EKU Football Signing Class Littered With Homegrown Talent
RICHMOND, Ky. –Eastern Kentucky University Head Football Coach Mark Elder announced his 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday.
“I’m really fired up about this class,” Elder said. “We addressed some needs we definitely needed to address. Up front was a major emphasis for us on both sides of the football. Games are won and lost, and championships are won and lost, in the trenches. We signed a number of really good players on the defensive line that will be able to come in and help us right away. On the offensive line, we added a lot of depth. A couple of guys will come in and compete right away for playing time. We wanted to add big guys up front, with length and have athletic ability.”
The group of new Colonels includes 19 players that received all-state honors in their respective home states. The class includes 11 defensive linemen, seven offensive linemen, five wide receivers, five running backs, four linebackers, three quarterbacks, two tight ends, one kicker and one long snapper.
“We were competing with a lot of teams at this level and competing with some FBS programs, and won some of those battles,” said Elder. “That was really good to see that not only can we compete at the upper echelon of FCS for these guys, but there were a handful of guys with FBS offers that turned down those opportunities to be a part of something special here at Eastern Kentucky.”
The 19 that earned all-state recognition are Christopher Anthony (OL), Graham Ashkettle (OL), Jackson Beerman (WR), Alonzo Booth (RB), Ethan Bradds (TE), Sean Cleasant Jr. (DL), Steven Crowder (LB), Azjai Cooper (WR), Quinten Floyd (DL), Ray Horton (DL), Garrett Kruczek (QB), Jason Lewis (RB), Cade Sanchez (OL), Collin Sanchez (TE), Tucker Schroeder (OL), Jordan Scott (OL), LJ Scott (RB), BK Smith (WR), and Landon White (K). Booth was also runner-up for Mr. Football in Ohio.
“Our formula for recruiting is for it to be a long process,” Elder said. “We want to really get to know these young men before they come in. Their character, what they are going to bring to the program beyond how fast they run and how big they are, is extremely important to us. We have been recruiting the guys that signed with us for a long time. The offers came at varying times, but by in large these are guys we’ve been recruiting for six months, eight months, a year, and some of them I even recruited before I got here. We had many commitments coming out of the summer that all stuck with us.”
Ten states are represented in the recruiting class, including 17 from Kentucky, six from Ohio, four from Tennessee, three from Alabama and North Carolina, two each from Florida and Indiana, and one each from Maryland and Virginia.
“As I talked about just over a year ago when I was hired, we’re going to put an emphasis on Kentucky,” Elder said. “We want to, as much as we can, stay in state. That will always be predicated on how many players are good enough to help us go win a championship. We had a lot of success thus far in landing Kentucky kids that are very good football players and have the attributes we need to compete at a high level.”
The group consists of 23 players that signed National Letters of Intent, four mid-year transfers and 12 walk-ons. The three Football Bowl Subdivision transfers are Kruczek (Central Florida), Lewis (Arizona State) and LJ Scott (Louisville).
Kruczek was a three-star product according to 247Sports after a year of junior college play. Coming out of high school, Lewis was ranked by Scout.com as the No. 15 running back and the No. 100 overall national prospect and was listed by ESPN as the No. 47 athlete prospect in the nation. As a prep athlete, Scott was considered one of the top-rated prospects in the state of Ohio, earning a three-star ranking by Rivals.com, while being selected as the 47th-best player in the country at the running back position.
The following is a profile of the 2017 recruiting class.
Jebreel Adonis – LB, 6-2, 205, Fr., Glenmont, Md. (Bullis School)
Team captain while playing for head coach Patrick Cilento at the Bullis School.
Dakota Allen – QB, 6-4, 205, Fr., Lebanon, Ohio (Lebanon HS)
Set numerous team records while earning first team all-conference and conference player of the year honors for head coach Shawn Lamb at Lebanon High School … set school records for single season passing yards (2,844), single season passing touchdowns (30) and most passing yards in a game (451) … concluded his career with 5,851 passing yards, 62 passing touchdowns, 855 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns … team captain … three-year starter with 3.135 GPA.
