Arkansas Tech signs 24 student athletes for football - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Arkansas Tech signs 24 student athletes for football

From Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Steve Mullins announced the signing of 24 student- athletes to National Football Letters of Intent on Wednesday, the first official day that high school players are allowed to sign letters of intent to play college football.

The group of 24 signees includes 13 high school players from the state of Arkansas, including Class 5A All-State quarterback Brandon Keaton of Camden Fairview High School and Class 7A All-State quarterback Tanner Knight of Fort Smith Northside High School.

Here is list of this year's signees.

Name Pos. Hgt. Wgt. Hometown (High School)

Emmanuel Abram TE 6-3 215 Monroe, La. (Wossman)

Demetris Belton DB 6-0 210 Mansfield, La. (Mansfield)

C.J. Cleveland S 6-1 185 Shreveport, La. (Captain Shreve)

Preston Conder QB 6-0 180 Tyler, Texas (Robert E. Lee)

Alex Crist K 6-0 175 Bossier City, La. (Parkway)

Dennis Edwards WR 6-3 190 Tyler, Texas (Robert E. Lee)

Dalton Elliot LB 6-1 225 Bossier City, La. (Airline)

Melvin Gamble, Jr. WR 5-11 180 West Helena, Ark. (Central)

Dylan Hale LB 5-10 195 Fayetteville, Ark. (Fayetteville)

Les Harrison DE 6-4 245 Springdale, Ark. (Har-Ber)

Ricky Hicks DL 6-2 280 El Dorado, Ark. (El Dorado)

Julian Jones DE 6-4 235 Shreveport, La. (Woodlawn)

Brandon Keaton QB 5-9 150 Camden, Ark. (Fairview)

Tanner Knight QB 6-2 185 Fort Smith, Ark. (Northside)

Deontae Mitchell S 5-11 190 West Memphis, Ark. (West Memphis)

Kasey Partridge OL 6-5 275 White Hall, Ark. (White Hall)

Codi Randle WR 6-1 175 Shreveport, La. (Woodlawn)

Hayden Severs K 5-8 170 Rogers, Ark. (Heritage)

James (Trey) Sherman DL 6-4 285 Camden, Ark. (Harmony Grove)

Alex Smith DL 6-1 260 Sherwood, Ark. (Sylvan Hills)

Garrett Smith DL 6-4 265 Clinton, Ark. (Clinton)

Joseph Tharp OL 6-2 275 Heber Springs, Ark. (Heber Springs)

Andrew Thomas DB 5-8 175 Memphis, Tenn. (Craigmont)

Lutrell Thomas WR 6-3 180 Shreveport, La. (Woodlawn)

 

This year's signees' bios are as follows:

Emmanuel Abram of Monroe, La. (Wossman High School): Abram is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound tight end who played for Coach Dale Zimmerman, Sr. Abram, who also played quarterback at WHS, caught 21 passes for 300 yards this past season at tight end and threw for eight touchdowns as a quarterback. He was named a First-Team All-District, Second-Team All-City and an Honorable Mention All-State honoree at tight end. Helped lead the Wildcats to a 5-5 record in 2010 and was a three-year team captain. "The turning point of our season this past year was moving Emmanuel from QB to tight end. To move a kid from quarterback to tight end shows the character and leadership of Emmanuel," Zimmerman said about Abram.

Demetris Belton of Mansfield, La. (Mansfield High School): Belton is a 6-foot, 210-pound safety and quarterback with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. This past season, Belton, who will play safety at Tech, recorded 25 tackles, had five interceptions, including returning two for touchdowns and had 110 interception return yards. In addition, he was 84-for-161 passing for 1,056 yards and had 18 touchdowns and a 110 quarterback rating and carried the ball 42 times for 368 yards. He was named an All-District selection at both quarterback and defensive back and also named an All-Area selection at defensive back. In addition, he was named an All-District Offensive MVP. In his high school career, he was named a four-time All-Academic honoree and a three-time All-District selection as he earned All-District honors as a defensive end in 2007 and as a tight end in 2008. Belton also was named the school's All-Around MVP Award winner.

