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LU adds nine on National Signing Day

Mike Schultz, head coach of the Lamar football program, addresses the media during National Signing Day, Feb. 6, in the Dauphin-Athletic Complex. UP photo by Cassandra Jenkins
Mike Schultz, head coach of the Lamar football program, addresses the media during National
Signing Day, Feb. 6, in the Dauphin-Athletic Complex. UP photo by Cassandra Jenkins

Lamar University participated in National Signing Day, Feb. 6, in the Dauphin-Athletic Complex, as head coach Mike Schultz listed the nine new players who will be joining the Lamar football program in the fall.

“It’s an exciting day, it always is on National Signing Day,” Schultz said. “We are excited about the student-athletes that have committed to come here.”

Schultz said he first wanted to thank his staff who worked around the clock to ensure a successful recruiting period.

“I cannot tell you what a great job they did,” he said. “They have been relentless in recruiting and I know sometimes it turns into a 24/7 job, and that’s exactly what they did — a great job.”

Schultz said this recruiting period was about meeting needs and filling holes after the team lost a handful of graduating seniors on both offense and defense.

“When you look at where we are offensively, we lost five receivers, one quarterback and one offensive lineman to graduation,” he said. “Defensively, we lost five defensive backs, one linebacker and one defensive end to graduation. So, we had some holes to fill and I think we got a very nice blend of junior college players, transfers and high school student-athletes who have committed to Lamar University.”

After touching on a few of the early signees, Schultz addressed the nine student athletes they gained during National Signing Day, starting off with the offensive side which included one quarterback and two wide receivers.

“We hadn’t talked about him too much, but we signed a quarterback of the name Will McBride out of League City, who was originally at the University of Tennessee. He is already on campus and he has three years of eligibility left. We are excited to see what he will bring us in the future.

“We also have a commitment from a guy named Kenny Allen (WR). He was at East Los Angeles Community College last year. Kenny is very fast, so along the lines of trying to recruit bigger, stronger, faster, we are still in that mode. Along with him, we also took another man out of California JC and his name is Ryan Matlock (WR). Ryan is an extremely fast athlete and we are excited about him being here.”

Schultz said that defense took the biggest hit and was their main priority during recruitment which concluded with the signing of five defensive backs during National Signing Day.

“We had five defensive backs graduate,” he said. “We had one defensive lineman and one linebacker graduate. So, we had immediate holes to fill. At the linebacker position we have Dallas Martin. Dallas is a transfer from Marshall University — big, athletic, fast linebacker. Kyron Norwood is another one we are really excited about. He is 5-11, 185 pounds, and we feel like Kyron is a dual-threat guy — and when I say dual-threat on defense, I think he can help us on corner or safety. He’s from Pearl River Junior College, he is on campus participating in our off-season workouts and will go through spring training with us.

“Michael Lawson is from San Francisco City College and Mike is here on campus. He actually signed with us in the early signing period. Again, he is a young man who we look forward to working with this spring. He is going to fill some of those holes we had to fill in the back-end of our defense.”

Schultz said there were also some students they hadn’t signed until the early morning of National Signing Day, Nakota Shepard-Creer and their only high school signee of the day, Anthony Ruffin.

“Nakota Shepard-Creer is a man from Santa Barbara City College and is another big safety,” he said. “He is 6-2 and 200 pounds. He is very athletic, can run,and we are excited about having this young man on campus. He will join us in the first summer session.

“Keshawn Young is a young man who was at Antelope Valley College out of California. Keshawn is actually a Louisiana native and this was a young man who wanted to be closer to home. The last one is a high school young man, Anthony Ruffin, another safety. It is good to a have a young one in that group at 6-1, 190 pounds and very physical.”

Schultz said he is excited about the prospect of the new signees and feels like this signing class helped fill the holes and gaps that needed to be filled in the team and after going down the list, he noticed that recruiting was easier this year after a successful, 7-5 (overall) 6-3 (SLC), season that included Lamar’s first appearance in a playoff game in more than a decade.

“I don’t know if the kids talked about it a lot, but we talked about it a lot,” he said. “It helped a lot. Kids saw Lamar football on ESPN, they saw us in the playoffs and it was a big deal. We carried the success we had in the season right into recruiting and it made a difference.

“When you are going and recruiting with a 5-7 season and a trip to the playoffs versus a 2-9 season and you have to figure out what you are going to do next — it definitely helps a lot.”

Schultz said another major advantage in the recruiting process was being able to show off recent changes, like the fully operational nutrition center in the complex, and discuss future changes to the program such as new turf and room upgrades.

“At the FCS level, I can’t think of more than two schools that have a fully operational nutrition center like we do,” he said. “It is in, it is operating, and our kids come in and it’s a great advantage for us, but also a great sell for recruiting. People see it and think it is pretty cool.

“Things like that help and there are going to be some more improvements on the way. I think we are close to getting this building (Dauphin-Athletic Complex) some new graphics, and maybe in a year from now we are going to get some new turf. There are a lot of things that are still happening that we are excited about.”

Schultz said he is still waiting for some athletes and students to add to the team, but he feels happy with the decisions so far and can’t wait to see the current athletes practice and perform on the field.

Story by Jenkins, UP editor

Category: Sports