With the balance slightly shifted to the defensive side of the football, Western Carolina and head coach Mark Speir today announced the signing of 19 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to play
football for the Catamounts beginning in the fall of 2014.
Speir's initial incoming class at WCU back in 2012 featured 17 student-athletes including 15 signed on National Signing Day. The program compiled an incoming class of 24 a year ago with 23 putting ink to paper on the first Wednesday of February, 2013.
"We are very excited about the 19 student-athletes that have signed their National Letter of Intent to play football at Western Carolina University," Speir said on Wednesday afternoon. "We feel like this group addresses some needs to help advance our program to a championship level. Overall, we think this is a well-rounded class of quality student-athletes that are going to represent Western Carolina well both on and off the field."
Looking at the class as a whole, all 19 incoming student-athletes are scattered between four Southern states representing Georgia (9), North Carolina (8), South Carolina (1) and Florida (1). Ten of the players are expected to contribute on the defensive side of the ball with eight on offense and one listed as an athlete. There are eight linemen evenly distributed between the offensive and defensive lines with four skill players on offense and six between the linebackers and defensive secondary.
"With those eight linemen, we've added a group with good size to help us compete in the trenches," said Speir. "We continued to add talent to our skill positions on both sides of the ball. On offense, we were able to add a quarterback with a lot of leadership skills and a big, powerful running back that we have been missing. With the addition of a couple big linebackers to accompany those defensive tackles, we feel we have improved our ability to stop our opponents' running attack, while also adding some depth in our secondary."
Three of Western Carolina's incoming freshmen garnered two-star ratings from Rivals.com.
On Saturday (Feb. 8) afternoon, 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. 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 final regular season Southern Conference match-up with the Appalachian State Mountaineers, presented by Amy Manshack State Farm Insurance. Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets for the basketball game in advance of the signing day reception.
For the convenience of Catamount Club members, there will also be a special "Purple Zone" set-up on the Ramsey Center concourse for those just attending the basketball game, which tips at 2:00 pm.
The signing day event, which is open to the public, will begin at Noon and will include light refreshments. Speir will present the members of the 2014 incoming class with video highlights of each signee. The event will also be streamed LIVE free-of-charge through Catamount All-Access, online at CatamountSports.com.
"With the added incoming players, we are excited about our 2014 schedule, and look forward to getting back on the practice field this spring with our returners to continue to get better every day," Speir concluded.
Season tickets for the 2014 season are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office and online at CatamountSports.com. With WCU celebrating its 125th anniversary, fans can purchase a reserved adult season ticket for all six home games for just $125 with youth reserved starting at $65. Returning season ticket holders must renew their season tickets by June 30, 2014. Fans can call the ticket office toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401.
Speir and the football coaching staff anticipate breaking winter gym and opening spring drills in Cullowhee on March 18 with the NCAA-mandated 15 practices to be spread over four weeks. Practice will culminate with a spring event, presented by Wells Fargo, scheduled for Sat., April 12 in Cullowhee.