Christopher Anthony – OL, 6-4, 285, Fr., Massillon, Ohio (Washington HS)
Earned first team all-state honors at left guard … also chosen first team all-district at left guard and first team all-county at defensive tackle … 2016 Best of Stark County All-Prep … was picked for the Ducky Schroeder Award as the team’s best lineman in 2015 and 2016, and was recognized with the Bulsworth Character Award in 2016 … started all 21 games over his final two seasons … played for head coach Nate Moore … was a member of the baseball team as a freshman and a sophomore … team captain … two-year starter and three-year letterwinner … 3.286 GPA.
Graham Ashkettle – OL, 6-6, 290, Fr., Crestwood, Ky. (South Oldham HS)
Earned Associated Press honorable mention all-state honors following his senior season … Louisville All-Metro … picked up all-district honors on offense and defense two straight years … played for head coach Jamie Reed at South Oldham High School … helped his team to a 12-2 record his senior season … team captain … three-year offensive starter, two-year defensive starter … 3.89 GPA … also a three-year member of the basketball team.
Jackson Beerman – WR, 6-5, 200, Fr., Lexington, Ky. (Tates Creek HS)
Named all-state honorable mention and first team all-city as a senior at Tates Creek High School playing for head coach Antoine Sims … finished with 1,801 receiving yards and caught 23 touchdown passes his senior season … team MVP as a senior … team captain … three-year starter with a 3.34 GPA … also was a four-year member of the TCHS baseball team, earning second team all-city honors as a junior.
Alonzo Booth – RB, 6-1, 245, Fr., Canal Winchester, Ohio (St. Francis DeSales HS)
Earned first team all-state honors as a senior at St. Francis DeSales High School while playing for head coach Ryan Wiggins … runner-up for Ohio Mr. Football … also named first team all-district, district offensive player of the year, first team all-metro, metro player of the year, first team Super 25 and first team All-CCL … ran for 2,437 yards and scored 41 touchdowns his senior season … totaled 4,252 rushing yards and 67 touchdowns for his career … team captain … four-year starter led his team to a 13-1 record his senior season … was also a member of the St. Francis DeSales High School track, tennis and bowling teams.
Thomas Bowling – LS, 6-1, 200, Fr., Bardstown, Ky. (Bardstown HS)
Led Bardstown High School in tackles as a senior … coached by David Clark … three-time first team academic all-state selection … four-time Rubio Long Snapping camp attendee, ranking as high as 29th nationally … played varsity baseball for four years … National Honor Society … ranked fourth in a class of 131 students.
Ethan Bradds – TE, 6-5, 245, Fr., Jamestown, Ohio (Greeneview HS)
Earned Associated Press first team All-Ohio honors at Greeneview High School while playing for head coach Neal Kasner … also chosen first team All-Southwest by the Associated Press and first team All-OHC … played tight end, outside linebacker and punted … team captain and four-year starter … also a member of the basketball team at Greeneview High School.
Andrew Burgess – QB, 6-0, 175, Fr., South Bend, Ind. (Adams HS)
Shane Burks – DT, 6-1, 305, Fr., Lexington, Ky. (Bryan Station HS)
Jaelin Carter – WR, 6-2, 202, Fr., Louisville, Ky. (duPont Manual HS)
Totaled 900 receiving yards and 500 rushing yards his senior season at duPont Manual High School … scored 14 touchdowns his senior season … four-year starter.
Cameron Catron – RB, 5-9, 175, Belfry, Ky. (Belfry HS)
Sean Cleasant Jr. – DL, 6-2, 275, Fr., Louisville, Ky. (duPont Manual HS)
Earned Associated Press honorable mention all-state honors following his senior season … listed as the ninth best recruit in FCS football by HeroSports.com … also picked up all-metro, all-district and all-city honors … Best of the Bluegrass … played for head coach Oliver Lucas at duPont Manual High School … had 55 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2016 … recorded 47 tackles and one sack in 2015 … team captain … four-year starter … 3.23 GPA … four-time KHSAA All-Academic award.
