UWA football signs 25 for National Signing Day

Coming off a Gulf South Conference championship in 2017 and a trip to the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs, Coach Brett Gilliland and his staff received signatures from 25 football players Wednesday.

Fourteen offensive players were added to the fold, along with nine defenders, a kicker/punter and an athlete. The Tigers signed six wide receivers, five offensive linemen, five defensive backs, two defensive linemen and two linebackers. UWA inked one player each at running back, fullback, athlete, kicker/punter and quarterback.

“It’s a great day to be a Tiger as we have reloaded our roster with some great young men,” Gilliland, the 2017 GSC coach of the year said. “Our staff has worked tirelessly in order to put together a signing class that fits specific needs on our roster and includes young men who will fit within the culture of our program.

“These young men will be a great addition to our returning players and we look forward to working toward the fall,” Gilliland said.

The Tigers open the 2018 season with three straight home games, beginning Thursday, Aug. 30 against Lenoir-Rhyne. Miles College and Valdosta State round out the homestand to open the season.

Spring drills for the Tigers are expected to begin Feb. 22.

Following brief thumbnail sketches on the February signees, followed by the mid-year signees:

2018 West Alabama Football February Signees

McKane Atkins, DL, 6-3, 217, Beauregard High School, Opelika, Ala.
Recorded 84 total tackles, 25 solo … Helped lead BHS to 10-2 record … Had six sacks, a caused fumble and recovered two fumbles … Helped lead BHS to Class 5A state championship … Also participated in track and field in 100m, 200m, javelin and long jump.

Sam Armstrong, OL, 6-7, 270, Lawrence County High School, Courtland, Ala.
Multi-year starter … Helped pave the way for LCHS for three straight postseason appearances … All-region and all-area selection.

Jared Averette, OL, 6-4, 315, Bibb County High School, Centreville, Ala.
Helped lead Bibb County High to a playoff berth in 2017 and an 11-2 record … Played both offensive and defensive tackle.

Deveon Ball, DB, 6-4, 208, Hinds Community College, Noxubee County High School, Macon, Miss.
Recorded 33 tackles and intercepted four passes in eight games for Hinds … Had 27 solo tackles … Averaged 4.1 tackles per game … Recovered one fumble … All-State South.

Demetrius Battle, RB, 6-1, 230, John Carroll High School, Birmingham, Ala.
Rushed for 881 yards as a senior and 1,851 career yards at John Carroll High School … Scored 31 career rushing touchdowns and averaged 4.0 yards per carry … Averaged 5.7 yards per carry as a senior … Had 29 career receptions for 446 yards and two TDs … Also had 25 tackles as a defender this season, including one sack … Also played at Restoration Academy.

*Ian Blake, OL, 6-5, 310, West Blocton High School, West Blocton, Ala.
Played both sides of the line of scrimmage at West Blockton … Had 21 tackles and a sack as a junior

Nathan Cobb, K/P, 5-11, 169, Florence High School, Florence, Ala.
Averaged 40.5 yards per punt and had 44 touchbacks as a senior kicker … Helped the Falcons earn a spot in 6A playoffs … Florence TimesDaily’s Class 4A-6A first team all-area punter … Five-star rating as a punter by Kohl’s Professional Kicking Camps, 4.5-star kicker.

Lawson Darden, OL, 6-6, 305, Bibb County High School, Centreville, Ala.
Played tackle and guard on offense … Doubled as a defensive end …

Trey Elston, DB, 6-2, 180, Auburn High School, Auburn, Ala.
Averaged 14.8 yards per reception … Also played basketball at AHS, averaging 7.7 points, 2.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds.

Gavin Griffin, QB, 6-2, 190, Southside High School, Southside, Ala.
First-team All Etowah County … Helped lead SHS to a third-place finish in the region … Honor Roll and National Honor Society.

Brody Guin, LB, 6-1, 215, Sipsey Valley High School, Buhl, Ala.
Played middle linebacker and tight end at SVHS … Also plays baseball at Sipsey Valley.

