New Red Wolves join the Pack

By Dylan Travis
On February 6, 2014

The Red Wolf family grew on Wednesday when 39 high school athletes signed with Arkansas State across five different sports. Fax machines sprang to life early in the morning as athletes sent in their commitments to join the pack and howl with the best.

Football

A-State’s head football coach Blake Anderson announced Wednesday that 25 individuals signed the dotted line and committed to playing football for the Red Wolves of A-State.

In recent years, A-State has had tremendous success acquiring talent, which has led to three consecutive Sun Belt conference championships. “Overall, in this class we really wanted to target as much speed as possible in every position,” Anderson said. “I feel like we did a good job of that.”

This class will feature 20 athletes signing from the high school level, four junior college transfers and one FBS transfer to round out the class of 25.

Anderson said he was well pleased with the outcome of the recruiting season even though it was a short recruiting window for the first year coach.

“Really, to be able to hold it together like we did, to get everybody and get those papers signed this morning and with only a few casualties was great. We really thought we did well and we are excited about the class,” he said.

Anderson underlined the needs of the team, stating that defense needed some major improvement.

Of the 25 commitments, 15 were on the defensive side of the ball: seven defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs.

Four of the corner back commitments ranked in the top 100 in the nation at their positions: D.J. Armstead, Charles Gaskins, Blaise Taylor (son of new coach Trooper Taylor) and Nehemiah Wagner. The final defensive back commitment at safety is Charles Grant. “Again, corner backs were a tremendous concern,” Anderson said. “But to get four quality corner backs is a big deal.”

The commitments on the defensive line are Charles Alexander, Marcus Hudson, Chuks Ota, Kyle Strickland, E.J. Sutton, Caleb Caston and Jarrod Chandler.

The linebackers are Carderious Dean, Khari Lain, and A.J. Turner (transfer from the University of Arkansas).

On the offensive side of the ball, Anderson sought to replenish the needs at offensive line and provide more depth at the running back and receiver positions.

The linemen pick-ups are Christian Beard, Jhamahl Bell, Kyle Harris (former South Carolina player) and Daniel Keith.

For the running backs, the commits are Brandon Byner, Terrance Hollingsworth and Daryl Rollins-Davis.

Black Mack and Tyler Trosin (former Oregon State player) are the receiver commitments and James Tabary is the lone Quarterback commitment.

“I’m very, very happy with the class,” Anderson said. “We pulled together what I consider a really solid class. You really couldn’t ask for it to get any better.”

Women’s Soccer

The women’s soccer team also shared in the success of signing day. Head coach Tafadzwa Ziyenge and his staff had eight athletes sign to spend their college years as Red Wolves.

After a 10-7-3 season that featured a trip to the Sun Belt conference semifinal, A-State women’s soccer looked to build off their momentum by acquiring four defenders, two goalkeepers and two midfielders. Replacing the solid crew from last season, Jenna Vaught, Nina Simon, Brianna Williams and Lauren Crimi will enter A-State as defenders.

Jenna Vaught is from St. Louis, Mo. and competed nationally as a club member of SLSG-Elite squad, which she went to the National Championships with in 2013.

Nina Simon, also of St. Louis, Mo., was a teammate of Jenna Vaught on their club sports team. Her efforts in high school made her one of the top players in the conference, earning her two all-conference nominations.

Brianna Williams is a transfer from the College of Southern Maryland. Her efforts there led the team to a 14-0 record and a district-l championship. She is an exemplary athlete whose skills have been proven at the collegiate level.

Lastly, Lauren Crimi is a speedy player from Lake Tapps, Wash. She was her high school MVP and led her team in scoring and assists.

Alexis Philippe and Sara Wicks are the two goalkeeper commitment.

Alexis Philippe was also a team member of Nina Simon and Jenna Vaught. She is a solid goalkeeper that has competed nationally, and was a participant with the Olympic Development Program. Sara Wicks is a player from Canada that holds several recognitions and has had tremendous success in goal. 12

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