2014 Western Carolina Catamount Football Incoming Class
Updated Wed., Feb. 5, 2014 - 1:45 pm
Time Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (Previous School)
7:01 AM Phillips Marshall DT 6-2 245 lbs. Charleston, S.C. (Porter-Gaud HS)
7:01 AM Chris Seaborn S 6-2 200 lbs. Atlanta, Ga. (B.E.S.T Academy)
7:01 AM Kaleb Spry OL 6-2 285 lbs. Kannapolis, N.C. (A.L. Brown HS)
7:01 AM Kendall White LB 5-11 210 lbs. Jacksonville, N.C. (White Oak HS)
7:03 AM Jordan Mathis WR 5-10 180 lbs. Marietta, Ga. (Marietta HS)
7:25 AM Tyran Reynolds WR 6-1 185 lbs. Crystal River, Fla. (Crystal River HS)
7:33 AM Andrew Miles OL 6-4 280 lbs. Flowery Branch, Ga. (Flowery Branch HS)
7:34 AM Jackson McDonald QB 5-11 190 lbs. Flowery Branch, Ga. (Flowery Branch HS)
7:38 AM Corey Holloway RB 5-10 215 lbs. Atlanta, Ga. (Eagle's Landing HS)
7:40 AM Derrick Davis DT 6-0 285 lbs. Lexington, N.C. (Central Davidson HS)
7:57 AM Nathan Dalton OL 6-7 305 lbs. East Flat Rock, N.C. (East Henderson HS)
8:39 AM Ezavian Dunn DT 6-2 315 lbs. Carrboro, N.C. (Carrboro HS)
9:00 AM Devonté Baker CB 5-9 160 lbs. Spring Lake, N.C. (Pine Forest HS)
9:14 AM Tyler Junius DT 6-0 290 lbs. Winder, Ga. (Winder-Barrow HS)
9:15 AM Breante Glover LB 6-1 245 lbs. LaGrange, Ga. (LaGrange HS)
9:30 AM Tra Hardy Athlete 5-11 175 lbs. Vidalia, Ga. (Vidalia HS)
9:42 AM Chase Stehling OL 6-4 265 lbs. Lincolnton, N.C. (North Lincoln HS)
11:10 AM Alphaeus Newman, Jr. S 6-1 190 lbs. Ellenwood, Ga. (Cedar Grove HS)
11:52 AM Keion Crossen CB 5-10 160 lbs. Jackson, N.C. (Northampton County HS)
CB - 5-9 - 160 lbs.
Spring Lake, N.C. (Pine Forest HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played both wide receiver and defensive back as a prep ... Named All-Mid South Conference and a team MVP as a senior, guiding the Trojans to a 10-2 record and NCHSAA playoff berth ... Finished 2013 with 39 tackles as a senior ... Recorded five interceptions - tied for the fourth-most in Cumberland County - and returned three for touchdowns ... On offense, caught 18 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown while also rushing 21 times for 143 yards and three scores ... Also ran track as a prep ... High school coach was Bill Sochovka.
Personal: Is the son of Wayne Baker and Keisha Armstrong and stepmother, Sherry Baker ... Has a sister, Tamia Morgan.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Catawba, Wingate and Livingstone.
CB - 5-10 - 160 lbs.
Jackson, N.C. (Northampton County HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A four-sport athlete who played quarterback and in the defensive secondary as a safety on the football gridiron ... Rushed for 1,752 yards and 20 touchdowns on offense and recorded a team-high seven interceptions as a senior... Recorded a 419 yard rushing performance with four touchdowns in a win over Granville Central ... Named N.C. Preps 1-A All-State as a defensive back ... Earned "best camper" title at the Steve Wilkes Defensive Back Camp ... Also ran track as a prep, finishing second in the state at the 1-A level in the 400-meter dash ... High school coach was George Privott.
OL - 6-7 - 305 lbs.
East Flat Rock, N.C. (East Henderson HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was named the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference lineman of the year ... Named to the Asheville Citizen-Times All-WNC team ... Graded out at 90-percent with 46 pancake blocks for East Henderson ... Selected to represent North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl ... Also played along the defensive front, finishing with 67 tackles including 29 solo stops ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over The Citadel, Gardner-Webb, Mercer, Presbyterian and a walk-on offer at N.C. State
DT - 6-0 - 285 lbs.
Lexington, N.C. (Central Davidson HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A three-year varsity letter winner ... Was a two-time All-Mid-Piedmont 3-A Conference along the defensive line and three-time all-county ... Finished his senior season with 87 tackles including 37 solo stops and two sacks, often drawing double-team blocks ... Recorded 244 career tackles including 21 career sacks and forced five fumbles ... Holds the CDHS all-time tackles for loss record ... Won the Defensive Line MVP award at the National Underclassmen (NUC) five star camp held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in March of 2013 ... Also participated in track & field as a prep, earning all-county, and all-state honors as a junior ... High school coach was Chad Tedder.
Personal: Is the son of Derrick Sr., and Bobbie Jo Davis.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Davidson, Harvard, North Carolina A&T, and a walk-on offer at North Carolina.
DT - 6-2 - 315 lbs.
Carrboro, N.C. (Carrboro HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a two-time All-Carolina 10 2A/1A Conference lineman ... In 2012, was named All-Area as an offensive lineman ... Also played basketball as a prep ... High school coach was Jason Tudryn.
Personal: Is the son of Beverly Thompson.
