaugural Brazos
Valley Bowl ... Part of a defense that was 14th nationally allowing 316.6 yards per game while forcing 37 turnovers ... Tied for fourth on the team with 53
total tackles, which included 4½ for a loss of 26 yards with a pair of sacks, to earn first-team all-league honors ... Also recovered two fumbles, and had
an interception and a pass defensed ... Credited with a season-best nine stops against Mississippi Gulf Coast CC in the MACJC playoffs ... Collected
seven tackles in a victory over Holmes (Miss.) CC, following with six each of the next two weeks against East Mississippi CC and Jones County (Miss.)
JC ... Posted five tackles in wins over Northeast Mississippi CC and Mississippi Delta CC, recording two and 1½ stops behind the line against the two,
respectively ... Recorded 25 tackles — including two for loss — an interception and a fumble recovery as a freshman at USA in 2011.
Akeem Lewis, 6-2, 250, DE, Abbeville, La., Abbeville HS Wildcats/Los Angeles Harbor CC Seahwawks
Posted 47 total tackles as a sophomore, including 14½ behind the line of scrimmage with nine sacks ... Tied for second in tackles for loss and tied for
third in sacks in the Southern California Football Association Central Division; ended the season tied for 10th in the state in sacks ... Also forced two
fumbles and recovered another, which he ran back 42 yards ... Credited with four passes broken up as well ... Helped the Seahawks end the year 6-5
overall, 4-2 and in third place in the division ... LAHCC advanced to the Golden State Bowl, where he made two solo stops including recording the
squad’s lone sack ... Had season-best seven stops — which included 2½ behind the line — against a Ventura (Calif.) JC team that went undefeated in
the regular season ... Collected season highs of 3½ tackles for loss and 2½ sacks in 17-6 victory over El Camino (Calif.) CC ... Recorded a pair of sacks
among his four stops against Riverside (Calif.) CC ... Credited with six tackles including two behind the line of scrimmage in shutout of Desert (Calif.) CC
... Had offers from Michigan, Arizona and Illinois out of junior college ... Played at Abbeville (La.) High.
Jerome McClain, 6-3, 275, DL, Pensacola, Fla., Pensacola HS Tigers/Northwest Mississippi CC Rangers
Helped NWMCC to an 8-2 record, which included a 5-1 mark in the in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges in the fall ...
Rangers ended up ninth in the final National Junior College Athletic Association rankings after defeating Kilgore (Texas) JC in the inaugural Brazos
Valley Bowl ... Part of a defense that was 14th nationally after allowing 316.6 yards per game and recording 37 takeaways ... Finished with 51 stops
including 10 behind the line of scrimmage — tied for second on the squad — and four sacks ... Intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and was credited
with a team-leading 10 quarterback hurries as well ... Posted eight tackles in back-to-back contests against Holmes (Miss.) CC and East Mississippi CC
... Collected six stops in the regular-season finale — a win over Jones County (Miss.) JC — as well as against Mississippi Gulf Coast CC in the MACJC
semifinals, and recorded five in the bowl victory ... Had at least one tackle behind the line in each of the last three contests, while earlier in the season he
recorded three in the HCC win and 2½ in a victory over Coahoma (Miss.) CC ... Received offers from Arizona State, Troy, Florida International, Florida
Atlantic, Memphis and UAB after concluding his junior-college career ... Was a prep at Pensacola (Fla.) High.
Tevaris McCormick, 5-10, 170, WR, Biloxi, Miss., Biloxi HS Indians
Received two stars from all three national recruiting organizations ... Had three catches in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in December
following the end of his senior season ... Finished his senior season with 42 receptions for 484 yards and a team-leading eight scores, adding 97 yards
and a touchdown rushing ... Had 41 receptions for 769 yards as a junior.
Brandon McKee, 6-1, 180, PK, Cumming, Ga., South Forsyth HS War Eagles
Earned two letters in football at South Forsyth HS; he didn’t play football until his junior season ... Named first-team all-state, all-region and all-county as
a senior after better than 45 yards per punt ... Missed just one field goal his final year, while 80 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks.
Theo Rich, 6-2, 270, DL, Portal, Ga., Portal HS Panthers/Itawamba (Miss.) CC Indians
Recorded 33 total stops with 11½ tackles for loss as ICC finished 2012 6-3 overall, 4-2 in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges
… That figure included four sacks … Forced three fumbles, broke up two passes and had an interception he returned 20 yards as well … Credited with a
season-best eight tackles – including three behind the line of scrimmage – and intercepted a pass in season finale, a one-point victory over East
Mississippi CC … Posted four stops with 1½ for loss in wins over Mississippi Delta CC and Northeast Mississippi CC … Recorded four stops – all
unassisted – with two for a loss of 11 yards, adding a forced fumble and a pass broken up, against Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) CC … Had two tackles for
loss among his three solo stops in contest with Holmes (Miss.) CC ... Had offers out of junior college from Cincinnati, Indiana, Colorado State, Middle
Tennessee and Memphis ... Originally signed with North Carolina State, recording five stops in five contests for the Wolfpack in 2011; NCSU finished the
season 8-5 after defeating Louisville in the Belk Bowl ... Played only one season as a prep at Portal (Ga.) High, starting at both defensive end and wide
receiver ... A first-team all-region selection after posting 45 tackles — which included 12 stops for loss and seven sacks — three forced fumbles and two
fumble recoveries ... On offense, added 11 catches for 190 yards and a score, earning team MVP honors.
Brett Sheehan, 6-3, 170, QB, Collins Hill, Ga., Collins Hill HS Eagles
Received three stars from Scout.com, and was a two-star recruit according to ESPN.com and Rivals.com … Rated the sixth-best quarterback in the
state and among the top 100 in the country by ESPN.com … Played in the Gwinnett County All-Star Game following the conclusion of his high school
career ... A three-year letterwinner and two-year starter at Collins Hill High ... Voted first-team all-region and second-team all-county as a senior after
leading CHHS to a berth in the state AAAAAA playoffs … Completed 185-of-276 pass attempts for 2,351 yards and 22 touchdowns his final year despite
missing three games due to injury ... Rushed for 268 yards and three scores on 59 carries as well ... Threw for more than 1,300 yards as a junior ...
Played safety and was the backup quarterback his sophomore season on an Eagle squad that finished 10-4 after advancing to the semifinals of the state
AAAAA playoffs ... Originally committed to Florida International and also had an offer from Georgia State.
DeVonta Staples, 6-1, 190, S, Lanett, Ala., Valley HS
Pronounced dee-VONN-tay ... Scout.com gave him two stars in the recruiting rankings ... Prepped at Valley High .... Named first-team all-state by the
Alabama Sports Writers Association his senior season ... Helped the Rams go undefeated in region play to claim the title, as they would end the year 9-3
after winning a first-round state 5A playoff contest ... Credited with 115 stops and two forced fumbles as a junior, also intercepting one pass ... On
special teams that fall, he added 460 kickoff return yards while running back one kickoff for a touchdown.
Jalen Wells, 6-5, 230, DE, Dublin, Ga., Dublin HS Fighting Irish
A three-star recruit according to Scout.com ... Lettered for two years at Dublin High ... Was first-team all-region and all-Middle Georgia as a senior after
collecting 41 total stops — which included 23 unassisted — with 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks ... His first year on the varsity, helped the Fighting
Irish advance to the quarterfinals of the state AA playoffs en route to a 9-3 overall record ... Cousin of Erik Walden, a linebacker for the Green Bay
Packers since the middle of the 2010 season who has spent five years in the National Football League.
*Denotes junior-college transfer who signed in December