The Jacksonville State football team welcomed 21 new members on Feb. 6.
This was the signing class under new head coach Bill Clark. Clark, who was only hired on Dec. 19, had to work fast to maintain commitments from recruits upon arrival. The short recruiting period did not discourage Clark, as he is pleased with the quality of the class. Several of the signees had two or three star rankings on recruiting websites such as Rival and Scout.
"Just from our evaluations, we did not say, 'well, we're Jax State and somebody is this. We can't get this guy," said Clark.
One of those players is two-star linebacker Ramar Dennis from Orlando, Fla. Dennis had scholarship offers from Pittsburgh, Cincinatti, Syracuse, Southern Mississippi, Illinois, and Northern Illinois.
Coach Clark had been recruiting Dennis while he still served as defensive coordinator at South Alabama. "We developed a relationship with him at South Alabama and we just continued that relationship here." He is expected to compete for playing time early.
Coach Clark spoke about evaluating the needs for the team by position. He targeted size and depth for his wide receivers in this signing class. The Gamecocks brought in five wide receivers, four of which are at least six feet tall. Jarren Johnson is only five foot eleven, but is a three-star recruit and is expected to also compete for playing time early.
The Gamecocks also went for size for his defensive backs. Michael Davis and Darius Jackson are six-foot-one and six-foot-two, respectively. Jackson is reuniting with his former high school teammate and current Gamecock Brandon Bender. Bender and Jackson played at McAdory High School.
JSU also brought in some size and depth for its offensive line. The Gamecocks signed five offensive linemen, none bigger than three-star six-foot-five 305 pound Brett Steverson from Fitzgerald, Ga.
"Looking at this group of linemen, they're not sloppy; they're in good shape," said Clark.
Clark also spoke highly of Austin Bishop, a six-foot-four 276-pound offensive lineman from Piedmont, Ala. "If he walked in the door he looks like a college offensive lineman," he said. "I like his attitude."
This class brought in a player at every position except quarterback and kicker. The Gamecocks signed quarterback Jayce Barber last fall after his signing went on the 2012 class.
Clark is committed to recruiting local players. He signed two players from Calhoun County, Justice Owens from Alexandria and Austin Bishop. According to The Anniston Star, Oxford wide receiver Jarrius Orr will be coming to JSU as a walk-on.