Thursday, February 21, 2008

Recruiting: Grambling State's 2006 signing day class

Here are Grambling State University's announced football signees, with same-day analysis, from National Signing Day in February 2006:

Grambling State's 2006 haul
By Nick Deriso
Breakdown: 27 signees (15 offense, 12 defense)

Local ties: Four of the local prospects listed on the original verbal commitment list were not announced early Wednesday - West Ouachita's Demarious DuBose and Carroll's Jesse Smith Jr., Desmond Lenard and Derrick Johnson.

Sudden impact: Mobile fullback Corey Patterson, like GSU's Ruben Mayes, just makes plays.

One that got away: OG Nigel Bolden (Cedar Hill, Dallas). Selected 2005 All-District 2-5A by, he would have made this fall's camp battles intriguing.

Instant analysis: Signing running backs and offensive linemen isn't flashy, but it will improve a team that's solid at the skill positions. Ironically, Grambling didn't have a single commitment from an offensive lineman going into the final recruiting weekend - a glaring need. By Wednesday night, five had signed.


7-Number of signees who played running back or fullback in high school

13-Louisiana prospects who signed with Grambling

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An in-depth look at the 2006 Grambling signees:

· QB Derrick Wilhite, 6-0, 180, Wossman (Monroe): Was 55-for-102 passing for 733 yards with 12 TDs and just three interceptions in regular season. Rushed 94 times for 900 yards and 10 touchdowns. District 2-3A co-Offensive MVP with LSU signee Richard Murphy from Rayville. Also named to The News-Star/Glenwood SportsCare All-Northeast team.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: Wilhite is talented enough to play anywhere, but it likely won't be quarterback. Even with record-smashing senior Bruce Eugene gone, GSU returns former conference freshman of the year Brandon Landers - a Carroll product who took over when Eugene went down in 2004. Houston-LaMarque product Larry Kerlegan, Eugene's backup last season, is also back.

· FB Marcus Frazier, 6-1, 255; BC Rain (Mobile, Ala.): A two-year starter; helped team to a region-winning 7-5 record and a second-round playoff run. Also played defensive end, where he was team's best tackler. Ran 4.55 in the 40-yard dash at a Birmingham combine event. Named the No. 15 prospect from southwestern Alabama by The Mobile Register.

· FB Corey George, 6-2, 225; Bossier (La.): Starter on the 2005 Bossier Press-Tribune All-Bossier team. Rushed for 1,200 yards and 27 touchdowns, averaging seven yards per carry. Dandy Don's No. 60 Louisiana prospect. Brother Brandon signed with GSU last year. Part of a 2004 squad that reportedly became the first in parish history with three players to gain more than 1,000 yards rushing.

· RB Patrick Henry, 5-9, 175, Covington (La.): Listed at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. … One of Dandy Don's Top 100 Louisiana prospects. … Rushed for 1,340 yards on 262 carries for 15 touchdowns in 2004.

· FB Robert Jones, 5-9, 230; Natchitoches Central (La.): Ran for the lone touchdown in the Chiefs' 45-6 loss to eventual Class 5A champion West Monroe on Sept. 30. Jones was used as a tailback in a spread offense that finished 3-7, with two of those wins coming over Southwood and Minden.

· FB Kenneth Matthews, 6-1; 250; Clinton (La.): Two-way starter at both fullback and middle linebacker. All-District 8-2A second team on offense for a second straight season in 2005. Brother of GSU defensive lineman Melvin Matthews. Team went 10-1 before falling to OCS in playoffs.

· FB/RB Cory Patterson, 6-0, 235, Davidson (Mobile, Ala.): First-team Class 6A All-State in 2005 by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Team switched from a shotgun passing offense to the power running game to fit his talents. Starting fullback for the South team in the 2004 Alabama High School Athletic Association's North-South All-Star Football. Named the No. 22 prospect from southwestern Alabama by The Mobile Register.

· RB Ben Rogers, 6-1, 180; Parker (Birmingham, Ala.): Chosen by the city's head football coaches as a Birmingham All-City co-offensive player of the year. Class 5A All-State honorable mention by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Rushed for 1,500 yards and 18 scores in 2005 as team advanced to the second round of the ASHAA playoffs.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: It's easy to see many, if not most, of these prospects moving into other positions. Grambling's scheme values speed in its linebackers and secondary defenders, and running backs easily transition into those roles. That said, George, Patterson and Rogers have the prep credentials to push their way into eventual playing time. Matthews is a punishing blocker in the mold of current starter Ruben Mayes.

· ATH Terrence Bell, 5-9, 163, Clinton (La.): Multi-position performer who played quarterback, wide receiver and kick returner in 2005. Part of an offense that averaged 300 yards of offense and 30 points per game. Second-team all-District 8-2A in 2005. Runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash; also ran track for Clinton, competing in the 100 and in the last leg of the 400 relay.

· WR Jeremy Sylve, 6-3, 190, Bastrop: Played in 11 games including the playoffs and had 30 catches for 698 yards and seven touchdowns. Second-team District 2-4A. An evacuee transfer from Port Sulphur.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: Grambling has enough depth, not to mention talent, percolating in its prop program, to offer more scholarships in other positions of need, and that's what the coaches did. Both look to be eligible.

· OL Randle Bennett, 6-6, 337, Valley Forge (Wayne, Pa.): Will likely compete for tackle spot. Runs well, great feet. Recruited by defensive coordinator Luther Palmer, a longtime coach in the area.

· OG Jerome King, 6-5, 230, Davidson (Mobile, Ala.): Has great feet, versatile enough to excel either inside or outside. Could fit in on other side of GSU line. Davidson was 12-1 last year.