Collin Herring, FB, 5-10, 225, Gordo High School, Gordo, Ala.
Helped lead the Green Wave to a 10-2 record and a trip to the playoffs … Three-time ASWA All-state, twice as a linebacker and once as an athlete … Also played baseball at GHS, hitting .281 with 24 runs batted in … Had a 10-3 pitching record with a 0.91 earned run average … Went 3-for-3 with two RBI in state championship baseball game as a junior.

Joshua Jolly, 6-1, 192, LB, T.R. Miller High School, Brewton, Ala.
Rushed for 400 yards and four TDs … on 52 carries … Averaged 7.7 yards per carry … Completed 16-of-43 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns … Recorded 42 total tackles, 35 solo. Had an interception and five passes defended … Also played basketball at T.R. Miller as a shooting guard and small forward.

Mike Kidd, DB, 6-1, 180, Baker High School, Mobile, Ala.
Helped lead BHS to a second-place regional finish … Played on high school varsity team since seventh grade.

Jamarcus Knight, WR, 6-2, 180, Auburn High School, Auburn, Ala.
Helped lead Auburn High to a 10-2 record and state playoff appearance … Team’s leading receiver with 400 yards and 4 TDs … Long catch of 50 yards … Opelika-Auburn News All-Area Team.

Shamar Lewis, ATH, 5-11, 178, Sweet Water High School, Dixon Mills, Ala.
First-team all-state … Helped lead SWHS to a 14-1 record and a 1A state championship West Alabama Watchman Player of the Year … … Rushed for 1,205 yards and 12 touchdowns on 129 carries … Averaged 9.3 yards per carry as a senior … Recorded 94 tackles on defense … Had 32 tackles for loss, returned two fumbles for TDs … Had three sacks and five PBUs … Was Most Valuable Player in state championship game, rushing for 95 yards on 16 carries … also had a 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the state title game to go along with four tackles, an interception and two passes broken up … Also played baseball, hitting .375 … Played guard on the basketball team, averaging 10 points per game

RayRay Maye, WR, 5-10, 180, Excel High School, Excel, Ala.
Caught 39 passes for 487 yards and four touchdowns … Averaged 12.5 yards per reception … Had 70 carries for 248 yards and two TDs … Completed 17-of-35 passing attempts or 316 yards and five touchdowns … 793 all-purpose yards and 1,051 total yards … Punted 10 times for a 26.7 average … Averaged 11.6 yards per kickoff and punt returns.

Dalton McKenzie, WR, 5-9, 180, Monroe Academy, Monroeville, Ala.
ASWA All-State selection … Three-year starter at Monroe Academy … First Team all-county, Second-team all-state … Helped lead his team to a regional championship and a runner-up state championship finish … Four-year starter, all-county and AISA Allstar in baseball … All-county and defensive player of the year in his one season of basketball.

Griffin McKenzie, WR, 5-8, 180, Monroe Academy, Monroeville, Ala.
Played quarterback at Monroe Academy … First-team all-county … First-team all-state … ASWA All-State … Helped lead his team to a regional championship and a runner-up state championship finish … Four-year letter winner in baseball … All-county and AISA Allstar in baseball.

Cordell Plott, DB, 5-10, 170, Auburn High School, Auburn, Ala.
Played cornerback and wide receiver for Auburn High … 10th rated player in state of Alabama by MaxPreps … Averaged 11.0 yards per reception … Helped lead AHS to 10-2 record and state playoff appearance.

Kornelius Rogers, OL, 6-5, 280, East Mississippi Community College, Magee High School, Magee, Miss.
Helped lead EMCC to a junior college national championship.

Callahan Saggus, DL, 6-5, 300, Opelika High School, Opelika, Ala.
Recorded 22 tackles, 14 solo … Had a half sack and recovered a fumble.

Jay Thomas, DB, 6-2, 183, Hale County High School, Moundville, Ala.
Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State player … Recorded 66 total tackles … Had three interceptions and caused one fumble … Averaged 6.4 tackles per game … Caught 33 passes as a receiver for 525 yards and three TDs … Averaged 15.9 yards per reception … Averaged 20.8 yards per kick return.