Steven Crowder – LB, 6-2, 225, Fr., Mount Olive, Ala. (Gardendale HS)
Picked up class 6A all-state honors … also was chosen All-Birmingham Metro, All-North Jefferson County … AHSAA 6A and Fox 6 Sideline Player of the Week … totaled 431 tackles, 212 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns during his career at Gardendale High School … played for head coach Matt Plunkett … posted 184 tackles and 12 sacks as a senior … had 154 tackles and nine sacks his junior season … team captain … three-year starter … 4.32 GPA … National Honor Society … ranked fifth in his class.
Azjai Cooper – WR, 6-4, 200, Fr., Indianapolis, Ind. (Ben Davis HS)
Earned all-state honorable mention and all-conference honors while playing for head coach Mike Kirschner at Ben Davis High School … honorable mention Super Team Indiana … averaged six receptions per game … also a member of the basketball team.
Andrew Dziuk – LB, 6-0, 210, Fr., Cornelius, N.C. (Hough HS)
Quinten Floyd – DL, 6-2, 250, Fr., Frankfort, Ky. (Bryan Station HS)
Earned Associated Press second team all-state honors following his senior season … also chosen first team all-city … team captain … three-year starter … played for head coach Frank Parks at Bryan Station High School.
Eddy Graham – DL, 6-2, 255, Fr., Louisville, Ky. (Jeffersontown HS)
Ray Horton – DL, 6-1, 300, Fr., Belfry, Ky. (Belfry HS)
Three-time first team all-state … recorded 450 tackles and 40 sacks during his career … helped Belfry High School win four Kentucky state championships for head coach Philip Haywood … earned Associated Press first team all-state honors following his senior season … team captain … four-year starter … helped Belfry to a 14-1 record his senior season and a 55-5 record during his career … also a member of the wrestling and track teams … captured the regional shotput title.
Leonard Humphrey – DL, 6-2, 290, Fr., Knoxville, Tenn. (West HS)
Chosen all-region, all-conference and defensive player of the year … selected to play in the Tennessee all-star game … team captain … had 31 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and eight sacks his senior season … four-year starter … also a member of the track team.
Matthew Jackson – LB, 6-2, 180, Fr., Nashville, Tenn. (Hillsboro HS)
Played at Hillsboro High School for head coach Craig Clayton … leading tackler in 2016 … finished with 64 tackles and two interceptions … returned an interception 100 yards … team captain … also a member of the track team, winning the city championship in the long jump and competing in the state tournament.
Garrett Kruczek – QB, 6-2, 170, r-So., Winter Park, Fla. (Central Florida)
AS A SOPHOMORE IN 2016 AT UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
Redshirt season … did not appear in any games.
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2015 AT COPIAH-LINCOLN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
A three-star product according to 247Sports … Selected to the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges All-State Second Team … Helped guide Copiah-Lincoln to a 7-2 record in 2015 … the school was ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA during the regular season for the first time in program history … recorded 2,336 passing yards and 16 touchdowns by going 202-for-326 through the air (62 percent) … offered by North Texas, Rice, UNLV, Utah State, UTSA and Western Michigan … coached by Glenn Davis at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
Named the MVP for the East squad after going 9-for-11 with 82 yards in the 2013 Central Florida All-Star Game … earned a spot on the 2013 Class 7A All-State Elite Second Team … had offers from Memphis and Tulsa … coached by Tom Oliver at Lake Howell High School.
Brian Lassiter – DL, 6-3, 227, Fr., Charlotte, N.C. (Mallard Creek HS)
Played at Mallard Creek High School for head coach Mike Palmieri … team captain … three-year starter.
