The Troy University football program enjoyed a banner day on Wednesday, as 28 players faxed in their National Letters of Intent on National Signing Day.
The crop of new Trojans included a heavy emphasis on replenishing the defense, especially on the defensive line and in the secondary. On the offensive side of the ball, the highest percentage of newcomers will play on the offensive line.
"With what we signed today, and the players we signed at mid-year, I feel like we filled some needs," Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney said. "We signed some young players with ability. Now, we have to see if they can all get here and put their shoulders to the plow and go to work.
"We have a process that we go through here that has proven to be successful for us, and we certainly don't need to change it. Now, when they get here, they all have to go to class and do all of the things that it takes to be a successful student-athlete 365 days a year. That is what it takes."
As is normally the case, the Trojans focused their recruiting on their base areas of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Those three states produced 23 of the 28 signees on Wednesday, joining one player each from Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Only five of the new additions come to Troy from junior colleges.
The new class includes 10 defensive linemen, six defensive backs, four offensive linemen, three receivers, two running backs and two players categorized as athletes.
In addition to the new players signed on Wednesday, the Trojans also added 12 players to the roster at the start of the fall semester. Those players included seven mid-term junior college signees and five players who signed last February, but waited to enroll as full-time students in January.
Of those players already enrolled at Troy, there are four offensive linemen, three receivers, two defensive linemen, a linebacker and a quarterback. That group included three players each from Alabama, Mississippi and Florida and one each from Georgia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
The Trojans will open spring practice with a roster of 120 players, including 50 returning letter winners, on March 18. The squad will hold scrimmages on March 21, 28 and April 3.
The Troy football program is slated to open the 2009 season in search of a fourth consecutive Sun Belt Conference title on Thursday night, September 3, at Bowling Green, Ohio, against the Falcons of Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference. Troy is also slated to face defending BCS National Champion Florida on Sept. 12 before opening at home against intra-state foe UAB on Sept. 19.
2009 Troy University Football Signees
2009 Troy University Football Signee Bio Sketches
Vinson Bass - DT
Ellenwood, Ga. - Cedar Grove HS
Had 97 tackles as a junior and was named honorable mention All-State. Rivals.com ranks him as the 79th best defensive tackle prospect in the nation and the 73rd best prospect from Georgia. Also had offers from Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, USF and UCF.
Dominique Bonman - ATH
Sulligent, Ala. - Sulligent HS
Bonman finished his senior season with 50 receptions for 1,085 yards and 17 touchdowns, helping lead Sulligent High School to the Class 2A state championship game. Bonman made the AWSA All-State team after his senior season.
Daymond Brinson - DE
St. Petersburg, Fla. - Gibbs HS
Was named second team All-Pinellas County and played in the Pinellas County All-Star game, helping lead the South squad to an easy 48-20 victory. Brinson did not start playing football until his senior season. He chose Troy over UAB.
John Clark - DE
Oxford, Ala. - Oxford HS
As a senior Clark posted 30 tackles with 29 assists, five pass breakups and seven sacks. He was also named defensive player of the week following Oxford's win over Gadsden City. During his junior season, Clark recorded 20 solo tackles, eight assisted tackles and two sacks. He chose Troy over UAB, Alabama and Auburn.
Tony Gray - S
Enterprise, Ala. - Enterprise HS
Played quarterback at Enterprise High School, helping lead the Wildcats to the AHSAA class 6A playoffs all four years he was there. Gray was named to the preseason All-Wiregrass team by Alabamafb.com. He also plays basketball. Was an honorable mention to the All-Super 12 team by the Dothan Eagle.
Antonio Harper - DE
Memphis, Tenn - Melrose HS - Hargrave Military Academy (VA)
Originally signed with Miami in 2007 out of Melrose High School in Memphis before attending Hargrave Military Academy. Finished his junior season with 95 tackles, three interceptions and five sacks. Played linebacker at both Hargrave and during high school.
Sam Haskins - WR
Fort Lee, Va. - Dinwiddie County HS
Haskins had 35 receptions for 490 yards and five touchdowns his senior season. Played in an offensive system based on the Troy offense. Was effective on special teams, getting a few blocked punts during his high school career. He also had offers from Marshall, Delaware, Towson State and Morgan State.
