VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Valdosta State head football coach David Dean announced the signing of 36 high school and one junior college players Wednesday.
In addition to the 37 players that will join the Blazers in the summer of 2009, Dean also announced that two NCAA Division I athletes and four junior college players have already entered school and will go through Spring Practice with VSU starting February 27.
Dean's third recruiting class as head coach of Valdosta State focused heavily on the offensive and defensive lines as 22 of the 43 players will be looked upon to man the trenches for VSU in the coming years. Each line unit signed 11 players on Wednesday.
"I was very pleased with our signing class," said Dean in making the announcement. "We saw offensive and defensive line as two need areas when we started our recruiting and I feel like we met those needs with the players we signed. Our coaches did an outstanding job of identifying players that will fit our system well."
Dean and his staff also addressed another area of need on the Blazer squad, as they signed three prep quarterbacks. VSU returns just one quarterback with game experience in 2009.
"All three of the quarterbacks that we signed are very good players," he concluded. "Stephen Warren is more of a pocket passer, although he can get outside the pocket and throws very well on the run. Chase Graham wasn't asked to throw much in high school, but he has a very good arm and throws the ball well. Brett Whitmire is a threat to both run and pass the ball. He has good size and we were very impressed with his ability to deliver the ball to his receivers. He comes from a system similar to ours which will also help him.
Valdosta State returns 43 letterwinners and 12 starters off of a club that went 9-3 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2008.
2009 Valdosta State Signees
Patrick Allen (6-2, 245, OL, Jefferson, Ga./Jefferson): A four year letterwinner and three year starter at center for the Dragons of Jefferson High ... Graded out a 91.0 percent during the 2008 season while leading JHS to an 11-1 record and a spot in the state playoffs ... Led the team in pancake blocks ... Also started at middle linebacker and recorded 85 tackles, including 10 for loss ... Also recorded two interceptions ... Graded out at 86.8 percent as a junior in 2007 ... Registered 19.5 pancake blocks while helping the Dragons to an 8-4 mark ... Earned AA All-State honors as an offensive lineman in 2008 while earning All-Region in 2007 ... Member of Jefferson High's wrestling team that won state championships in 2006, 2007 and 2008 ... Finished as the state runner-up in the 215-pound weight class in 2008 ... Played for head coach Bill Navas.
Daniel Anderson (5-11, 170, K/P, Mooresville, Ga./Pike County): Connected on seven of 10 field goals for the Pirates during the 2008 season ... Helped Pike County to a 9-2 record and a spot in the state playoffs ... Was perfect on extra point attempts while averaging 40.0 yards per punt ... Hit six of eight field goals in 2007 while helping Pike County to a 3-7 mark ... Recorded a 49 yard field goal, the longest in school history ... Averaged 38.0 yards per punt while not missing an extra point ... earned first team All-State as a kicker in 2008 and as a punter in 2007 and 2008 ... Played for head coach John McMiller.
Colby Andrews (6-3, 235, DE, Roberta, Ga./Tattnall Square Academy): Led the Trojans to a 12-1 record and the state playoffs in 2008 ... Recorded 94 tackles, including seven tackles for loss ... Had five sacks and forced two fumbles ... Directed TSA to a 12-0 record and the state championship in 2007 ... Tallied 86 tackles, including nine for loss, and seven sacks ... Forced three fumbles ... Earned All-State honors ... Registered 275 career tackles, including 16 for loss ... Finished career with 18 sacks and five forced ... Also played baseball for TSA ... Played for head coach Barney Hester.
Tullis Beasley (5-11, 260, OL, Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta): Played for a Wildcat squad that went 5-5 in 2008 ... Also ran track and finished state runner-up in weightlifting ... Played for head coach Rick Tomberlin.
Jarrell Benson (6-3, 185, FS, Hiram, Ga./Hiram): Recorded 68 tackles while leading the Hornets to a 5-5 mark in 2008 ... Tallied one interception and one fumble recovery ... Forced two fumbles while breaking up seven passes ... Earned 7-AAAA All-Region honors ... Directed Hiram to a 4-6 mark in 2007 ... Tallied 43 tackles and one interception ... Forced one fumble while breaking up four passes ... Also played basketball and ran track ... Played for head coach Andy Dorsey.
