Jerod Fernandez, a linebacker that myself and coach Huxtable are really excited about. I know that he is a player coach Hux had a great relationship with at Pitt, and when he came here he was able to re-affirm that.
Jerod has been one of the best leaders in this class as far as others trying to contact him during the transition and him staying strong and being a big part of what we're doing. I'm really excited about how much he wants to be at State. That's important. You want great players, but you want great players who want to play where you're at and be a part of it.
I'm really excited about what he brings to the table. Very physical, plays behind his pads, plays downhill, you can see him flip his hips in coverage and break on the ball. When he hits people they go the direction you want them to go as a defender.
With what we have position-wise at linebacker right now he has a chance to play very early within our scheme. He comes from a really good program as well. He'll be a sideline-to-sideline player in our 4-3 scheme.
Detroit (MI) Cass Tech Defensive Tackle Kenton Gibbs
Coach Faulkner had a relationship with Kenton, and he comes from Cass Tech, one of the powerhouses in Detroit, Michigan. He's another state championship player.
Kenton is a guy that went from 300 pounds to 250 pounds to increase his speed and now he's up to about 285. He's a tremendous weight-room guy.
Coach Wilcher is one of the best coaches in the country on the high school level and he does a tremendous job with that program. I've coached several players out of Cass Tech, and everyone of them has been tough, smart, and dependable.
I look forward to having him here.
Walled Lake Western (MI) Safety Josh Jones
Another Motor City guy, Josh Jones is a big safety. He's a contact player. Not only did he do things on defense, also as a returner on special teams and a receiver on offense. He's 6'2 and 200 pounds... we felt like he's a guy that can play a lot of positions for us.
Josh took a lot of visits and took his time. He went about the process the right way.
He came here and actually committed to us before the North Carolina game. He loved the passion of the fans and he could feel it... the minute he got in the arena he grabbed me when he was walking to the elevator and gave me a big hug. It was pretty cool for a guy to feel that way about a place. He had been on four other visits so it was a guy that wasn't just seeing something for the first time. I think he knew what he wanted and felt it when he got here.
With our situation at safety, from a depth standpoint, the three safeties that we have in this class will have a chance to play early. Josh being one of those players, Malcolm Means being another, and Dravious Wright.
Richburg (SC) Lewisville Safety Malcolm Means
Malcolm Means is from across the border, and one of the players that is probably a late-bloomer in some guy's minds. He's a transfer into this high school, Lewisville, and coach Kitchings found him. He is one of the players that really stood out to the Shrine Bowl coaches.
He can really run... a long, 6'2 safety with great speed and ball skills. He was a tremendous player on offense, good with the ball in his hands, but we see him as a safety in our scheme.
Malcolm really had a great Shrine Bowl and there was a lot of cross-the-way competition for him. We were able to hold on to him. Look forward to getting him here... I know he's excited and has a nice chip on his shoulder. He looks forward to competing early.
Malcolm was here the first recruiting weekend... the weekend we beat Duke, and Malcolm was one of the guys that stormed the court with the student body. You could tell right away that he was buying into the passion of the fans and the students.
He's a ball-hawk.
Plantation (FL) Defensive Tackle Monty Nelson
Monty was one of our last commitments out of Plantation High School under Steve Davis. Monty is a defensive tackle, 300-plus pounder, 500-bench guy, and one of the top wrestlers in Florida as well. Coach Nielsen did a good job of getting in on Monty.
Monty chose us over a couple of SEC schools, and we really felt good about him as a person. Coach Canada actually coached coach Davis' son at Indiana, and had a great relationship with coach Davis.
It was just a good fit. He wanted to go somewhere that he could play for a defensive line coach that played the position and could help him reach the level he wanted.
I know he and Kenton Gibbs really fell in love with our strength program and that's something that sold him as well.
Shelby (NC) Crest Linebacker Quinton Patterson
A contact player and a guy that plays both ways the entire game. He was a great fullback for them as well.
A linebacker with great size. He was here this past weekend for his official visit. Another guy that was committed, and he is a State kid all the way. It's where he wanted to go.
He and coach Huxtable have been able to build a great relationship. The program he's coming from, listening to his coach talk about how tough this kid is... he did so many different things for them. He never asked questions and did what he was told. He was a great program guy.
Vero Beach (FL) Cornerback Sean Paul
Sean is, in my opinion, one of the top corners in the state of Florida. Sean did a lot of things for Vero Beach. Lenny Jankowski was his high school coach and is a close friend. Sean and Dravious Wright are high school teammates. Coach McNutt recruited them.
Sean comes from a great program and chose us over several schools within the conference, and he had some opportunities to change his mind on us and he didn't after he committed. I was really proud of him for that.
Sean is another guy who can return kicks. He plays with high energy, a high motor. He's a very intelligent football player and has a great aptitude. Sean is a guy that will have the ability from a mental standpoint and a competitive standpoint to play early. I think that's something he wanted to do.
He really hit it off on his visit with some of the hosts. I know Dontae Johnson did a great job talking to him about mentoring him his senior year, and that meant a lot to Sean, which to me, says a lot about Dontae.
Scotland Co. (NC) Linebacker Artemis Robinson
Artemis, from Scotland High School and coach Bailey, one of the best programs in the state. I know this guy does a lot of things on tape that I like.
He's versatile, he blitzes off the edge, he beats blocks with his hands, he plays over bent knees, and he has the linebacker footwork that I look for... guys that are under control and play behind their pads on contact.
I talk to this guy and he is very serious. With him and Quinton, you can tell those two are going to fit in well together, and with Jerod Fernandez, we've got three contact-oriented linebackers that understand leverage and how to play the game.
To me, that's really important in our program right now, getting guys like that... you don't have to train them to play a position, they know how to play it.
Charlotte (NC) Independence Defensive Back Jack Tocho
Jack Tocho, a 4.0 student from a great program in the state, Independence High School. A defensive back, he plays corner, safety, and returns kicks. He's another guy that wanted to be at State the whole time. Never once did he look around on us. He held true to his commitment and comes from a great family.
His high school coach will be in the high school Hall of Fame at some point. I really enjoyed going down there for my visit. I know coach Huxtable went in there about every week to see him. It's good to get a player out of that program as well.
I know coach McNutt enjoyed getting to know Jack and just how serious he was. We don't have a lot of depth in the secondary, so we're getting a guy in Jack that is mature mentally and you know he is going to handle his business off the field and in the classroom. Those are the guys that are normally mature enough to handle playing early if you need them to do it, especially on special teams.
We were able to get five defensive backs and six receivers, that's 11 guys that can run and help your special teams... three tailbacks, that's 14 guys. All of a sudden your special teams gets faster. That's very important when making plays in space like those guys are going to have to do.
Vero Beach (FL) Defensive Back Dravious Wright
Dre is a corner, nickel safety, and return guy. The thing I like about Dre... Dre is a contact player. He will flat knock people out. Those are my kind of guys on defense and special teams.
He'll block punts... there's not many corners who will hit like linebackers, but he will. He puts his face on people as we call it. That's what I like about Dre.
A guy that played in the all-star game, he plays with passion. He's tough. I've known about him for a long time. I'm really excited to have him in this class with us.