Jason Lewis – RB, 6-3, 249, r-So., Virginia Beach, Va. (Arizona State)
AS A REDSHIRT FRESHMAN IN 2016 AT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
Moved to linebacker in fall camp … appeared in two games … did not record any stats.
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2015 AT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
Ranked by Scout.com as the No. 15 running back and the No. 100 overall national prospect … rated the No. 16 athlete and the No. 238 national prospect by 24-7 Sports … listed by Rivals.com as the No. 18 running back and the No. 167 national recruit … listed by ESPN as the No. 47 athlete prospect in the nation … first chose Arizona State over reported scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin … participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … named a First-Team All-American by Scout.com following his senior season … earned All-Atlantic Region honors by PrepStar … helped lead Ocean Lakes High School to its first ever 6A state championship as a senior in 2014 … rushed for a school-record 267 yards with three touchdowns in the state championship game including the game-winning score in overtime … rushed for 2,030 yards on 216 carries (9.4 avg.) with 31 touchdowns in 15 games as a senior in 2014 … coached by Chris Scott.
Jordan Malone – OL, 6-6, 285, Fr., Kingsport, Tenn. (Dobyns-Bennett HS)
Lettered for three years at Dobyns-Bennett High School for head coach Graham Clark … played left tackle and right tackle … two-year starter … also a member of the basketball team for two years.
Jaret Pogliano – WR, 6-0, 185, So., Union, Ky. (Mount St. Joseph)
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2016 AT MOUNT ST. JOSEPH UNIVERSITY
Played in three games … returned one kickoff for four yards.
Helped Ryle High School to a 9-3 record his senior season (2015) … played for head coach Michael Engler … voted by teammates onto Raider Council … voted by teammates to be team captain … special teams MVP … voted by teammates for the Brian Millard Leadership Award … chosen for Northern Kentucky East-West All-Star Game … also a two-year member of the track and field team.
Ridge Reed – RB, 6-0, 210, Fr., Carlisle, Ohio (Carlisle HS)
Chase Ross – OL, 6-3, 290, Fr., Union Ky. (Ryle HS)
Cade Sanchez – OL, 6-2, 240, Fr., Lexington, Ala. (Lexington HS)
Earned first team all-state honors as a senior for head coach Jason Lard at Lexington High School … four-time all-area selection … graded 95 percent on the offensive line and recorded 67 tackles on defense … four-year starter … team captain … member of the track team and earned a spot in the state championships in the discus … 3.9 GPA … National Honor Society.
Collin Sanchez – TE, 6-4, 255, Fr., Lexington, Ala. (Lexington HS)
Named to the all-state team as a senior for head coach Jason Lard at Lexington High School … two-time all-area as a junior and a senior … best receiver award as a junior and senior … caught six touchdown passes … graded 90 percent blocking … had 83 tackles and one interception … team captain … three-year starter … also a member of the Golden Bears’ basketball team, picking up all-area as a junior and all-county tournament as a senior … 3.9 GPA … National Honor Society.
Tucker Schroeder – OL, 6-4, 300, Fr., St. Cloud, Fla. (Harmony HS)
A two-time all-state selection … chosen all-conference and all-county three times … two-time all-district honoree … Orlando Sentinel Top-60 … Central Florida All-Star … played for head coaches Jerrad Butler and Jay Sobke … team captain … three-year starter … also a member of the track and field, and weightlifting teams at Harmony High School … 3.67 GPA … National Honor Society member and ranked 40th in his class.
Jordan Scott – OL, 6-2, 300, Fr., Huddy, Ky. (Belfry HS)
Earned Associated Press first team all-state honors following his senior season … played for head coach Philip Haywood … team captain … also a two-year member of the baseball team and was on the wrestling team for one year.