Dezman Ivory - ATH
Adamsville, Ala. - Minor HS
Caught 54 passes for 601 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 184 carries for 1,118 yards and 13 touchdowns. He helped Minor High School turn a 2007 record of 2-8 into a 9-3 record in 2008. Ivory was a 6A All-State performer and was named Birmingham News West Player of the Year.
Cody Jenkins - OL
Opelika, Ala. - Beauregard HS
Played primarily on the offensive line throughout his career but played several games at defensive tackle during his senior season, notching four tackles in three games there. Received interest from several schools about permanently switching to the other side of the ball. Helped lead his team to a 6-4 record his senior season. Also had offers from Louisiana Tech and Marshall.
Jamel Johnson - WR
Montgomery, Ala. - Carver HS
Johnson finished his senior season with 64 catches for 1088 yards and 10 touchdowns. Was named to the Montgomery Advertiser Class 5A/6A All-Metro First Team. Johnson also named an ASWA Player of the Week. Johnson helped his team reach the class 5A semi-finals.
Eugene Kinlaw - DT
Homerville, Ga. - Clinch County HS - Hutchinson CC
Originally signed with Troy in 2007 out of Clinch County. Was named the NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Helped lead Hutchinson Community College to a No. 19 national ranking at the end of the season. Recorded 45 tackles for a loss and had 11 sacks last year. He is considered a four star recruit by Rivals.com and the 5th best JUCO prospect in the nation. Was a high school teammate of current Troy star linebacker Boris Lee.
Jonathan Massaquoi - DE
Lawrenceville, Ga. - Central Gwinett HS - Butler County CC
Registered 87 tackles and nine sacks as a senior at Central Gwinnett High School. Helped lead Butler County Community College to the NJCAA national title in 2008. During his time at Butler County, Massaquoi recorded 96 tackles, including 19 for a loss, while also recording 18 sacks. He was an honorable mention NJCAA All-American in 2008.
Caleb Massey - S
Sulligent, Ala. - Sulligent HS
Recorded 82 tackles and 10 interceptions his senior year. Also played quarterback his senior season, completed 126-of-245 pass attempts for 2,592 yards and 34 touchdowns with six interceptions. Rushed for 1,096 yards on 144 attempts and 17 touchdowns. Was named a member of the 2008 Reebok Alabama Football Phenom team. During his junior year, had 13 interceptions. During his senior season, led Sulligent to the Class 2A state championship game. Was named to ASWA Super 12 team as well as the ASWA All-State team as an athlete in 2008. He finished fourth in state Mr. Football voting. He also considered offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State and was offered a basketball scholarship from UAB.
Nathan Newland - OL
Frankfurt, Ky. - Franklin County HS - Hutchinson CC
Originally signed with Troy in 2007 out of Franklin County High School. Started every game at tackle during his first season at Hutchinson Community College and helped the Blue Dragons finish 2008 ranked #19 in the nation.
Anthony Payne - DT
Leroy, Ala. - Leroy HS
Was a finalist for ASWA Mr. Football and ASWA Lineman of the Year awards in 2008. Was named All-State as a defensive lineman. Helped lead Leroy to three straight AHSAA Class 2A state championships. Is a high school teammate of fellow incoming recruit Aaron Williams. He also played basketball at Leroy High School.
Sergio Perez - CB
Mayo, Fla. - Lafayette County HS
Was and honorable mention All-State selection. Helped lead his team to state semi-finals during junior season. Also played running back.
Greg Pratt - RB
Naples, Fla. - Naples HS
During his senior season, Pratt rushed for 1,040 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. Also had 17 catches for 277 yards and three scores in his final season. Pratt rushed for more than 1,600 yard and 20 touchdowns in his junior season, helping lead Naples High School to a state championship. During his sophomore year, Pratt rushed for more than 1,400 yards, and 17 touchdowns, on 9.7 yards per carry. He scored four touchdowns in the Rotary Club Collier County All-Star Football Classic his senior year. The touchdowns came on runs of 50 and 97 yards and receptions of 40 and 69 yards. He is the 25th ranked all-purpose back in the nation according to Scout.com. Following his junior season he was second team all-state and Collier County Offensive Player of the Year. As a senior he was first team all-county and third team all-state. He also had offers from Cincinnati, Colorado State, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and Middle Tennessee.