Demetrius Bozeman (5-11, 260, DT, Hawkinsville, Ga./Hawkinsville): Led the Red Devils to a 3-7 record in 2008 ... Tallied 56 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss and four sacks ... Was named All-State ... Played for head coach Lee Campbell.
Donatello Brown (6-1, 190, RB/CB, Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb): Starred for a Warriors team that went 5-5 in 2008 ... Tallied 45 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery ... Carried the ball 124 times for 845 yards, a 6.8 yards per carry average ... Tallied 10 touchdowns on the season ... Led North Cobb to a 10-1 record and a spot in the state playoffs in 2007 ... Also competed in track and field ... Played for head coach Shane Queen.
Willie Callhoun (6-5, 220, WR, Homerville, Ga./Clinch County): Played both wide receiver and defensive end for the Panthers ... Caught 17 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns ... Recorded 31 tackles, including 14 for loss ... Also had four sacks on the year while helping Clinch County to a 9-3 record and a spot in the state tournament ... Led the Panthers to an 11-3 mark as a junior in 2007 ... Earned first team All-Region in 2008 ... Also played basketball and ran track ... Played for head coach Jim Dickerson.
Hunter Chumley (6-2, 275, DT, Canton, Ga./Cherokee): Tallied 53 tackles for the Warriors in 2008 ... Registered 12 tackles for loss and two sacks ... Forced two fumbles while recovering one ... Tallied 32 tackles and one sack for a squad that went 8-4 in 2007 ... Finished career with 94 career tackles and four sacks ... Was All-Region in 2008 while earning All-County honors in 2007 and 2008 ... Won region championship in wrestling ... Played for head coach Brian Dameron .
Kedrick Clark (6-3, 260, OL, Taylorsville, Miss./Jones County JC): Started all nine games for a Bobcat team that 7-2 in 2008 ... Appeared in 11 games in 2007 while helping JCJC to a 9-2 record and a spot in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College Athletic Assocation championship game in 2007 ... Played prep career at Collins High in Collins, Miss. ... Played for JCJC head coach Eddie Pierce.
Jared Davis (5-8, 160, WR, Tifton, Ga./Tift County): Played wide receivers, returned punts and kickoffs for Tift County ... Caught 36 passes for 498 yards and seven touchdowns in 2008 ... Tallied 896 all-purpose yards ... Led the Blue Devils to an 8-4 record and the second round of the state playoffs ... Earned first team All-Region honors ... Helped Tift County to a 6-5 record and the state playoffs in 2007 ... Caught 44 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns ... Was named first team All-Region ... Played for head coach Jay Walls ... Also competed in golf for the Blue Devils.
Manny Evans (5-9, 170, DB, Darien, Ga./McIntosh County): Led the Buccaneers to a 9-2 record and the state playoffs in 2009 ... Recorded 62 tackles, including five tackles for loss ... Had four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns ... Broke up seven passes ... Earned All-Region honors ... Tallied 37 tackles and three interceptions in 2007 while leading McIntosh to a 6-5 mark ... Scored one touchdown while breaking up five passes ... Blocked one punt ... Also played basketball and ran track ... Played for head coach Robby Robinson.
Chase Graham (5-10, 170, QB, Dallas, Ga./South Paulding): Passed for 600 yards and nine touchdowns for a team that went 4-6 in 2008 ... Also rushed for 200 yards and five touchdowns ... Threw just one interception ... Also played on the 2007 squad that went 2-6 ... Played for Spartan head coach Tim Blanton.
Darius Howell (6-2, 180, WR, Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes): Played for a Viking squad that went 12-1 in 2008 ... Also played for the 2007 squad that won the AAAAA state championship in 2007 ... Played for head coach Randy McPherson.