LJ Scott – RB, 6-0, 225, Sr., Marion, Ohio (Louisville)
AS A JUNIOR IN 2016 AT UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE
Played in four games … finished the season with three rushes for 15 yards and four receptions for 42 yards with a touchdown catch … had one run for 18 yards and two receptions for 26 yards against Charlotte (Sept. 1) … caught a 20-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against Charlotte that gave Louisville a 41-0 lead … had two carries and two receptions for 16 yards at Clemson (Oct. 1).
AS A SOPHOMORE IN 2015 AT UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE
Appeared in 12 of 13 games … rushed 39 times for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns … earned the start versus Texas A&M, rushing five times for 27 yards … broke off a season high 43-yard run in the fourth quarter against Kentucky … hauled in a career-long 52 yard reception in the first quarter against Syracuse, finished with five rushes for 36 yards and two receptions for 57 yards … recorded his first start of the season on the road against Florida State … scored his first rushing touchdown of the season in the win over Samford.
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2014 AT UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE
Played in all 13 games … rushed 29 times for 201 yards and two scores as a freshman … totaled one 100-yard game when he rushed 11 times for 126 yards and one score versus Murray State … scored his second career touchdown versus Florida International.
Considered one of the top-rated prospects in the state of Ohio, earning a three-star ranking by Rivals.com, while being selected as the 47th-best player in the country at the running back position … Rivals Postseason Top 100 list had him at No. 32 … ranked as a three-star performer and the No. 46 running back by Scout.com … received special mention on the 2013 Associated Press Division II All-Ohio Team after rushing for more than 1,000 yards during his senior season at Marion Harding High School … scampered 83 yards for a touchdown against Delaware and also posted touchdown runs of 24, 15, and 35 in a game versus Howland … concluded his career with over 2,500 yards during his scholastic career … was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 plays in September 2013 for his 50-yard run … named the Big 22 Player of the Year … set a Harding school record for total yards per game with 383 in one game … multi-sport talent, he won districts in the high jump and 4×100 relay for Marion Harding … ran a personal best of 12.36 in the 100-meter at Greater Buckeye Conference Championship, placing 12th … personal best of 5-10 in the high jump at the Greater Buckeye Conference Championship helped him place fourth overall, while is 16-7.5 in the long jump at the meet was good enough for ninth … posted a personal best of 40-5 in the shot put at the Sandusky Dual Meet, placing 4th.
Gunner Slone – DL, 6-3, 275, Fr., Paintsville, Ky. (Johnson Central HS)
BK Smith – WR, 5-10, 180, Fr., Louisville, Ky. (Male HS)
Garnered Associated Press honorable mention all-state honors following his senior season … caught 56 passes for 1,005 yards … hauled in 12 touchdown catches … chosen all-district and offensive MVP … played for head coach Chris Wolfe at Male High School … helped the team go 10-3 his senior season … also a member of the track team.
Nakiya Smith – DL, 6-4, 228, Fr., Johnson City, Tenn. (Science Hill HS)
Three-time all-conference while playing tight end and defensive end at Science Hill High School for head coach Stacy Carter … had 12 career touchdown catches and 12 career sacks … also a member of the basketball team.
Tre Turner – DL, 6-5, 225, Fr., Huntersville, N.C. (North Mecklenburg HS)
Named all-conference in 2016 for head coach Brad Baker at North Mecklenburg High School … also chosen as the defensive MVP and the Holden Cup Award winner … three-year starter … team captain … member of the basketball team for two years … honor student … honor roll for four straight years … National Honor Society candidate.
Peyton Van Horn – DL, 6-2, 210, Fr., Hebron, Ky. (Conner HS)
Landon White – K, 6-1, 185, Fr., Richmond, Ky. (Madison Central HS)
Earned Associated Press first team all-state honors following his senior season … first team USA Today All-State … Class of the Commonwealth Top-25 … all-district and all-region … set Madison Central High School all-time field goal record … played for head coach Mark Scenters … also a member of the MCHS bass fishing team.