NAU coach Jerome Souers and staff have put together a solid recruiting class that is made up of some of the top talents in Arizona, a strong contingent from California and experienced JUCO transfers. This influx of new talent is balanced on both sides of the ball and should add both depth and potential starters.
NAU's Arizona signees are a who's who of prep football in the state. Highlighting the class is Moon Valley's Brian Wriston (1st Team 24-7 All State). Wriston, who rewrote the record book while leading his team to a 4A state title, has a live arm and the ability to move well in the pocket. His strongest attribute may be the confidence and swagger with which he plays, a must for a QB. Potentially, Wriston may be able to throw the ball to Austin Martin (1st Team 24-7 All-State) of Mt.Ridge. The 6'1 185 pound Martin may well have been the best athlete playing football in Arizona last year. Martin's switch to QB was the catalyst for Mt. Ridge's run to the state title game. Martin's combination of size and speed should make him a solid college receiver. Another Valley wideout Flagstaff bound is Andrew Leahy (1st Team 24-7 All State) of Paradise Valley. Although overshadowed by teammate Matt Clapp, Leahy had one of the top two way seasons in the state having 41 catches on O and 7 pics on D. Another future target for Wriston is Highland tight end Shaun Fitzpatrick (1st Team 24-7 All State). Fitzpatrick is an old school tight end that runs great patterns, has soft hands and is an additional O lineman in the run game. Rounding out the Valley group is Pinnacle RB/DB Cyrus Igono. Igono will be the third member of his family to play at NAU and should bring tremendous athletic skills to the Lumberjack secondary. Finally, Anthony Williams of Pinetop Blueridge will join NAU. The 6'5 Williams was the top defensive player in 3A this past season and helped to lead his team to two state titles during his high school career.
NAU's out of state recruits are every bit as impressive as the in state group. The NAU staff did a great job of recruiting some of the top western state players. One of the top players brought in from California is linebacker William Alo. Alo, who will join his cousin Jeremiah Toloumu in the linebacking corps, is from player factory Long Beach Poly where he was a three year starter, set the schools single season tackle record and was 1st team All-CIF. On the offensive side of the ball, big lineman Ryne Holstrom of West Linn, Oregon picked the lumberjacks over Oregon and Oregon State. Also out of Oregon is 6'3 195 QB Ryan Rauschert who was his states All 3A selection. Raushert threw for over 2,400 yards last season. The junior college contingent will be asked to make an immediate impact for the Lumberjacks. Of the six junior college transfers five have been on campus since December. Two linebackers D.J. Wade and 6'0 232 and Joe Mitchell 6'1 230 are coming off of strong seasons last year and may contribute right away. One transfer who should be fun to watch will be 5'5 170 pound Brandon Anthony. Last season at Palomar College Anthony averaged nearly twenty yards per punt return.
Evaluation: The Lumberjacks have put together a strong group of potential players. Coach Souers made great strides in recruiting the Valley this year and managed to keep top athletes in state. The class is balanced geographically and by position. Needs at linebacker and offensive line were specifically addressed bringing in four players each at those positions.