Cottreal (C.J.) Cleveland of Shreveport, La. (Captain Shreve High School): Cleveland is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound safety with 4.59 speed in the 40-yard dash. This past season, Cleveland, who played for Coach Richard Lary at Captain Shreve High School, recorded 81 total tackles, including 30 solo stops and had one interception, 13 pass break-ups and forced three fumbles. He was named a First-Team All-District and All-City selection and also served as one of the team's captains. In 2009, Cleveland was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award.

Preston Conder of Tyler, Texas (Robert E. Lee High School): Conder is a 6-foot, 180-pound quarterback with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. In 2010, Conder played in 5 1/2 games, including the final two with an injured shoulder, of which he has made a full recovery. On the season, he was 54-for-103 for 962 yards and had eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Conder was named a Second-Team All-District honoree and a part of three State Playoff teams with the Red Raiders. "He is the toughest guy I know. Preston is a team player, has outstanding arm strength and is very accurate," said Robert E. Lee High School Coach Mike Owens.

Alex Crist of Bossier City, La. (Parkway High School): Crist is a 6-foot, 175-pound kicker, who played for Coach Chris Hill at Parkway High School. This past season, Crist was 3-for-4 on field goals with a long of 47 yards and was 37-for-39 on extra points en route to being named an Honorable Mention All-State selection by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association and the Louisiana Coaches' Association and a First-Team All-District and All-City and he was named the Offensive Player of the Game for Parkview in Week 9. In addition, 77 percent of his kickoffs were touchbacks last season. As a junior in 2009, Crist was 4-for-6 on field goals with a long of 47 yards and 33 of his 44 kickoffs (75 percent) were touchbacks as he was named a First-Team All-District and All-County selection. As a freshman in 2007, Crist was a member of the Northside Eagles in Warner Robbins, Ga., which won the Class 4A State Championship.

Dennis Edwards of Tyler, Texas (Robert E. Lee High School): Edwards is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver with 4.51 speed in the 40-yard dash. This past season, Edwards caught 17 passes for 335 yards and had three touchdown receptions. He was named a Second-Team All-District selection and was part of three State Playoff teams with the Red Raiders and helped the school to a 20-16 record during his high school career. "Dennis is an outstanding receiver, who is very physical and a great blocker. He is a team player," Robert E. Lee High School Coach Mike Owens said about Edwards.

Dalton Elliot of Bossier City, La. (Airline High School): Elliot is a 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker with 4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash, who played for Coach Mike Greene at Airline High School. This past season, Elliot was named a First-Team All-District, All-Parish and All-City selection after recording 63 tackles for the Vikings. In addition to playing football at AHS, Elliot won the Louisiana State Wrestling title last season at 215 pounds.

Melvin Gamble, Jr. of West Helena, Ark. (Central High School): Gamble is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound wide receiver and defensive back, who played for Russell Smith at Central High School. This past season, Gamble caught 10 passes for 250 yards and also carried the ball 36 times for 450 yards. On defense, he recorded 60 total tackles, including 40 solo stops and had two interceptions and scored a total of 10 touchdowns.

Dylan Hale of Fayetteville, Ark. (Fayetteville High School): Hale is a 5-foot-10, 195-pound linebacker and running back, who will play linebacker as a Wonder Boy. This past season, Hale, whose older brother Josh, who redshirted last season as a wide receiver for the Wonder Boys, recorded 24 tackles and four tackles for a loss for the Bulldogs, who lost in the Class 7A State Championship Game this past fall. Along with playing linebacker, Hale also had two rushing touchdowns and pass receiving touchdowns at running back. As a junior in 2009, Hale was named a Class 7A West All-Conference selection after rushing 99 times for 478 yards and scored five touchdowns and he also caught 33 passes for 379 yards and had one touchdown. Hale helped FHS to a 15-9-1 record in his career, including posting a 10-4 record this past season. "I am excited for Dylan to reunite with his brother at Tech. He will have a great future," Fayetteville Head Coach Daryl Patton said.

