Western Carolina second-year head football coach Mark Speir today announced the signing of 21 student-athletes - all high school seniors - to National Letters of Intent
to play football for the Catamounts beginning in the fall of 2013. One member of Speir's second incoming class - running back Garry Lewis (Fayetteville, N.C. /Douglas Byrd HS) - enrolled in classes at WCU for the spring semester, bringing the current incoming class count to 22.
WCU anticipates signing at least one more to complete the 2013 incoming class.
"We're excited to welcome these football players to the Catamount Nation today," said Speir on Wednesday. "We feel like we addressed a lot of our football team's needs on both sides of the ball with quality student-athletes. Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work not only by our coaching staff, but also the efforts of our Catamount Club, the staff across our campus and our administration."
He added, "A lot of these players are coming from quality, winning programs and have experience with winning state championships at the high school level. We feel like each one of these recruits is a winner and is going to help our program reach new heights."
Looking at the class as a whole, all 22 hail from three Southern states representing North Carolina (13), Georgia (7) and South Carolina (2). Eleven of the 22 players brought in are on offense with 11 on the defensive side of the ball. A combined nine will play on either the offensive or defensive line with four linebackers and four offensive skill players. Five of WCU's incoming freshmen garnered two-star ratings by Rivals.com.
"Offensively, we feel like we added a lot of depth to a productive unit. On defense, we feel like we've brought in players that have an opportunity to make an immediate impact on the field this fall," said Speir.
Western Carolina Football and the Catamount Club will host a National Signing Day reception in conjunction with the Catamounts' home men's basketball game on-campus in Cullowhee on Monday, Feb. 11. The event will be held in the first floor Hospitality Room in the Ramsey Center as a part of the pregame "Purple Zone" prior to WCU's Southern Conference match-up with the Wofford Terriers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.
The event, which is open to the public, will begin at 4:00 pm with a meet-and-greet, and will include light refreshments. Speir will introduce the members of his coaching staff with each recruiting coach presenting the members of the 2013 incoming class with video highlights of each signee.
The Catamount football team is scheduled to break winter gym and open its annual spring drills on March 13 with the NCAA-mandated 15 practices to be spread over five weeks. Practice will culminate with a spring event tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 20 in Cullowhee.
2013 Western Carolina Catamount Football Incoming Class
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (Previous School)
Brandon Berridge OL 6-4 250 Sophia, N.C. (Randleman HS)
Tyson Dickson LB 6-1 215 Ellenwood, Ga. (Cedar Grove HS)
Steffon Hill WR 6-0 185 Hendersonville, N.C. (East Henderson HS)
Austin Jacobs OL 6-4 260 Four Oaks, N.C. (Cleveland HS)
Justin James OL 6-2 285 Savannah, Ga. (Calvary Day)
Ethan James OL 6-2 250 Hudson, N.C. (South Caldwell HS)
Bryson Jordan LB 6-2 195 Flowery Branch, Ga. (Buford HS)
Garry Lewis RB 5-9 185 Fayetteville, N.C. (Douglas Byrd HS)
Stedman Lucas LB 6-2 225 Orangeburg, S.C. (Orangeburg-Wilkinson HS)
Andrew Mayton DL 6-3 235 Midway, N.C. (North Davidson HS)
Trey Morgan DB 6-1 180 North Augusta, S.C. (North Augusta HS)
Daniel Nash DL 6-3 215 Holly Springs, N.C. (Holly Springs HS)
Detrez Newsome RB 5-10 180 Raeford, N.C. (Hoke County HS)
Fred Payne DB 5-11 185 Gainesville, Ga. (Gainesville HS)
Roderick Poag TE 6-3 215 Marshville, N.C. (Forest Hills HS)
Tanner Poindexter OL 6-3 285 Pfafftown, N.C. (Ronald Reagan HS)
Willie Police WR 5-10 175 Marietta, Ga. (Lassiter HS)
Tyler Sexton TE 6-4 215 Flat Rock, N.C. (East Henderson HS)
Tommy Tate LB 6-2 220 Norcross, Ga. (Norcross HS)
Kelvin Ume DL 6-3 260 Acworth, Ga. (North Cobb HS)
Tahjai Watt DL 6-5 210 Charlotte, N.C. (North Mecklenburg HS)
Avery Worsham DL 6-1 205 Indian Trail, N.C. (Porter Ridge HS)
OL - 6-4 - 250 lbs.
