By Jason McDaniel, Assistant Sports Editor —
The 2019 Mocs football recruiting class, and Head Coach Rusty Wright’s first with UTC, were welcomed to the organization on Wednesday.
The new Mocs include 15 student-athletes who were signed to National Letters of Intent. The full class includes two signings from December and a mid-year transfer to the Mocs.
“We’re really pleased with how it ended up,” said Wright. “I think our staff did a great job in basically 15 days. We had to get guys on campus and start building relationships quickly and we were able to do that.”
The group includes five recruits with at least a two-star rating. The Mocs signed two quarterbacks, Drayton Arnold, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Gio Richardson, Wellington, Fla., each with a three-star rating. Arnold (5-11, 205) has two years remaining in his eligibility after his transfer from Old Dominion. Richardson (6’1”, 200) is a graduate and exceptional signal caller out of Dwyer High School.
Two-star standouts that signed for the Mocs all will play on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Ailym Ford, Florence, S.C., receiver Avery Williams, Brentwood, Tenn., and offensive lineman Brock Bethea, Pinson, Ala. will all look to create a positive impact for the Mocs. Ford (5’9”, 205) is a two-time all-state running back. He set the school record with 2,460 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns in his senior year. Williams (6’1”, 175) is a one-time all-state, two-time all-region receiver. Bethea (6’5”, 300) is an all-regional offensive lineman.
Other offensively-positioned signees include running backs Brandon Gregory, Venice Fla., and Lance Jackson, Norcross, Ga; offensive linemen Sam Hall, Logan, Ohio., and Cameron Perry, Byron, Ga.; and receiver Kanore McKinnon, Dillon, S.C.
McKinnon spent the last two seasons at Georgia Military College and is the lone junior college transfer in the class.
“I think we addressed some needs offensively as far as depth at running back and a little bit at wide receiver and offensive line,” said Wright.
Defensive additions include lineman Marlon Taylor, Brunswick, Ga.; linebackers Daniel Brent, Madison, Ala., Justin Sanders, Atlanta, Ga. and Tre’Von Stanford, Manchester, Ga.; and defensive back Kameron Brown, Mobile, Ala.
“Defensively, we had some issues on the second level at linebacker and in the secondary at some spots,” continued Wright. “We addressed those to a certain degree.”
This class also keeps up the team tradition of attracting outstanding students by tying a school-record with 10 signees with academic accolades previously held.
“We started out with a bunch of names and a bunch of guys,” said Wright. “After about a week and a half, we really focused in on a select few. We got those guys on campus and had an opportunity to be around them and develop some better relationships. Thankfully, we had some relationships with guys already that we were able to get here on campus.”
This class of new Mocs hopefully can attribute to success for the university both on and off the field. Wright has high hopes that the new Mocs, along with standouts in the previous seasons, can attribute to an excellent first season for a new head coach.