LB - 6-1 - 245 lbs.
LaGrange, Ga. (LaGrange HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a three-year starter at linebacker ... Was selected to play in the 2013 D.I. Scott Coalition Bowl in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. ... High school coach was Donnie Branch.
Personal: Full name is Breante Glover, but prefers to go by Tay ... Is the son of Carl Towns and Debra Dunson.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Chattanooga.
Athlete - 5-11 - 175 lbs.
Vidalia, Ga. (Vidalia HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A solid, all-round performer who is a three-sport standout ... Was named to the AJC AA All-State team and the 2-AA Offensive Player of the Year ... Rushed for 1,672 yards and 24 touchdowns with 109 receiving yards and two scores ... Defensively, recorded an interception, returning it 90 yards for a touchdown against Atkinson County ... Started three years at cornerback ... Was also key in the Indians' special teams on kick returns, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in earning first team All-Middle Georgia honors ... Scored six touchdowns in a single game against Metter on Sept. 27, 2013, compiling 183 rushing yards on 17 carries with a 55-yard TD reception ... Earned Enmark Player of the Week accolades during his final season ... Also played basketball and baseball as a prep ... High school coach was Lee Chomskis.
Personal: Full name is Travares Hardy, but prefers to go by Tra (pronounced Tray) ... Is the son of Gregg Hardy and Constance Durden.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Kennesaw State.
RB - 5-10 - 215 lbs.
Atlanta, Ga. (Eagle's Landing HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a four-year varsity letter winner in football ... Is a physical runner with good vision that amassed over 1,300 all-purpose yards including 1,093 on the ground en route to earning his team's MVP award as a senior, helping Eagle's Landing High record a school-record for wins ... Led the team with 10 rushing touchdowns as a part of first team All-Region honors at running back ... Recorded 200 receiving yards as a senior ... Also saw time on defense at linebacker over his final two seasons, tallying 44 tackles including 34 solo stops ... Earned the Good Citizenship Award from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution ... As a junior, rushed for 1,449 yards and nine touchdowns ... High school coach was Joe Teknipp.
Personal: Full name is Corey Justin Holloway ... Is the son of G. Reginald and Donna J.L. Holloway ... Is one of four children in the Holloway family.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Georgia State, Kennesaw State, and Presbyterian.
DT - 6-0 - 290 lbs.
Winder, Ga. (Winder-Barrow HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a four-year starter on both the offensive and defensive line ... Earned first team all-region offensive line for 8-AAAAA in Georgia as a senior ... Finished his senior season with 44.5 tackles including 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks ... High school coach was David Wagner.
Personal: Is the son of Joseph and Melinda Junius ... Has a brother, Joey, whom with he played high school football.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Georgia State, Presbyterian and Point University.
DT - 6-2 - 245 lbs.
Charleston, S.C. (Porter-Gaud HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played along both the offensive and defensive line ... Named to the High School Sports Report (HSSR)-South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) Class AAA All-State team ... Credited with 61 total tackles as a senior including 22 solo stops and 8.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks ... High school coach was Rick Reetz.
Personal: Is the son of Sarah Marshall.
WR - 5-10 - 180 lbs.
Marietta, Ga. (Marietta HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Three-year varsity letter winner who earned honorable mention all-conference accolades twice before garnering second team honors as a senior... Recorded 42 receptions for 662 yards and eight touchdowns for the Blue Devils, who finished 8-3 and earned a state playoff trip ... Added 74 rushing yards and a TD on the ground ... a two-sport standout including football and baseball ... As a senior, broke the school record for most career touchdowns with 23 ... Is expected to walk-on the Catamount baseball team as a sophomore ... Earned the Jackie Smallwood Award for baseball ... High school coach was Scott Burton.
Personal: Full name is Jordan Elliott Mathis ... Is the son of Mark and Melanie Mathis ... Has two younger siblings, Sydney and Christian ... Father played collegiate football at Liberty University before a six-year career in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Charlotte, Austin Peay and Chattanooga.
QB - 5-11 - 190 lbs.