Sophia, N.C. (Randleman HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played both offensive and defensive line at Randleman High for head coach Shane Handy ... Played at right tackle on the offensive line ... Recorded 30 tackles including 20 solo stops as a senior ... Credited with four quarterback hurries ... Tabbed as "perhaps the best lineman in (Randolph) County" by MyRandolphSports.com, earning All-County plaudits as a senior.
Personal: Has a younger brother, Bradley.
LB - 6-1 - 215 lbs.
Ellenwood, Ga. (Cedar Grove HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played in 22 games as a two-year varsity letter winner at Cedar Grove High ... As a senior, finished third on the team with 88 total tackles including 55 solo stops and seven tackles for loss ... Credited with two quarterback sacks ... Had 31 tackles during his junior season with 21 solo hits.
Personal: Is the son of Tyson Dickson and Terria Brown.
WR - 6-0 - 185 lbs.
Hendersonville, N.C. (East Henderson HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played both wide receiver and defensive back for head coach - and former Catamount - Brett Chappell ... Was a two-time All-Western North Carolina Athletic Conference selection ... Caught 55 passes for 960 yards and six touchdowns to go along with 274 rushing yards with a TD on the ground ... Defensively, credited with 33.5 tackles and an INT in his final season as a prep ... Tabbed as the WNC Athletic Conference's Special Teams Player of the Year ... As a junior, made 43 receptions for 814 yards and eight touchdowns while also rushing for 405 yards and four TDs ... On defense, had a pair of interceptions ... One of just 100 players to attend the invitation-only Shrine Bowl combine in the summer of 2012.
Personal: Full name is Steffon Ardul Hill ... Son of Kenya and Grover Hill.
OL - 6-4 - 260 lbs.
Four Oaks, N.C. (Cleveland HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played along the offensive and defensive line at Cleveland HS for head coach Marc Morris, leading the Rams to an 11-win season and the eastern 3-AA regional championship game in 2012 ... As a senior, earned All-Eastern Carolina Conference (ECC) honors ... Recorded 69 tackles including 29 tackles for loss, five sacks, recovered three fumbles while forcing two and had an interception ... In November of 2012, was named the Student-Athlete of the Week by the Raleigh Sports Club ... As a junior, earned ECC Defensive Player of the Year accolades.
Personal: Full name is Austin Taylor Jacobs ... Is the son of John and Amy Jacobs ... Has two brothers, Zach and Ben.
OL - 6-2 - 250 lbs.
Hudson, N.C. (South Caldwell HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a three-year varsity starter for South Caldwell High and head coach Butch Carter helping the Spartans to back-to-back conference championships in his final two seasons ... Was a two-time All-Northwestern 3A/4A Conference selection and twice named first team All-Caldwell County ... Named the team Offensive MVP as a junior and senior while serving as a team captain both seasons ... As a senior, was selected to the East-West All-Star game ... Could see time as a long-snapper for the Catamounts.
Personal: Full name is Ethan Michael James ... Is the son of Mick and Laurie James ... Has one sibling, Landyn.
OL - 6-2 - 285 lbs.
Savannah, Ga. (Calvary Day)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a two-time All-Region 3-A first team selection, as well as an All-Savannah Morning News first team honoree, leading the offensive line ... Earned second team All-State accolades at the Class A level ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Personal: Full name is Justin Anthony James ... Is the son of Phillip and Lora James.
LB - 6-2 - 195 lbs.
