The Chadron State College football program received 37 National Letters of Intent from prospective student-athletes last week when the high school signing period for NCAA Division II football began.
CSC Head Coach Jay Long said he is excited about the 2020 recruiting class.
"We addressed many of our needs,” Long said. “There is good balance of kids in the class. A few who may be able to play right away and others who will develop with the help of a redshirt year. We had good success landing some big linemen that we wanted.”
Eight of the signees are at least 6-foot, 245 pounds.
The new class consists of 18 who are projected to play offense, 17 who are likely to play defense, a placekicker and an all-around athlete. Four are transfers who previously played in college; the others are high school seniors.
These numbers do not include the 11 transfers who enrolled at the start of the second semester, are involved in the winter conditioning program and will participate in spring ball.
Seven of the recruits are from Nebraska, starting with Cooper Heusman of Chadron, who is expected to continue CSC's tradition of having outstanding tight ends. His high school teammate, lineman Cooper Wild, also will be joining the Eagles as a walk-on, which through the years has produced many standouts.
Another local product is Sioux County's Tommy Watson, a six-man first-team all-state quarterback for the Warriors. He’s classified as the all-around athlete. Watson ran for 1,435 yards and 31 touchdowns and threw for 1,244 yards and 21 TDs last fall.
One of the state's most highly-regarded quarterbacks, Clayton Murphy of Ogallala, is joining the Eagles. He threw for 24 touchdowns and ran for 28 last fall. Other signees include two of those big linemen the CSC coaches were seeking, Kien Martin (6-1, 280) of Overton and Chi Onate (6-4, 267) of Gibbon,
Seven newcomers are from Wyoming.
They include a quarterback-receiver combo from Thunder Basin High in Gillette. Quarterback Mason Hamilton is a two-time Class 4A all-stater who announced his decision to accept the Eagles’ offer in October. He threw for 31 touchdowns and just six interceptions as a junior. His numbers weren’t quite as good this past season, when the offensive line was young and the team’s leading running back was injured. He’s glad that Blaine Allen, his leading pass target, is coming to CSC with him.
The other Wyoming recruits include a small, but speedy running back from Jackson Hole. Jeydon Cox, 5-8, 160, rushed for 2,257 yards as a junior and 2,038 as a senior. Both Hamilton and Cox were two-time Casper Star-Tribune Super 25 selections. Also making that select list this year was Dax Yeradi of Wright. He’s a three-time Class 1A all-state choice, and is familiar with Chadron. His grandparents include Tom and Linda Yeradi, and his father, Larry, intercepted eight passes to set the Chadron High record as a senior in 1983.
Like Yeradi, Dawson Hatch of Buffalo is projected to be a defensive back for the Eagles after
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Charles Beaudrie of Cody and Dean Shaw of the state champion 3A Star Valley team round out the Cowboy State is recruits.
A whopping 17 of this year's class hail from Colorado.
Javian Byrd is a junior defensive back transfer from Golden West College in California, who originally enrolled at CSU-Pueblo. He threw for more than 4,000 yards as a three-time all-conference quarterback at George Washington High in Denver.
The other 16 are high school recruits.
Offensive linemen Tyler Carpenter of Broomfield High and Sy Spitz of Lamar are both first team all-state selections, while defensive lineman Carson Berghuis of Wray and kicker Alberto Perez of Kersey were second-teamers.
All-state honorable mention went to tight end Peter Krohn of Rocky Mountain High in Fort Collins, Hunter O'Connor of Legacy High in Broomfield and receiver Grant Swenson, a teammate of Carpenter's. A total of six new Eagles are from Broomfield this year, including receiver River Juarez of Broomfield High and linebacker Adam Lynch of Legacy.
Rounding out the Coloradans are defensive linemen Jakob Chirico of Highlands Ranch; O linemen Josh Gade of Northglenn, Ty Gish of Parker and Jacob Nasalrod of Grandview High in Aurora; linebackers Xavier Harrell of Centennial and Tate Satterfield of Poudre High in Fort Collins; and defensive back Creighton Trembly of Skyline High in Longmont.
Three of the four Californians in the signing class are transfers.
Matthew Bunnel, originally from San Juan Capistrano, will transfer from Saddleback College. He projects as an outside linebacker or defensive end at 6-3, 250 pounds.
Jonathan Gonzalez, who started at both defensive back and receiver at Monterey Peninsula College, is likely to be a cornerback for the Eagles. That’s also where freshman Ron McFoy of Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley is apt to play.
Jalen Starks was listed as a 6-0, 265-pound fullback on the UCLA roster in 2017, when he carried 10 times for 63 yards against Arizona and also caught a pass that went for 50 yards versus Memphis. He’s now about 250, but will still be the largest running back in CSC annals if he stays at that position. Starks is from Van Nuys and attended the same high school as former CSC offensive guard Adam Fuselier.
Another running back prospect is Jahon Moore, 5-10, 210, who averaged eight yards a carry as one of at least a half dozen players who shared those duties at Hillside High in New Jersey. Their team finished 13-0 for the third straight season last fall.
The lone South Dakota signee this year is Nick Lembke, a scrappy linebacker out of Rapid City's St. Thomas More High.
The remaining signees include defensive lineman Jamar Jackson of Greenville, Ala., and tight end Lloyd Love of Tucson, Ariz.
Long is a great believer in giving many eager prospects a chance to play college football. That means the freshman roster will likely be expanded when practice begins in August.