Dontavious Pyron - DT
Tampa, Fla. - Chamberlain HS
Was All-Sun Coast and Hillsborough first team defensive line in 2007 and 2008. Finished with 68 tackles and three sacks his senior season while helping lead his team to the class 5A region final. Is considered the 34th best defensive tackle in the nation according to Rivals and the 45th best defensive tackle according to ESPN. Pyron was voted the 72nd best player in Florida according to rivals. Was second team All-State as a junior. Received interest from Miami, FSU and Florida.
Mike Robinson - S
Fairfield, Ala. - Fairfield HS
Played wide receiver at Fairfield, helping lead his team to the second round of the Alabama 5A state playoffs as a senior.
Willard Ross - S
Hollandale, Miss. - Simmons HS - Mississippi Delta CC
Helped lead Hollandale-Simmons HS to the 2005 state championship game. Played quarterback and safety in high school and had more than 1,200 yards of total offense. Recorded 49 tackles, eight interceptions, 16 pass deflections and two fumble recoveries. Had interest from Alabama, Memphis, Mississippi State, Mississippi and Southern Miss.
Jeremy Simmons - OL
Ashland, Ala. - Clay County HS
Was an ASWA Class 2A All-State honorable mention after senior season and an ASWA Class 3A All-State honorable mention following his junior season. Was named to the Rivals Alabama Postseason Top 40 team and was one of only two offensive line prospects to make the list. Also received interest from Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and UAB.
Shawn Southward - RB
Florence, Ala. - Florence HS
Southward rushed for 1,736 yards and 28 touchdowns his junior season. He was named All-Area, All-Region, and honorable mention All-State in 2007. Southward played in the 2008 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic running for 57 yards and two touchdowns. According to Scout.com, he is ranked as the 24th best all-purpose back in the nation. He also received offers from Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and South Alabama.
Jay Stansberry - OL
Bremen, Ga. - Bremen HS
Played tight end and linebacker in high school and finished his senior season with 64 tackles and two sacks. Stansberry was named a first team All-State player by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and by the state coaches. He was also named a "Top 21" player by Georgia High School Football Magazine. He was a three-year starter both ways and helped lead Bremen to the third round of the Georgia 1A State Playoffs. Is projected as an offensive lineman for Troy but could potentially play an assortment of positions, including tight end, defensive end, defensive tackle, or linebacker. Stansberry played in the GACA All Star game and was voted as team captain as a senior and also served as team captain for the GACA All-Star game.
Shermane Teart - DT
Orlando, Fla. - Edgewater HS
Had 24 tackles his senior season and 44 tackles his junior season. Teart was honorable mention All-State and was named Central Florida Metro All-Conference. He played on both offensive and defensive lines. Sophomore year his team played for state championship. Teart also had interest from Western Michigan.
Barry Valcin - CB
Port Arthur, Texas - Port Arthur Memorial HS - Coffeyville CC
Originally signed with Baylor but committed to LSU in 2007 out of Port Arthur Memorial High School. Was and honorable mention pick for the Jayhawk Conference All-Conference team. Had five pass break ups and one interception in his only season at Coffeyville Community College.
Bradley Wallace - S
West Palm Beach, Fla. - Dwyer HS
Wallace was named first team all-state as both a junior and senior. ESPN ranked him as the 101st best athlete in the nation. Played quarterback and safety in high school. Threw for 1,235 yards and 13 touchdowns as senior while leading Dwyer to the Florida 4A state semifinals. Recorded 50 tackles and 12 tackles for a loss in 2007. As a junior, he threw for 864 yards and eight touchdowns, while adding 664 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. He also had offers from Indiana, Iowa State, Mississippi State, Colorado State, Florida Atlantic, Virginia, Middle Tennessee and ULL.
Aaron Williams - DT
Leroy, Ala. - Leroy HS
Played offensive tackle and defensive end for Leroy. Helped lead Leroy to three straight AHSAA Class 2A state championships. Was a high school teammate of fellow Troy recruit Anthony Payne. Was named to the ASWA All-State team as a senior at offensive tackle. Also had an offer from Boise State.
Anthony Williams - WR
Tampa, Fla. - Chamberlain HS
Williams hauled in 40 catches for 927 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, averaging more than 20 yards per catch. Helped lead Chamberlain High School to the third round of the Florida Class 5A state playoffs during his senior year. Played in the FACA North-South All Star game. Was named first team All-Sun Coast. During his junior season, Williams had 40 catches for 480 yards and four touchdowns. ESPN ranked him as the 53rd receiver in the country, while Rivals ranked him as the 81st best wideout in the country. Also had offers from Indiana, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Georgia, Rutgers, Ball State, UCF and Marshall.
