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GSU signs 24 football players
Needs addressed at QB, in the secondary and in the trenches
020112 GSU RECRUITS 02
Georgia Southern head football coach Jeff Monken introduces the recruiting class of 2012 during a news conference Wednesday, National Signing Day, at the Parrish Football Center. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

2012 Georgia Southern Signing Class
Dequan Clark, dl, 6-1, 275, Buford (Ga.) HS
Montay Crockett, wr, 6-0, 175, S. Pointe HS, Rock Hill, S.C.
James Dean, rb, 6-1, 195, Glynn Academy, Brunswick, Ga.
Deonte Dempsey, dl, 6-3, 245, Victory Chrstn., Lakeland, Fla.
Matt Dobson, qb, 6-0, 205, N. Fla. Chrstn, Monticello, Fla.
Kevin Ellison, qb, 6-0, 180, Habersham Central HS, Cornelia, Ga.
Patrick Flowe, lb, 6-1, 210, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.
Darien Foreman, ol, 6-4, 285, Dunwoody (Ga.) HS
Deshawntee Gallon, db, 5-11, 190, Madison County (Fla) HS
Lanard "Nardo" Govan, ath, 6-2, 230, Savannah Christian
Tre Griffin, dl, 6-2, 235, North Cobb, Powder Springs, Ga.
Vegas Harley, qb, 6-0, 185, Mount Dora (Fla.) HS
Daquan Heard, te, 6-3, 245, Washington-Wilkes (Ga.) HS
Tay Hicklin, db, 5-10, 175, South Pointe HS, Rock Hill, S.C.
Irving Huggins, rb, 6-1, 215, Hargrave, St. Cloud, Fla.
Jamal Johnson, dl, 6-3, 240, Southeast Bulloch HS
Jermaine Morris, dl, 6-1, 235, Archer HS, Dacula, Ga.
Corey Neely, db, 6-1, 190, South Pointe HS, Rock Hill, S.C.
Grady Redding, db, 5-11, 190, Cocoa (Fla.) HS
Diego Rodriguez, ol, 6-3, 250, Dacula (Ga.) HS
Wintz Terrell, ol, 6-2, 297, Hardee (Fla.) HS
Shun Tribble, rb, 5-9, 170, Woodruff HS, Enoree, S.C.
Devonte Wheaton, rb, 5-9, 170, Etowah HS, Woodstock, Ga
Michael Young, ol, 5-11, 265, Tucker HS, Stone Mtn., Ga.


    Georgia Southern signed 24 football players, including three quarterbacks, to national letters of intent on Wednesday, National Signing Day.
    “It’s a large class,” GSU head coach Jeff Monken said during an afternoon news conference at the Parrish Football Center. “We are losing 22 seniors this year off of our football team, some key players, some guys that we’re really going to miss, and with those positions that are being vacated, we really tried to make an effort to fill those spots with young guys, as well as kind of go heavy in some areas where we didn’t have as many as we’d like.”
    Vegas Harley, a 6-foot, 185-pound quarterback from Mount Dora (Fla.) High School, kept Monken and his assistants guessing Wednesday morning. The three-star recruit by Rivals.com and ESPN chose GSU over Memphis, a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
    “We battled even this morning on Vegas Harley,” Monken said. “He hadn’t made up his mind … Vegas was just kind of going back and forth between us  and another school, and we’re very fortunate that he chose Georgia Southern … He was being recruited by some other schools to play a different position, and I think he chose Georgia Southern with the hope that  he could play quarterback, and we certainly think he can.”
    Harley finished his career with 7,910 yards of total offense in three years at quarterback. He ran for 1,384 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior, and threw for 1,328 yards and 11 touchdowns.
    GSU also signed quarterbacks Kevin Ellison (6-foot, 180) from Habersham Central High School in Cornelia, and Matt Dobson (6-foot, 205) from North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla. Ellison, a one-star recruit by ESPN, tallied 5,100 yards and 83 touchdowns rushing, and 1,412 yards passing and 15 touchdowns during his career. Dobson, a three-star QB by Rivals.com, finished his career with 4,297 yards passing and 42 touchdowns, and ran for 1,415 yards and 20 touchdowns.
    “We’re only losing one quarterback in Jaybo Shaw but we signed three,” Monken said. “We were only able to sign one a year ago, and that’s Prince McJunkins. That gives us three in the program right now with Jerick (McKinnon), (Ezayi) ‘Izzy’ (Youyoute) and Prince. In terms of scholarship quarterbacks, we felt like we needed to get some more guys there, and we feel like we got three really good quarterbacks.”
    If Harley, Ellison and Dobson don’t succeed at quarterback, Monken said he hopes they can play another position.
    “Certainly, Jerick is a great example of that,” Monken said of McKinnon, who played at quarterback, slot back and defensive back last season. “We feel like he can play about every skill position on the football team. And we’d like to get as many guys like that as possible. Where these three guys fit in, I’m not sure. Each one of them is different.”
    Monken said the secondary was another area of concern because of the loss of senior cornerbacks Laron Scott and Hudson Presume, and freshman cornerback Riyahd Jones, who is no longer enrolled. The Eagles signed four defensive backs. Monken said three weeks ago GSU also added transfers Tevin Thomas (6-1, 205) from Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College and Valdon Cooper (5-11, 170) from the University of Illinois to play cornerback.
    Grady Redding (5-11, 190) of Cocoa (Fla.) High School will get a chance to play at safety, Monken said. Monken called the two-star recruit by ESPN and Rivals.com “a smaller version of Josh Rowe,” GSU’s Mike linebacker.
    “We really felt like we needed to help our numbers at quarterback and in the secondary,” Monken said. “I’d say those two positions were ones that we really targeted to try to get some guys. We also felt a need at B-back. We have a couple of young guys there but just not a lot of depth. We moved Robert Brown to A-back, which we think is a really good move for our football team, as well as for him.”
    One of GSU’s more intriguing signees, Monken said, is Savannah Christian’s Lanard “Nardo” Govan (6-2, 230), who signed as an athlete.
    “We feel like he’s one of the best skill players in Savannah and the Coastal Empire,” Monken said. “We list him as an athlete. We have no idea where we’re going to put him when he gets here. But we’re going to find a place for him to play."
    GSU signed five defensive linemen, four offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three quarterbacks, two A-backs, two B-backs and a linebacker, wide receiver, tight end and athlete.
    “I really felt like we helped ourselves on the defensive line with some outstanding athletes, players we think may be able to come in in the fall and make an impact for us as freshmen,” said Monken, who must replace seniors John Douglas and Roderick Tinsley. “And we really tried to shore up each position. We took guys at each position. There was no position, with the exception of specialists, that went unfulfilled in this class, so we’re excited about the group we have.”
    GSU is searching for players to replace seniors Adrian Mora (field goals, extra points), Billy Greer (kickoffs), Charlie Edwards (punter) and Carter Jones (long snapper).
    “In terms of our punters, kickers and long snappers, because of the nature of that position, so few of those guys around the country, as you’re watching the recruiting classes come in today, very few kickers, punters and long snappers are being taken on full scholarship,” Monken said. “And there’s going to be a lot of those guys looking for a home in the coming days and weeks."
    GSU finished last season 11-3, advancing to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals for a second consecutive season. The Eagles won their first Southern Conference championship outright since 2002, and their first league title since 2004, when they shared with Furman.

Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.