Flowery Branch, Ga. (Buford HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Helped lead Buford High to the Georgia Class AAA championship, tallying eight tackles in the title game ... Forced and returned a fumble for a touchdown during the playoff run to the championship game ... Selected to the Gwinnett All-Star game at linebacker as a senior ... Also played basketball as a prep where he was mentioned by ESPNHS Georgia All-State Hoops, listed among the top high school players in the state.
Personal: Is the son of Brian and Pam Jordan ... Both parents played collegiate sports at the University of Richmond - his father played college football and baseball and his mother was a women's basketball standout ... Brian was drafted in the first round of the 1988 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals and then the seventh round of the 1989 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills ... Played both professional football (Atlanta Falcons, 1989-91) and professional baseball (St. Cardinals, 1992-98; Atlanta Braves, 1999-01-2005-06; Los Angeles Dodgers, 2002-03; and Texas Rangers, 2004).
RB - 5-9 - 185 lbs.
Fayetteville, N.C. (Douglas Byrd HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Enrolled at Western Carolina in the spring semester and is on-campus in January ... Rushed for over 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns in three seasons at Douglas Byrd High including over 1,200 yards his senior season ... Tabbed the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Athlete of the Year, garnering all-conference accolades... Earned Cumberland County Prep Athlete of the Week three times as a senior ... In 2011, rushed for 884 yards and 11 touchdowns ... As a high school sophomore, rushed for 575 yards on 92 carries with six touchdowns ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Personal: Full name is Garry Lloyd Lewis, Jr. ... Is the son of Garry and Tracy Lewis.
LB - 6-2 - 225 lbs.
Orangeburg, S.C. (Orangeburg-Wilkinson HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played tight end and linebacker in high school ... Recorded 139 tackles over his final two seasons as a prep including 66 stops as a senior and 73 hits as a junior ... Led Orangeburg-Wilkinson back to the state playoffs in 2012 for the first-time in six years ... Posted seven sacks combined over the two years, with nine pass deflections, three forced fumbles and 12 total tackles for loss during his senior season.
Personal: Is the son of Steven and Jeanette Lucas ... His older brother, Sterling, played linebacker at North Carolina State.
DL - 6-3 - 235 lbs.
Midway, N.C. (North Davidson HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A four-year varsity letter winner, helped North Davidson High and head coach Mark Holcomb to the 4-A state playoffs all four seasons including a 14-1, Western Region runner-up finish as a senior ... Finished his prep career with 292 tackles and 47.5 career sacks including leading the state of North Carolina with 23.5 sacks as a senior ... Had a career-high 103 tackles and forced three fumbles in his final season at NDHS ... Was a two-time All-Central Piedmont Conference selection, earning both the CPC's and Davidson County's Defensive Player of the Year plaudits as a senior ... Also a two-time All-Northwest pick by the Winston-Salem Journal ... Tabbed All-State by NCPreps ... Moving up to the varsity squad as a freshman, recorded a quarterback sack and forced a fumble in his first game to earn his roster spot ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Personal: Full name is Andrew Raymond Mayton ... Is the son of Buddy and Chantel Mayton ... Has a younger sister, Jordan ... His uncle, Robert Mayton, won a state championship as the coach at Thomasville High ... Was also a two-year varsity letter winner in baseball in high school and played for Lexington Post 8 in the American Legion summer league ... Learned to play the piano.
DB - 6-1 - 180 lbs.
North Augusta, S.C. (North Augusta HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played wide receiver and safety for head coach Dan Pippin at North Augusta High, leading the Yellow Jackets to the Division II Class AAAA state quarterfinals ... Helped North Augusta win 44 games over the past four seasons ... Tabbed the Augusta Chronicle's South Carolina Football Player of the Year, as well as the 2012 Aiken Standard Defensive Player of the Year ... As a senior, recorded 119 tackles and three interceptions on defense ... Rushed for 226 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 38 carries, adding 441 receiving yards and five TDs, earning his team's MVP award ... Scored a touchdown ever 4.7 times he touched the ball on offense ... Selected to play in the North-South All-Star game.