Flowery Branch, Ga. (Flowery Branch HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A dual-threat quarterback who earned first team all-region for 8-AAAAA in Georgia as a senior ... As a junior, passed for 1,627 yards and 819 yards rushing while accounting for 32 touchdowns including 18 rushing and 17 through the air passing ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com and 247sports ... Led Flowery Branch to a Region 8-AAAAA title in 2012 ... High school coach was Chris Griffin.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Army, Connecticut, James Madison and Georgia Southern.
OL - 6-4 - 280 lbs.
Flowery Branch, Ga. (Flowery Branch HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Earned first team all-region offensive line for 8-AAAAA in Georgia as a senior ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com ... A part of Flowery Branch High's Region 8-AAAAA title in 2012 ... Helped the Falcons average 33 points per game in 2012 ... Was a high school teammate with fellow WCU signee, Jackson McDonald ... High school coach was Chris Griffin.
Personal: Is the son of Chris Miles.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Air Force, Maryland, Georgia State and Wofford.
Alphaeus Newman, Jr.
S - 6-1 - 190 lbs.
Ellenwood, Ga. (Cedar Grove HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Was named All-State and All-Region in his final year ... Finished with 93 career tackles including 53 hits as a senior ... Tallied five career interceptions, four in his senior campaign ... On offense, caught 13 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown ... Also ran track as a prep ... High school coach was Jermaine Smith.
Personal: Full name is Alphaeus Newman, Jr., but goes by "A.J." .... Is the son of Alphaeus Sr., and Tamiska Newman ... Has an elder sibling, Jazmin ... Was a high school teammate of current Catamount, Tyson Dickson.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Air Force and The Citadel.
WR - 6-1 - 185 lbs.
Crystal River, Fla. (Crystal River HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A versatile athlete who played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and corner back in high school ... Earned All-County honors as a wide receiver after recording 812 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns as a senior ... Played in the 2014 National Underclassmen Combine (NUC) All-South Senior Game, catching a game-high five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown ... Named the West Offensive MVP in the NUC All-Star game ... Named Mr. Crystal River High ... Also played basketball as a prep ... High school coach was Nate Varnadore.
Personal: Is the son of Ryan Reynolds and Fatima Proctor with stepmother Meryl Reynolds ... Has two siblings, brother Bilial Jenkins and sister Sade Jenkins.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman, Jacksonville and Albany.
S - 6-2 - 200 lbs.
Atlanta, Ga. (B.E.S.T. Academy)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played both sides of the ball as a prep including as a linebacker on defense with time at quarterback and wide receiver on offense ... Recorded 45 tackles including 28 solo stops with two interceptions as a senior ... On offense, scored six touchdowns including four receiving and two on the ground ... Finished with 16 receptions for 247 yards ... Earned first team offense All-Region honors in 4-AAA as a receiver in 2013 ... Also ran track as a prep ... High school coach was Josh Moore.
Personal: Is the son of Cathy Seaborn.
OL - 6-2 - 285 lbs.
Kannapolis, N.C. (A.L. Brown HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: A two-year varsity letter winner who started at offensive center as a senior ... Was voted a team captain ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com ... Ranks inside the Top 20 in his high school class academically ... Was honored by the Great American Rivalry Series at A.L. Brown's season-opener for having his team's highest GPA ... Also received his team's Academic Achievement award ... Also played basketball as a prep ... High school coach was Mike Newsome.
Note: Chose Western Carolina over Gardner-Webb.
OL - 6-4 - 265 lbs.
Lincolnton, N.C. (North Lincoln HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played along the offensive and defensive line, as well as tight end during his high school career ... Also played basketball and participated in track & field in the weight events including shot put and discus ... High school coach was David Maness.
Personal: Full name is Nicolas Chase Stehling ... Is the son of Albert Stehling.
LB - 5-11 - 210 lbs.
Jacksonville, N.C. (White Oak HS)
Prior to Western Carolina: Played as a running back and safety at White Oak HS ... Recorded 27 total tackles including 21 solo stops in the fall of 2013 ... Credited with five pass breakups and one interception ... Rushed for 471 yards with 41 yards receiving during his final season ... Finished with seven total touchdowns as a senior including five rushing scores ... Also plays basketball as a prep ... High school football coach was Chad Ashley.
Personal: Is the son of Damon White.
Photo Courtesy: Mark Speir, WCU Athletics