Les Harrison of Springdale, Ark. (Har-Ber High School): Harrison is a 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive end with 4.8 speed in the 40-yard dash. In 2010, Harrison recorded 43 total tackles and seven quarterback pressures for the 10-3 Wildcats. In his high school career, Harrison helped Har-Ber to a 32-6 record. "Les is a good player, a great young man and his best football is ahead of him," said Springdale Har-Ber coach Chris Wood. Wood is a former two-time All-AIC selection at Tech in both 1993 and 1994.

Ricky Hicks of El Dorado, Ark. (El Dorado High School): Hicks is a 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive lineman, who played for Scott Reed at El Dorado. This past season, Hicks recorded 40 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and had two sacks en route to being named an 6A South All-Conference selection. He was part of a Wildcat program that won back-to-back Class 6A State Championships in 2009 and 2010.

Julian Jones of Shreveport, La. (Woodlawn High School): Jones is a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end, who played for DeCarlos Holmes at Woodlawn. On the season, Jones recorded 40 total tackles, four sacks and five tackles for a loss. He is the No. 10 ranked defensive end in the state of Louisiana by Louisiana Football Magazine.

Brandon Keaton of Camden, Ark. (Camden Fairview High School): Keaton is a 5-foot-9, 150-pound quarterback with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. This past season, Keaton was 208-for-322 passing for 3,366 yards and had 39 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 65 percent completion percentage. In addition to his passing, Keaton carried the ball 74 times for 192 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He was named an All-State and All-Conference selection and was named to the Associated Press Super State Team, the Golden Triangle Team (Ouachita, Union and Columbia County), the Camden News Offensive Player of the Year and was the 2010 Arkansas Top Gun Challenge winner. Keaton, who was selected to play on the West squad in this year's Arkansas High School Coaches' Association All-Star Game in July, was a finalist for the Landers Award and was named the Hootens/State Farm Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year. Keaton, who played for Coach Buck James at Camden Fairview, holds school records for consecutive games with a touchdown pass (18), single-game touchdown passes (5, which he accomplished twice in 2010), single-season touchdown passes (39), career touchdown passes (47), single-game passing yards (368), single-season passing yards (3,366), single-season total offensive yards (3,558) and single-season pass completion (208). He was a part of a Cardinals team that played in the last two Class 5A State Championship games, including falling 36-35 this past season in the title game to Greenwood High School. In this year's 5A title game, Keaton completed 18-of-28 passes for 263 yards and had four touchdown passes, along with rushing for 73 yards and a score in the game.

Tanner Knight of Fort Smith, Ark. (Northside High School): Knight is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, who played for Darrell Henry at Northside High School. This past season, Knight, who was a 7A West All-Conference and a 7A All-State selection and a 2010 Burlsworth Award winner, passed for 3,138 yards and in his high school career, Knight threw for over 6,000 yards and ran for more than 1,000 yards. In addition, he had 43 career touchdown passes and 21 career rushing touchdowns and holds the Arkansas large school record for most career 300 yard passing games. Along with playing football for the Grizzlies, Knight also plays baseball at Northside.

Deontae Mitchell of West Memphis, Ark. (West Memphis High School): Mitchell is a 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash. On the season, Mitchell, who played for Lanny Dauksch at WMHS, recorded 72 tackles, including 26 assisted tackles, had 12 interceptions, 15 pass break-ups and scored three defensive touchdowns. He was named a two-time First-Team All-Conference selection and was also a two-time Academic All-Conference honoree. In addition, Mitchell, whose position coach with the Blue Devils was former Wonder Boy defensive back LeRoy Hood (2001-04), was also named a Class 7A All-State selection, a First-Team All-Mid South honoree and a Second-Team ArkansasVarsity.com Second-Team All-State selection after helping lead the Blue Devils to a 9-2 overall record and the second round of the Class 7A State Playoffs. He has also been selected to play for the East Team in this year's Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game.

Kasey Partridge of White Hall, Ark. (White Hall High School): Partridge is a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive tackle who played for Mike Vaughn at White Hall. Partridge was named a two-time All-Conference player and helped lead the Bulldogs to two consecutive Class 5A State Playoff berths.

Codi Randle of Shreveport, La. (Woodlawn High School): Randle is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound wide receiver with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. In 2010, Randle caught 38 passes for 600 yards and had nine touchdowns.