Personal: Full name is Trey DeShaun Morgan ... Is the son of Lewuana Morgan ... Has one older sibling ... Grew up around mechanics and automotive work, likes to fix things and to work on cars.
DL - 6-3 - 215 lbs.
Holly Springs, N.C. (Holly Springs HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Earned All-Tri-Nine Conference accolades as a senior, garnering first team defense honors ... Selected as the Holly Springs High Defensive Player of the Year ... Played as a defensive lineman and linebacker as a prep ... Was named the overall MVP as a junior at the National Underclassmen combine held in Greensboro.
Personal: Full name is Daniel Lawrence Nash ... Is the son of Evelyn Worthy and step-father, Patrick Worthy ... Was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. ... Has an older brother, Michael Bayon Jr ... Is a member of the media ministry at his church, Wake Chapel, where he operates the boom camera during Sunday services.
RB - 5-10 - 180 lbs.
Raeford, N.C. (Hoke County HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Named the Southeastern 4-A co-Offensive Player of the Year by the Fayetteville Observer, tallying all-conference accolades ... According to NCPreps.com, rushed for over 2,000 yards on over 240 carries with 37 touchdowns as a senior ... Recorded 402 yards on the ground on 20 rushes for an average of 20.1 yards per carry, scoring six touchdowns in the 2012 season-opener against Wilmington Ashley HS ... It was the 23rd time a 400-plus yard game had been reported to the NCHSAA ... Also ran track & field as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Jermine Detrez Newsome ... Is the son of Yolanda Newsome.
DB - 5-11 - 185 lbs.
Gainesville, Ga. (Gainesville HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A four-year varsity letter winner, credited with 360 career tackles with 14 interceptions and a quarterback sack ... Was a two-time first team All-Area selection and earned All-State in his final season ... As a senior, posted a career-high 121 tackles and five INTs while also catching five passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns ... Had a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD against Apalachee High ... Returned an interception 72 yards and a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown in a state playoff game ... Additionally tallied five receptions for 296 yards and four receiving touchdowns in his final season as a prep ... Finished with a career-best 136 total tackles including 88 solo stops as a junior ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Personal: Full name is Fredtavious Diquan Payne ... Is the son of Anita Harrison, grandmother Edith Williams and aunt, Crystal Wilmont ... Has two siblings - Anika Carrington and Nikita Payne ... His cousin, A.J. Johnson, plays football at Tennessee ... Worked as a mentor and volunteered with local elementary schools and the Boys & Girls Club.
TE - 6-3 - 215 lbs.
Marshville, N.C. (Forest Hills HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Two-year varsity letter winner at Forest Hills High ... Tallied 87 career tackle including 1.5 sacks and six career interceptions ... Named to the All-Rocky River Conference team ... Recorded 30 tackles as a senior including a season-high six at Porter Ridge HS ... Led the Yellow Jackets with five interceptions on defense, returning three for touchdowns ... the five picks ranked him tied for sixth in the school's record books ... Added 110 yards receiving on two receptions - both touchdown catches - and rushed for a two-point conversion for 32 career points ... Also played basketball as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Roderick Devonta Poag ... Is the son of Dean Poag and Michelle Downey, step-mother Stella Poag ... Has a brother, Buddy Ro Poag and a step-brother, Jamarcus Culp.
OL - 6-3 - 285 lbs
Pfafftown, N.C. (Ronald Reagan HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Is the first four-year player in Ronald Regan High history to sign with a NCAA Division I program ... Named All-Central Piedmont Conference at guard along the offensive line, keying Ronald Regan High to an 8-4 season and the school's first-ever playoff berth ... Garnered All-Northwest accolades from the Winston-Salem Journal ... Selected to the North Carolina roster in the 2012 Shrine Bowl, playing every snap at center ... Was named the offensive line MVP as a junior at the National Underclassmen combine held in Greensboro ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Personal: Full name is Tanner Edward Poindexter ... Is the son of Clay and Vicky Poindexter.
WR - 5-10 - 175 lbs.