Mid-Term Signees Bio Sketches
Jimmie Arnold -- OL
Belle Glade, Fla./Day High School
Was a two-year starter for Pete Walker at Glades Day ... Was named first-team All-State, All-District and All-Area as a senior ... Was a member of the 2006 1A state championship team ... As a senior, had 28 tackles and two sacks ... Had the game-winning sack against rival Kings Academy in 2007 ... Was second team All-State as a junior and was named to the Outback Bowl All-Star Game ... Was names as the Best Lineman ... Was twice a first team All-Palm Beach County selection ... Was also twice named All-District and All-Area ... Played in the Florida North-South All-Star game as well as the Palm Beach County All-Star game ... Full name is Jimmie Allen Arnold II ... Was born on August 2, 1990 ... Is the son of Kathryn and Jimmie Arnold ... Has one sister, Jayme Alston (25) ... His uncle, Fred Hager, played college football at Kentucky Wesleyan.
James Brown -- OL
Magnolia, Miss./Amite County High School/SW Mississippi CC
Was a 2005 Mississippi state weightlifting champion ... Named a second team All-Mississippi junior college performer following his sophomore season at SW Mississippi Community College ... Was born on November 30, 1988 ... Had a Class 2A high of 108 pancakes as a junior in high school ... Was named Amite County's Rookie of the Year as a ninth grader, Defensive Player of the Year (103 tackles and 14 sacks) as a 10th grader, and was a two-time All-State selection in Class 2A ... Was considered to be one of the top offensive line prospects in Mississippi as a senior.
Jason Bruce -- WR
Natchez, Miss./Natchez High School/Copiah-Lincoln CC
Was recruited to junior college as a quarterback, but move to wide receiver after signing ... Originally signed with Alcorn State out of high school ... Was named to the NJCAA All-Region XXIII team for 2008 ... Posted state-best 53 catches, 729 yards (13.8 average) and seven touchdowns as a sophomore ... Earned first team All-State honors in 2008 ... Set school records with 13 receptions for 219 yards and three touchdowns against Mississippi Gulf Coast CC ... As a junior in high school, he passed for more than 1,000 yards and rushed for more than 850 yards and was named the team's offensive MVP and made the all-metro first team ... As a senior he completed 99 of 198 passes for 1,220 yards and 12 touchdowns ... He also rushed for 816 yards and 13 touchdowns on 127 carries.
Ray Carter -- OL
Ambler, Pa./Wissahickon HS/Garden City CC
Originally signed with Temple University out of Wissahickon High School ... Was selected first team All-Jayhawk Conference as a sophomore, in his first season playing offensive line ... Played defensive line in high school and his first season of junior college ball before moving to the offensive line.
Emmanuel Dudley -- DL
Columbus, Ga./ Shaw HS/ NE Mississippi CC
Was named a First team All-Mississippi junior college performer following his sophomore season at NE Mississippi Community College ... Was also named to the All-Region XXIII team ... Had 22 tackles in nine games as a freshman and earned NJCAA Preseason All-America honors in 2008 ... Was a Georgia Sports Writers Association All-State pick in 3A as a senior ... Played in the Georgia North-South All-star game.
Gavin Ellis - WR/TE
Cullman, Ala./Cullman High School
Played four years for coach Mark Britton ... As a senior, was named first team All-State, All-Area, and All-District ... Senior year, he recorded 82 catches for 1,263 yards (both led the state) and scored 16 touchdowns (second in the state) ... Lead the state in receptions in a single game with 15 ... Was selected to the AHSAA North-South All-Star game ... Was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association 5A All-State team ... Was a Birmingham News Super Senior Best of the Rest selection ... Set a school record for receiving yards in a season ... Biggest offensive game came against Hartselle when he had 165 yards and three touchdowns ... Also lettered in basketball ... Ranks 9th in receiving yards in a season, 11th in single season receptions and 6th in receptions in a single game in AHSAA history ... Was selected as a team captain in both football and basketball ... Was a member of the FCA and the FFA ... Full name is Gavin Folsom Ellis, Jr. ... Was born on February 15, 1990 ... Is the son of Nancy and Gavin Ellis Sr. ... Has one brother, Trawick (16) ... Is undecided on a major.