Kevin Jackson (6-4, 295, OL, Savannah, Ga./Savannah Christian): Played for a Raiders team that went 10-2 in advanced to the second round of the state tournament in 2008 ... Earned All-State honors as a senior ... Directed Savannah Christian to a 10-2 record and the state playoffs in 2007 as well ... Was named All-Region after earning honorable mention All-Region as a sophomore ... Played for head coach Donald Chumley.
David Jenkins (5-10, 215, LB, Jackson, Ga./Jackson): Jackson High's all-time leader in career tackles with 401 during his career ... Recorded 123 tackles, including 13 for loss and four sacks, during the 2008 season while leading the Red Devils to a 10-1 record and the state playoffs ... Was named the 4-AAA Defensive Player of the Year while also earning All-Region honors ... Tallied 120 tackles as a junior in 2007 ... Recorded nine tackles for loss and three sacks ... Won the state championship in the 94 kg weight class in weightlifting ... Also competed in track ... Played for head coach Mike Parris.
Edmund Kugbila (6-5, 325, OL, Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett): Led the Black Knights to a 3-7 mark in 2008 ... Graded out at 91 percent while recording 29 pancake blocks ... Helped Central Gwinnett to a 6-4 mark in 2007 ... Also competed in track and field ... Played for head coach Ed Stokes.
James Lee (6-3, 230, DE, Albany, Ga./Monroe): Led the Tornados to a 9-3 record and a spot in the state playoffs in 2008 ... Tallied 48 tackles, including 10 sacks ... Also played basketball for Monroe ... Played for head coach Charles Truitt.
Rico Mack (5-9, 160, WR, Marietta, Ga./North Cobb): Starred for a Warriors team that went 5-5 in 2008 ... Caught 35 passes for 740 yards and six touchdowns ... Tallied 285 yards and three touchdowns on the ground ... Caught 38 passes for 765 yards and eight touchdowns while helping North Cobb to a 10-1 record and the state playoffs in 2007 ... Carried the ball for 327 yards and three touchdowns ... Was All-County both years ... Also played basketball, soccer and baseball while running track ... Played for head coach Shane Queen.
Robert Newton (6-2, 275, OL, Niceville, Fla./Niceville): Started all 11 games for an Eagles squad that was 9-2 and made the state playoffs in 2008 ... Did not allow a sack on an offense that averaged more than 400 yards per game ... Played in six games in 2007 while helping Niceville to an 8-3 mark and a spot in the state playoffs ... Was named All-Region and the Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2008 ... Was a district qualifier in weightlifting ... Played for head coach John Hicks.
Justin Palmer (6-2, 250, OL, Cairo, Ga./Cairo): Led the Syrupmakers to a perfect 14-0 record and the AAA state championship in 2008 ... Played for head coach Tom Fallaw.
Michael Pate (6-0, 245, DE, Lawrenceville, Ga./Peachtree Ridge): Starred for a Lion squad that went 12-3 and advanced to the state playoffs in 2008 ... Recorded 55 tackles, including one sack ... Earned All-County and All-Region honors ... Registered 50 tackles, including three sacks, for a squad that went 8-4 in 2007 ... Forced two fumbles while also recovering two ... Won the 205-225 weight class state powerlifting title ... Played for head coach Bill Ballard.
Deondrick Pina (6-0, 180, ATHLETE, Ellaville, Ga./Schley County): Starred for a Wildcat team that went 8-4 and advanced to the second round of the state tournament in 2008 ... Played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive back during the season ... Passed for 598 yards while catches passes for 602 ... Earned All-Region honors as a senior ... Led Schley County to a 9-3 mark and the second round of the state tournament in 2007 ... Rushed for 993 yards, passed for 813 and intercepted seven passes ... Earned honorable mention All-State honors three times ... Was second team All-State in basketball and finished fifth at the state track meet in the 200M ... Played for head coach Jim McFather.