Marietta, Ga. (Lassiter HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Named the Region 5-AAAAAA Offensive Player of the Year ... Tabbed second team offense at wide receiver in the 2012 Georgia Sportswriters Association (GSWA) All-State ... Also listed on the 2012 Football All-Senior team by the GPB Sports Blog ... An All-County WR, was selected to the Cobb County All-Star Senior Bowl ... Recorded a 206-yard receiving performance against Kell High in Sept. of 2012 which included a 90-yard touchdown catch as a part of the four TD game ... Earned the TD Club of Atlanta's Back of the Week honor ... Played running back as a junior.
Personal: Is the son of Shunta Hammond.
TE - 6-4 - 215 lbs.
Flat Rock, N.C. (East Henderson HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played both tight end and defensive end for head coach - and former Catamount - Brett Chappell ... Was a two-time All-Western North Carolina Athletic Conference selection as a junior and senior ... Named a Times-News All-Area selection ... As a senior, caught 35 passes for 779 yards and 18 touchdowns, a school record for a tight end ... Also credited with 35 tackles on defense ... Named the TE MVP as a junior at the National Underclassmen combine ... Also played basketball as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Aaron Tyler Sexton ... Is the son of Charles and Jodi Sexton.
LB - 6-2 - 220 lbs.
Norcross, Ga. (Norcross HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Named first team All-State in Georgia's highest classification (Class AAAAAA) as a senior, guiding Norcross High to a 15-0 record and the 2012 state championship ... Posted two double-digit tackle games during the state playoffs for the Blue Devils including 18 stops against Colquitt County and 15 tackles in a win over Camden County High ... Recorded 183 total tackles including 117 solo stops as a senior ... Credited with four pass breakups, two sacks, two forced fumbles, three quarterback hurries and a blocked punt in his final year as a prep ... Was an All-County selection by the Gwinnett Touchdown Club ... Additionally handled punting duties for Norcross High, posting a 33.7 average including a season-long 47 yarder ... Tallied 110 total tackles as a junior.
Personal: Is the son of Laura Tate and Tom Tate.
DL - 6-3 - 260 lbs.
Acworth, Ga. (North Cobb HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Split time along the defensive line as a defensive end and tackle ... Came to the United States from Nigeria in the early 2000's and did not play football until his freshman year of high school in Ohio ... Finished with 85 tackles as a senior, leading the North Cobb Warriors to an 11-3 season and berth in the Class AAAAA state semifinals ... Posted a 16-tackle game in a win over Valdosta, helping limit the opposing offense to just 22 rushing yards ... Was an honorable mention on the All-County team and was selected to the Cobb County All-Star Senior Bowl.
Personal: Full name is Chibuzor Kelvin Ume ... Is the son of Chi-Chi Ume-Love ... Has a brother, Kenny.
DL - 6-5 - 210 lbs.
Huntersville, N.C. (North Mecklenburg HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Two-time All-I-Meck Conference selection who was a conference player of the year finalist as a senior ... Played both ways as a defensive end and a tight end on offense ... Also played power forward on the basketball court as a prep earning all-conference accolades.
Personal: Full name Tahjai Henri Watt ... Is the son of Todd Lynch and Constance Watt, both of whom played sports in college ... Has one sibling, Eric Lynch.
DL - 6-1 - 205 lbs.
Indian Trail, N.C. (Porter Ridge HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Helped guide Porter Ridge High to the NCHSAA football finals two-straight season as the Western Region champion ... Playing as a defensive end, recorded 90 total tackles including 20 for loss as a senior as a part of earning the Southern Carolina Conference Defensive Player of the Year accolades ... Credited with 10 quarterback sacks, 21 QB hurries, four fumble recoveries including one for a touchdown and one interception ... Was selected to the first team defense on the Charlotte Observer All-Area team ... Had 68 total tackles as a junior with 10.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries.
Personal: Full name is Avery Maurice Worsham ... Is the son of Antonio and Latonja Worsham ... Has an older sister, Kayla, who serves in the United State Army.