Tremayne Tolbert, WR, 6-2, 197, College of Siskiyous, Troup, Ga., West Point, Ga.
Had 32 receptions for 402 yards and two touchdowns at Siskiyous … Averaged 12.6 yards per reception … Played football, baseball and basketball at Troup County High School … Had 51 receptions for 886 yards at TCHS … Averaged 17.4 yards per reception
Jam Woods, WR, Gadsden City High School, Gadsden, Ala.

Jam Woods, WR, 6-1, 185, Gadsden City High School, Gadsden, Ala.
Averaged 26.3 yards per reception with three touchdowns,

2017-18 Mid-Year Signees

Jordyn Bowlin, LB, 6-1, 205, Ackerman, Miss., Starkville (Miss.) High School, Northeast Mississippi Community College, Jones County Junior College
Played in 10 games as a sophomore at Jones County JC, making 45 tackles, 34 solo … Recorded three sacks and recovered three fumbles as a JCJC sophomore … Played in eight games as a freshman at Northeast Mississippi Community College, recording 27 tackles … Appeared in 10 games recorded 39 total tackles as a junior at Starkville High School … Helped lead SHS to 2014 Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Division 2, Class 6A championship … Had 56 tackles in 12 games as a senior … Played in annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game in Gulfport.

Jon Michael Edwards, DL, 6-4, 250, Montgomery, Ala., Carver (Ala.) High School, Southern Miss
Appeared in four games as a redshirt freshman at Southern Miss, making one tackle … Named to the 2014-15 Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Did not compete during the season, taking a redshirt … Three-star recruit coming out of Carver (Ala.) High School … according to Rivals.com, 247sports.com and Scout.com … Ranked 121 in the nation according to Scout.com … 52nd ranked defensive end and 29th best player in the state of Mississippi according to 247sports.com … Helped the Wolverines to a 39-12 overall record in four years … Named First Team All-Metro as a senior and Second Team All-Metro as a junior … Registered 152 total career tackles (101 solo), 16.5 sacks, one forced fumble and six quarterback hurries … As a senior, made 77 total tackles (56 solo) with 12.5 sacks, one forced fumble and five quarterback hurries … As a junior, made 45 total tackles (24 solo) with 2.0 sacks and a quarterback hurry … As a sophomore, made 30 total tackles (21 solo) with 2.0 sacks in seven games played … Played in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl in December 2013 in Dallas.

Lavorciay Gaddis, DB, 5-10, 180, Foxworth, Miss., West Marion (Miss.) High School, Southwest Mississippi Community College
Played in nine games and recorded 59 total tackles and an interception as a sophomore at SWCC … Played in eight games as a freshman at SWCC, recording 39 total tackles, two broken up passes, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles … First-team all-state defensive back as a senior and all-state receiver as a junior at West Marion High School … Recorded 131 tackles and had 17 touchdowns as a senior at West Marion High.

Dorsett Johnson, LB, 6-1, 220, Memphis, Tenn., Memphis Central High School, Samford University
Played in five games in 2017 at Samford, recording Recorded 11 total tackles, six solo … Saw action in 10 games in 2016, finishing the season with 10 total tackles, including five solo stops … Redshirted in 2015 … Was an All-State linebacker at Memphis Central High School … Also named All-District and All-Metro … Selected to play in the East-West Tennessee All-Star Game … As a senior, tallied 64 tackles, 13 sacks, eight tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one interception … Also competed in basketball and track at Memphis Central.

Anfernee Jordan, DB, 6-0, 170, Hazlehurst, Miss., Hazlehurst High School, Southwest Mississippi Community College
Recorded 34 tackles and had two interceptions as a sophomore at Southwest Community College … Returned one interception for a touchdown …  Saw action in six games & had an assisted tackle as a freshman at SWCC … Played at Hazlehurst (Miss.) High School … Helped lead HHS to 12-1 record as a senior … Recorded 118 career tackles, 87 solo … Had seven career interceptions and broke up five passes … Scored eight rushing and four receiving touchdowns in HHS career.

