If you just wanted to count what was on campus, Alabama State’s 2013 signing class would already be considered a success.
The Hornets have a dozen players on campus from junior college and Football Bowl Subdivision schools and 10 of them count in this class. Quarterbacks Arsenio Favor (Southern Miss) and Sam Gibson (Arkansas State), defensive linemen Jafar Mann (Florida) and Imarjaye Albury (West Virginia), offensive linemen Robert Roquemore (Georgia Military), Anthony Jacob (Central Florida) and Demechery Higgingbottom (Copiah-Lincoln Community College), cornerbacks Dionte Ponder (Troy) and Ka’Ra Stewart (Missouri) and wide receiver Chaz Sampson (North Texas) are the basis for a good recruiting class that can make an immediate impact on the Hornets’ football team.
You can throw in two more receivers as well, but neither Troy transfer Jamel Johnson nor Arkansas State transfer Earl Lucas count against this signing class just yet. Both are in school trying to restore academic eligibility and will be put on scholarship at some time in the future based on available scholarships when they are cleared to play.
That comes close to filling up the Hornets’ available scholarships after replacing two players who transferred, two others that are no longer part of the program and 14 seniors.
Still, head coach Reggie Barlow hopes to sign a full class (25) today, counting the 10 already on scholarship.
“We’ll probably get about 15,” Barlow said. “Some of these kids like to keep you in suspense. It’s between us and a couple of other folks, but we’ve got a lot of confirmation from a lot of guys at all the positions we actually wanted.”
One (Edgewood Academy’s Rod Boykin) announced the other day, but Barlow wants to avoid publicizing the other names, simply because mid-major Football Bowl Subdivision programs have a bad habit of raiding Football Championship Subdivision programs if they find themselves in need of a certain position player in the final days of recruiting.
If Barlow signs 15, he’ll be a half-dozen or so players over the limit.
“The numbers always seem to work themselves out,” Barlow said last week. “It’s hard to turn away good players. We’re still waiting on a couple of commitments from the linebacker position and the safety position. And there’s one defensive end where we’re waiting on a decision from the kid.
“Initially, we were talking about 15 guys. They’ll always be a couple of them that may not (academically) qualify. We look at some of the guys’ grades and know it’s going to be close.”
Barlow added that there are “about four that can go either way (academically). They have to turn it up in the spring and they have a couple of more times to take the (ACT) test.”
Regardless, last year’s class was arguably the best in school history and this year’s group is even better, raising the expectations higher for a group that has come agonizingly close to having a breakout season but falling short in each of the last two seasons.
And while some Hornet fans point to the coaching staff, finding some blame with a group that has tied for the Southwestern Athletic Conference East Division title in each of the last three years, it certainly beats the alternative.