Hayden Severs of Rogers, Ark. (Heritage High School): Severs is a 5-foot-8, 170-pound kicker, who played for Perry Escalante at Heritage High School. This past season, Severs was 46-for-48 on extra point attempts and was 5-for-10 on field goals with a long of 46 yards. In addition, 90 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. Severs was named an All-Conference and All-State selection and he has been selected to play in this year's Arkansas High School Coaches' All-Star Football Game in July. "Hayden has a very strong and accurate leg and he will only get better," Escalante said about Severs.

James (Trey) Sherman of Camden, Ark. (Harmony Grove High School): Sherman is a 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive end, who played for Coach Tony Chambers at Harmony Grove. This past season, Sherman recorded 78 total tackles, including 56 solo stops and recorded 12 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, two pass break-ups and had five forced fumbles. He was named the 2010 Camden News Defensive Player of the Year and was a three-time All-Area and All-Conference selection and a two-time All-State honoree. In addition, he was nominated for Hootens Arkansas Football Defensive Player of the Year this past season and was also won numerous Ivan Smith Defensive Player of the Game awards.

Alex Smith of Sherwood, Ark. (Sylvan Hills High School): Smith is a 6-foot-1, 260-pound offensive and defensive lineman, who played for Coach Jim Withrow at Sylvan Hills. This past season, Smith, who will play on the defensive line at Tech, recorded 60 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks and recovered two fumbles. He was named a two-time 5A Southeast All-Conference honoree and an All-State and All-Metro Team member this past season. In addition, Smith is also a Brandon Burlsworth Award winner and was named the school's Defensive MVP. "As high character player you will ever see. Alex is a great player on the field and even better off the field," Withrow said about Smith.

Garrett Smith of Clinton, Ark. (Clinton High School): Smith is a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive lineman, who played for Coach Chris Dufrene at Clinton High School. This past season, Smith was the tackler for the Yellow Jackets as he recorded 64 tackles, had eight sacks, 20 tackles for a loss and an interception. He was named an All-Conference and All-State selection and was named the 4A-2 Conference Outstanding Lineman and has been selected to play in the 2011 Arkansas High School Coaches' Association All-Star Football game in July. Smith helped lead CHS to a 9-2 record in 2010 and a second-round appearance in the Class 4A State Playoffs. "Garrett is one of the best leaders and players I have ever coached," Dufrene said. "He works extremely hard and has a bright future."

Joseph Tharp of Heber Springs, Ark. (Heber Springs High School): Tharp is a 6-foot-2, 275-pound offensive lineman with 4.9 speed in the 40-yard dash, who played for Coach Steve Janski. In his high school career, Tharp graded out at over 90 percent on the offensive line and he recorded five sacks as a defensive lineman in 2010 for the Panthers. He was named a two-time All-Conference selection and helped the Panthers to a 7-4 record in 2010 and advanced to the Class 4A State Playoffs. Along with playing football at Heber Springs, Tharp is also a member of the school's baseball team.

Andrew Thomas of Memphis, Tenn. (Craigmont High School): Thomas is a 5-foot-8, 175-pound defensive back with 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash. This past season, Thomas earned First-Team All-District and participated in the 2010 Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game. On the season, Thomas, who helped CHS to a 9-2 record in 2010, picked off five passes, had six pass break-ups, recorded 48 tackles and scored a defensive touchdown. In addition to his efforts on defense, Thomas also played wide receiver for the Chiefs as he caught nine passes for 97 yards and had two touchdown receptions. Thomas was also named the school's Best Defensive Back Award winner. "He was a joy to coach. Andrew was the most physical cornerback I've ever had here at this school," Craigmont High School Coach Cecil Vanhooks said.

Lutrell Thomas of Shreveport, La. (Woodlawn High School): Thomas is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound running back and wide receiver with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash. This past season, Thomas, who will play receiver at Tech, rushed for 1,400 yards on 110 carries and scored 12 touchdowns. In addition, he had over 300 yards receiving and two receiving touchdowns and averaged over 43 yards per punt. He was ranked as the No. 31 football player in the state of Louisiana by Louisiana Football Magazine.

 

 

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