Tyriq Martin, WR, 6-3, 185, Goose Creek, S.C., Goose Creek High School, Palmetto Prep
Played last season at Palmetto Prep in South Carolina after playing at Goose Creek (S.C.) High School … Caught 64 passes for 831 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior a Goose Creek … Had 84 career receptions for 1,093 yards and 11 TDs … Also rushed the ball 79 times for 993 yards and eight touchdowns at GCHS … Averaged 12.6 yards per carry and three touchdowns of 100-plus yards … 2,402 career all-purpose yards … 2017 South Carolina Class 5A 200-meter state champion, winning in time of 21.60 … All-region selection and North-South All-Star choice … Had two catches at Palmetto for 49 yards and a touchdown.

Dorrean McLaurin, WR, 6-2, 190, Collins, Miss., Collins High School, East Mississippi Community College
Had 11 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore at EMCC, averaging 10 yards per catch … Had five receptions for 53 yards as a freshman at EMCC … Averaged 10.6 yards per reception as a freshman at EMCC … Had 72 career receptions for 1,461 yards at Collins (Miss.) High School … Had 18 career prep receiving touchdowns, averaging 20.3 yards per catch.

Chase Mitchell, DB, 5-11, 190, Jacksonville, Fla., Oakleaf High School, Southwest Mississippi Community College
Had 19 tackles, all solo stops, and an interception in eight games as a sophomore at Southwest Community College … As a freshman at SMCC he appeared in all nine games, returning 12 kickoffs for 188 yards and one punt for 14 yards … As a high school senior recorded more than 50 tackles, had one interception and 10 pass breakups … Set a school-record with a 99-yard rushing touchdown

Christian Saulsberry, WR, 5-8, 180, Southhaven, Miss., Northpoint Christian High School, Itawamba (Miss.) Community College
Had 41 receptions for 510 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College … Averaged 12.4 yards per reception … Caught 14 passes for 148 yards as a freshman at ICC … As a senior at Northpoint Christian High School, he earned Tennessee Sports Writers Association first-team all-state as an athlete … Helped lead Northpoint Christian to state championship game and 13 consecutive wins … Had 1390 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 315 yards while adding three scores as a high school senior … Had 872 combined kickoff and punt return yards, with six returned for touchdowns … As a defender had 33 tackles and five interceptions, two of which were pick sixes.

La’Thomas Sharp, OL, 6-3, 315, Woodville, Miss., Wilkinson County (Miss.) High School, Mississippi Delta Community College
Recorded 46 career tackles in two seasons at Wilkinson County (Miss.) High School, 44 solo stops … Also played basketball in high school, averaging 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds over 46 games.

Jonnas Spivey, WR, 6-2, 190, Louin, Miss., Bay Springs High School, Mississippi State University, Jones County Community College
Caught 18 passes for 340 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore at Jones County (Miss.) Junior College … Averaged 18.9 yards per reception as a sophomore … Three-star athlete out of Bay Springs (Miss.) High School … Played on both sides of the ball and was quarterback at Bay Springs, which advanced to the second round of the 2014 Class 2A playoffs … Ranked No. 22 in the state of Mississippi by 247Sports Composite, No. 23 by Rivals.com, No. 26 by Scout.com and No. 19 by ESPN.com … In 2014, completed 80-of-112 passes for 1,431 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and 133 rushes for 1,002 yards and 13 touchdowns … Notched 17 tackles (five solos) and eight interceptions (three returned for a touchdowns) as a senior … Also had offers from Tennessee, Arkansas State and Southern Miss following senior year at BSHS.

Chancie Tidwell, TE, 6-0, 221, Clinton, Miss., Clinton High School, Jones County Junior College
Had eight receptions for 126 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore at JCJC … Averaged 15.8 yards per reception … Had six receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown as a freshman at JCJC … All-MACJC South second-team.

Xavier Williamson, DB, 6-0, 175, Paulding, Miss., Heidelberg (Miss.) High School, East Central (Miss.) Community College
Played in nine games and recorded 30 total tackles as a sophomore at ECCC … Played in 10 games as a juco freshman, recording 50 tackles … Had 3.5 career tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, one interception (pick six) and six broken up passes at ECCC … Played both defensive back and quarterback at Heidelberg (Miss.) High School … First-team all-county selection.