· OL George Long, 6-5, 350, James Monroe (Fredricksburg, Va.): Named to Group AA All-State second-team by the Virginia High School Coaches Association. Honorable mention on The Washington Post's Fall 2005 All-Met team. First-team all-district and second-team All-Region A as a junior. Played up front on four straight teams that reached the regional playoffs. Considered Morgan State, as well.

· OL Sam Onyeaka, 6-4, 350, Valley Forge (Wayne, Pa.): Inside player, long armed. Very athletic. Looks to compete for guard position. Team went 6-2 in 2005 under Jim Burner.

· OL Ramon Otey, 6-2, 300, Huffman (Birmingham, Ala.): Part of a line that averaged more than 300 pounds per man, Huffman averaged 370 rushing yards per game - including a staggering 609 in a win over Hewitt.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: With the loss of three regular starters in Jonathan Banks, Charles Wilson and Tommy Dural, this was a point of emphasis - though you wouldn't have known it early on. Not until the final week before National Signing Day did the linemen begin pouring in, and Grambling's final list was impressive. Any of these prospects could work his way into line coach Carl Roberts' rotation this season.

· DE Jody Ancar, 6-1, 220, Port Sulphur/Bastrop: Started two games, before suffering a knee injury; returned in playoffs to spark 4A state title run. Transferred to Bastrop from Port Sulphur following Hurricane Katrina. Bastrop assistant coach DeCarlos Holmes, a former GSU defensive lineman, also coached Ancar in Port Sulphur. Honorable mention on The News-Star/Glenwood SportsCare All-Northeast Team.

· DL Chris Drummer, 6-1, 265, Ouachita (Monroe): All-district first teamer and honorable mention for All-State. Made 105 total tackles, including 11 sacks - best in northeastern Louisiana. Team's defensive most valuable player. Named to The News-Star/Glenwood SportsCare All-Northeast Team. Ouachita Coach John Carr says he has a 30-inch vertical leap.

· DL Taurean Montero, Northwest (Opelousas, La.): The team's rookie of the year, he was honorable mention All-District selection last year. Suffered a torn medial collateral ligament late last season. Is not expected to qualify.

· DE Jon Nixon, 6-2, 240, North Little Rock (Ark.): Named to's Natural 21 list of top Arkansas prospects. Reportedly received an offer from Purdue, and considered both Vanderbilt and Arkansas, where he went for an official visit. Runs 4.9 in 40-yard dash, according to Named to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Top 30 Juniors to Watch statewide in 2004.

· DT Vernon Pittman, 6-4, 370, Irving (Texas): A one-year letterman. Team slipped to 4-6 after a 6-5 season in 2004 that included a trip to the Class 5A Division II bi-district game. Was teammates with talented but troubled all-purpose running back Jamaal Evans, who finished with more than 4,000 yards in high school.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: For the second consecutive year, GSU will lose one of its best players from this unit. In 2004, it was defensive end Kenneth Pettway, who also spelled at outside linebacker. This time, it's end Jason Hatcher. Replacing those kind of playmakers is never easy, though Ancar has shown flashes of that kind of brilliance during an injury-marred season. Drummer was the area's most consistent pass rusher and Nixon is a certifiable steal if he's eligible.

· OLB Demario Dixon, 6-2, 220; Southwood (Shreveport): All-district after both the 2004-05 seasons. Lettered for three years. Runs a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash. In a show of athleticism, caught a 2005 two-point conversion to help seal a 29-10 win that ended rival Byrd's 12-game winning streak over Southwood. A regular at GSU's off-season football camps.

· LB Terrance Miley, 5-10, 175, Neville (Monroe): Made 62 tackles and six interceptions. Named to Class 4A All-State team by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. Also played defensive back in high school.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: This unit has a steady center in returning middle linebacker Dimitri Carr, a Farmerville product, but it needs more speed off the edges. Both Dixon and Miley could provide that, as do several of the running back prospects who are expected to get looks for this position.

· DB Mariko Martin, 6-3, 193, Carver (Montgomery, Ala.): Had four passes defended as team advanced to the second round of the post-season. Carver was a semifinalist in the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs for the first time ever in 2004. Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. Also reportedly had interest from Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Sam Houston State and Albany State.

· DB T.J. McCord, 6-1, 180, McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.): An all-region selection. Had 80 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. Also a leader on defense last year with 65 tackles and 12 pass breakups. Named the No. 8 prospect from southwestern Alabama by The Mobile (Ala.) Register. Ran hurdles on high school track team, and played forward on the basketball team.

· SS Michael Oliver, 6-3, 205, Homewood (Ala.): On back-to-back Alabama 5A state championship teams; had 11 tackles in those two title games. Starter on the 5A All-State team. Honorable mention on the 5A All-Metro team. Won state track titles last year in the 110 hurdles and as third runner in the 400 relay. Won the 300 hurdles at the 2004 Class 4A-6A track and field meet, as well.

· DB Donald Roberts, 5-11, 185, Northwest (Opelousas, La.): Will provide needed depth in secondary. Also ran track, including 55-meter hurdles, in high school. Joins prep teammate Taurean Montero in Grambling. Is qualified.

· SS Dante Thompson, 6-4, 218, Colerain (Cincinnati): Honorable mention on The Cincinnati Enquirer's conference all-star list. Great upside; has impressive speed. Rangy, could move into linebacking unit. Colerain was undefeated in Thompson's junior season. A qualifier.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: A pressing need for depth has arisen with the unit struggling through an off-season of graduation, injury or grade problems. McCord looks to be eligible, while Oliver is a legitimate Division I-A prospect who drew interest from Alabama and Auburn. Coaches are high on Thompson and Martin.

While this is no longer a critical area, since rising junior Tim Manuel handled both punting and kicking field goals last year, the team continues to explore the possibility of signing another prospect. The position might also attract a transfer.

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