Matt Pierce (5-11, 185, DB, Atlanta, Ga./St. Pius): Played for a Golden Lion squad that went 10-2 and advanced to the state playoffs in 2008 ... Registered 39 tackles and two interceptions on the year ... Returned one pick for a touchdown ... Recovered one fumble and broke up three passes ... Played for head coach Paul Standard.
David Poole (6-3, 280, DT, Martinez, Ga./Lakeside): Led the Panthers to a 7-3 mark in 2008 ... Registered 35 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss ... Recorded six sacks while forcing two fumbles and recovering two more ... Blocked one field goal attempt ... Tallied 29 tackles while guiding Lakeside to a 3-6 record in 2007 ... Tallied two sacks and one interception ... Earned All-County honors in 2008 ... Also participated in track and field and wrestling ... Played for head coach Jody Grooms.
Christopher Pope (5-11, 205, SS/OLB, Jackson, Ga./Jackson): Played four years for Jackson's varsity squad ... Led the Red Devils to a 10-1 record and a spot in the state playoffs in 2008 ... Recorded 41 tackles, including one for loss, in 2007 ... Broke up two passes and recovered one fumble while helping Jackson to a 3-7 record ... Tallied 21 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and one for sack, as a sophomore in 2006 ... Intercepted one pass and broke up three passes ... Earned All-Region honors in 2008 ... Also played basketball ... Played for head coach Mike Parris.
John Roberts (6-2, 250, OL, Douglas, Ga./Coffee County): Played for a Trojan squad that went 7-3 in 2008 ... Played for head coach Ken Eldridge.
Terrell Roberts (6-3, 225, DE, Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb): Starred for a Warriors team that went 5-5 in 2008 ... Tallied 86 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss ... Had seven sacks on the season ... Was named the team's defensive player of the year ... Led the squad to a 10-1 record and the state playoffs in 2007 ... Registered 70 tackles, including six for loss ... Recorded four tackles ... Played for basketball squad that made state tournament twice while also advancing to the state track meet in the 200M ... Played for head coach Shane Queen.
Tyler Rose (6-1, 170, WR, Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny): Directed the Crusaders to a 7-3 record in 2008 ... Played for head coach Mark Thorson.
Allen Scruggs (5-10, 220, OL, Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta): Played for a Wildcat squad that went 5-5 in 2008 ... Earned All-Region honors ... Led the Wildcats to a 9-3 record while earning All-Region in 2007 ... Finished third in the state in wrestling ... Played for head coach Rick Tomberlin.
Kayvon Sherrill (6-4, 245, DE, Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb): Starred for a Warriors team that went 5-5 in 2008 ... Tallied 52 tackles and six sacks in just six games ... Was named All-County and All-Region for the 2007 squad that went 10-1 and advanced to the state playoffs ... Played for head coach Shane Queen.
Jake Smith (6-3, 185, LB, McDonough, Ga./Union Grove): Led Union Grove to an 8-3 record and the state playoffs in 2008 ... Registered 88 tackles, including two sacks ... Forced two fumbles while also recovering two ... Was second team All-Region ... Missed the 2007 season due to injury ... Also starred on the Wolverines' basketball team ... Played for head coach Steve Collins.
Joseph Stone (5-11, 190, ATHLETE, Helena, Ga./Telfair County): Caught 45 passes for 564 yards and seven touchdowns for the Trojans ... Carried the ball 61 times for 425 yards and eight scores ... Punted 16 times for an average of 36.3 yards per punt ... Tallied 78 tackles, including 4.5 sacks ... Registered four interceptions ... Was first team All-Region as a receiver while earning second team honors as a defensive back and a punter ... Led Telfair County to a 4-6 record ... Recorded 37 catches for 493 yards and six touchdowns as a junior in 2007 ... Carried the ball 46 times for 362 yards and three touchdowns ... Tallied 64 tackles, including three sacks ... Intercepted two passes while helping the Trojans to a 3-7 mark ... Earned first team All-Region honors in baseball in 2008 after receiving second team honors in 2007 ... Played for head coach Jeff Bowen.