Riley Flowers -- DL
Geneva, Ala./ Geneva HS/ Jones County CC
Flowers was named a first team All-Mississippi junior college performer following his sophomore season at Jones County Junior College ... Saw action in all 11 games as a freshman on the defensive front ... Full name is Riley Derz Flowers ... Born Jan. 1, 1987 ... Is the son of Ruth Flowers.
Tyler Graves -- OL
Sumrall, Miss./ Sumrall HS/ Pearl River CC
Graves was named a First team All-Mississippi junior college performer following his sophomore season at Pearl River Community College. He redshirted the 2006 season at Florida State. As a high school senior was the No.1-ranked guard prospect in the state of Mississippi. He was a PrepStar Magazine preseason all-region selection in 2005 after an outstanding junior season that saw him win his district's Most Valuable Player award.
Felton Payton -- WR
Ft. Walton Beach, Fla./Ft. Walton Beach High School
Was a three-year letter winner for coach Mike Owens ... Was named to the Northwest Florida Daily News All-Area team after making 30 receptions for 350 yards and four touchdowns during his senior season ... Was nominated to play in the Pensacola Sports Association All-Star game and was voted team captain and won the Leadership Award ... Also lettered in basketball and track ... Full name is Felton Earl Payton ... Was born on July 1, 1990 ... Is the son of Fleton and Lisa Payton and step-son of Martha Payton ... Has two brothers, Marc Carter (24) and Felton Payton (5), and two sisters, Eboni Payton (15) and Brianna Coleman (12) ... Is undecided on a major.
DeMarcus Robertson -- DB
Sunrise, Fla./Piper High School/Garden City (KS) CC/Massachusetts
Racked up four interceptions, 12 pass break-ups, 44 tackles, a blocked punt, and two safeties as a sophomore for Garden City ... Originally signed with Rutgers out of high school ... Played in 12 games as a true freshman at UMass, seeing action in the secondary and on special teams ... Made seven total tackles, two solo and five assists ... Was clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash ... Honored as Second Team All-County by Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel ... Played in the North-South Broward County All-Star Game as well as the Broward-Dade County All-Star Game ... Racked up 54 tackles in eight games as a senior ... Had nine pass break-ups, one interceptions, three tackles for loss ... As a return man, had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and one punt return for a TD ... Full name is DeMarcus LeVone Roberston ... Was born on July 6, 1988, in Hollywood, Fla. ... Is the son of Victor and Lisperin Robertson ... Brother of Christian, Jabareia and Imani ... Cousin of former Michigan State and Houston Oiler star running back Lorenzo White ... Uncle Tim Golden played for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in the 1980s.
Corey Robinson -- QB
Paducah, Ky./ Lone Oak High School
Played four season for Jack Haskins ... Was named Mr. Football in Kentucky following a record-setting senior season ... Set a national record with 91 touchdown passes while completing 383-of 520 passes with only four interceptions as a senior ... Piled up 5,872 yards passing during his final season ... Over three years, he threw for 132 touchdowns and 9,271 yards ... Also holds state records for completion percentage career (63.7), completion percentage season (73.7), TD passes career (132), yards passing per game season (391.5), pass attempts career (962), pass attempts season (520), yards passing career (9,271) and yards passing season (5,872) ... In addition to being named Mr. Football, Robinson was named the Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year, to the Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team and the EA Sports and Prep Nation 101 All-America team ... Lettered in baseball and basketball in prep career ... Full name is Corey Lee Robinson ... Was born on March 29, 1990 ... Is the son of Dawn Boyd and Kenny Robinson ... Is undecided on a major.
Johnny Thompson -- LB
Valley, Ala./Valley High School
Played four seasons at Valley HS ... Was a first team All-State selection as a senior and was honorable mention as a junior ... Was named one of the top 50 players in the state of Alabama ... Was named defensive player of the year ... As a senior, had 167 tackles and seven sacks ... Forced four fumbles and had three interceptions ... Full name is Johnny Tyrone Thompson ... Was born on May 5, 1990 ... Is the son of Johnny and Vernita Thompson ... Has three sisters - Lavonte (22), Janita (19) and Tyra (12) ... Is undecided on a major.