By Idris Garcia, Chattanooga, Tenn.— The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team wrapped up one the best signing classes in program history on National Signing Day Feb. 6.
With his sixth recruiting class, head coach Russ Huesman landed four three-star prospects, a first during his tenure at UTC.
“The job that our coaching staff did this year was unbelievable,” Huesman said. “There were no egos involved. Every weekend everybody did everything they needed to do to make these guys feel great about Chattanooga and Chattanooga football.”
The Mocs managed to acquire all 19 players to whom they sent out letters of intent, twelve of which sport all-state credentials, and 10 with offers from FBS schools.
According to 247sports.com, UTC’s signing class tops the FCS and even surpasses several FBS programs.
“We sent out letters of intent to 19 players and got all 19 back” Huesman said. “It’s always a nerve-wracking time when you go through that process. We had to fight some people off the last week to hang on to some of these guys, but it’s a testament to them. They gave us their word they were coming; they were going to sign and hung in there with us.”
The prominent recruiting class includes five local players—cornerback C.J. Fritz (McCallie), tight end Bailey Lenoir (East Hamilton), defensive tackle Isaiah Mack (Northwest Whitfield), long snapper Emory Norred (Baylor) and offensive lineman Cam Walker (McCallie). Fritz, Lenoir, Mack and Walker were all a part of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Dynamite Dozen.
Huesman’s staff built a balanced class featuring 10 offensive players, eight defensive players and one specialist. Huesman said the focus was not solely on talent this time around.
“We hit on all the needs we had and at every position,” Huesman said. “And we went after character guys this year, so we feel real good about the type of kids that are coming into the program. They all have good leadership qualities and have solid grades.”
The Mocs’ signing class was secured by noon on Signing Day—the last two being three-star recruits Dale Warren, a linebacker from Stone Mountain, Ga., and Penny Smith a quarterback and receiver from Knoxville.
Huesman said his latest recruiting class, all from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, are primed to make a big impact on the future of Chattanooga football.
“We’ll see when they all get here who can help us right away,” Huesman said. “I always tell kids that they’re promised an opportunity when they come here but nobody is promised a job. It’s up to them to work their way onto the field. If they can play they’ll play. If they aren’t ready yet, we’ll redshirt them and get them ready. But I believe this is a class that’s going to help us win a lot of games.”