Jake Thomas (6-1, 265, OL, Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinett): Directed a team that went 10-3 and advanced to the state tournament quarterfinals in 2008 ... Earned first team All-Region honors as well as second team All-County ... Led the Bulldogs to a 13-2 record and a state runner-up position in 2007 ... Earned second team All-Region honors ... Will graduate with honors ... Played for head coach Bob Sphire.
Marco Turner (6-1, 185, FS, Manchester, Ga./Manchester)
Stephen Warren (6-2, 205, QB, Abilene, Texas/Abilene): Led the Eagles to a 10-1 record and the state playoffs in 2008 ... Completed 154-of-231 passes for 2,245 yards ... Threw 24 touchdowns against just six interceptions ... Carried the ball 22 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns ... Was the District 3-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player while earning honorable mention All-State ... Passed for 879 yards while completing 79-of-109 yards as a junior in 2007 ... Passed for seven touchdowns against just one interception ... On his career, completed 243-of-351 passes for 3,246 yards and 33 touchdowns while throwing just seven interceptions ... Also earned All-District honors in baseball ... Played for head coach Steve Warren.
Brett Whitmire (6-2, 208, QB, Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny): Directed the Crusaders to a 7-3 record in 2008 ... Completed 112-of-182 passes for 1,601 yards ... Threw 20 touchdowns while rushing for three more ... Earned All-District honors while being named Honorable Mention All-State ... Was the First Coast Player of the Year and the Private School Player of the Year ... Appeared in the Florida Shrine Bowl North-South All-Star game ... Was successful on 146-of-280 passing attempts in 2007 ... Passed for 1,951 yards and 18 touchdowns ... Also rushed for six touchdowns on the season ... Was named All-District and All-Area ... Played for Bishop Kenny's 2008 state championship baseball squad ... Played for head coach Mark Thorson.
Donavan Baldwin (6-1, 195, FS, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Georgia): Played two season for the Bulldogs, appearing in 20 games ... Registered six career tackles ... Played prep career at American Heritage for Byron Walker ... Was first team All-State ... Registered seven interceptions as a senior, returning four for touchdowns ... Tallied 46 tackles ... Blocked one kick while returning six kickoffs for touchdowns ... Caught 10 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns ... Also competed in track and field.
Jeremy Brown (6-1, 310, OL, Adel, Ga./Reedley CC): Led Reedley to a 7-4 record last season ... Guided the Tigers to the Valley Conference championship ... Helped RC to an 8-3 mark in 2007 and the State Central Bowl championship ... Played for Cook County during prep career.
Jamarian Brown (6-1, 325, DT, Adel, Ga./Reedley CC): Led Reedley to a 7-4 record last season ... Guided the Tigers to the Valley Conference championship ... Helped RC to an 8-3 mark in 2007 and the State Central Bowl championship ... Played for Cook County during prep career.
Chauncey DeBose (6-2, 275, DT, Gainesville, Fla./Eastern Kentucky): Assisted the Colonels to a 23-12 record the last three years ... Played in 31 games ... Tallied 47 career tackles, including 7.5 for loss ... Recorded 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery ... Broke up one pass and tallied nine quarterback hurries ... Played prep career at Mundy's Mill.
Josh Stephens (6-0, 280, DT, Paulding, Miss./Jones County JC): Saw action in all 10 games for the Bobcats ... Helped the squad to an 8-2 record ... Recorded 44 tackles, including one tackle for loss and two sacks ... Forced one fumble ... Led JCJC to a 10-2 record and the MACJC championship game in 2007 ... Tallied 32 tackles and one tackle for loss ... Played for head coach Eddie Pierce.
Jasamine Watkins (6-3, 215, SS, Louisville, Ky./Fond du Lac CC): Led the Thunder to a 2-7 record in 2008 ... Tallied 108 tackles and four interceptions ... Recorded one sack while breaking up 12 passes ... Registered 83 tackles and two interceptions in 2007 ... Broke up 10 passes ... Earned first team All-Conference honors in 2008 after recording second team honors in 2007.