Navarro College signed a balanced recruiting class of 44 freshmen under new Head Coach Jim Gush last week.
Less than two weeks after taking over as the Bulldogs’ coach, Gush and his staff put together a group of signees that filled a lot of holes on defense, along an offensive line that lost five players who signed Division 1 and 2 letters of intent recently and several prolific running backs.
Navarro inked seven wide receivers and offensive linemen and five running backs but just one quarterback on a roster that has no one who has thrown a pass in college competition.
The Bulldogs also signed nine high schoolers to fill a huge void in the secondary, which lost a pair of All-Americans in safety Matt Wright (Southeast Louisiana) and cornerback Benjie Franklin (Texas A&M Commerce). Franklin is the reigning SWJCFC Defensive Player of the Year and Wright was among the NJCAA’s leaders in tackles in both seasons.
Navarro also added seven defensive linemen and six linebackers, the latter in hopes to find another Yohance Burnett, a Tulsa signee.
The Bulldogs also picked up five mid-term transfers, headed by Bowling Green redshirt freshman Jared Wyatt. The 6-3, 180-pound Wylie East grad totaled four catches during limited action at Bowling Green last season. Wyatt drew several Division I looks out of high school when he caught 145 passes for more than 2,900 yards and 42 touchdowns for Wylie East.
Michael Massarella will throw his helmet into the quarterback fray this spring after transferring from Houston Baptist following a stellar career at Houston Northwood Christian. As a prepster, Massarella (6-3, 220) passed for 7,887 yards and 91 touchdowns and rushed for 3,951 yards and 22 additional scores. Massarella completed 63.2 percent of his passes as a senior, throwing for 37 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.
The Bulldogs also added three defensive transfers to help fill holes on the Southwest Junior College Football Conference’s top defense from 2017.
Defensive backs Dominique Bradshaw (6-0, 175, Iowa Western) and Kyrese Knox (5-10, 180, Dodge City CC) and linebacker Michael McCain (6-0, 200, SFA), are enrolled and will participate in spring workouts. McCain was a two-sport star at Silsbee, headlining its defense for three years and as a key cog on the state championship basketball team in 2016.
The other new quarterback has quite the football lineage, great size and impressive numbers: Zadock Dinkelmann (6-5, 235). The Somerset native played for grandfather Sonny Detmer, the father of modern passing football in Texas. Dinkelmann is also the nephew of Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer and college star Koy Detmer. Dinkelmann, who was offered a scholarship as an eighth grader by LSU, completed 61.9 percent of his passes as a senior for 1,921 yards, 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Navarro lost the majority of its ground game to graduation, but added several very productive high school running backs.
Kiante Stoker (5-10, 210) of Spring Hill will be joining the Bulldogs in the fall after averaging more than 10 yards a carry while rushing for 1,266 yards and 22 TDs as a senior.
Alex Julian was the main cog in Austin McCallum’s run to the Class 5A semifinals in 2017. The 5-10, 165-pound back rushing for 2,469 yards and 30 TDs for McCallum.
The trio of Little Elm’s Corey Moses (5-9, 190), Neville, La.’s Demaine Riley (5-9, 175) and multi-tooled Earnest Crownover III (6-1, 200) of Grandview will build much-needed backfield depth.
Moses gained 1,800 yards and 20 TDs as a senior and Crownover was a beast for the Zebras for three years, accumulating 5,110 yards and 51 TDs on the ground and catching 61 passes for an addition 1,576 yards and 21 scores.
To block for those newbies, the Bulldogs needed an overhaul in offensive line that lost five regulars.
In a word, the seven signees are massive. The Bulldogs added Kris Estep (6-6, 300, McKinney), Kamron Brooks (6-4, 315, Converse Judson), Mark Evans (6-4, 290), Houston C.E. King), Jakob Rowland (6-7, 326, Austin Eaton), Eli Wall (6-3, 290, Fort Bend Travis), Ashton Savage, 6-8, 400), Paris) and Mike Fletcher (6-6, 305, Waco La Vega).
The wide receiving corps will get ample help this fall with eight talented players who had huge success on the high school level.
Gregory Clayton (5-11, 175, Lutcher, La.) had offers from Purdue, Iowa State and Tulane. In four varsity seasons, Clayton caught 185 passes for 2,552 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Wes McCollum (5-11, 189) may be one of the most dangerous deep threats on the roster in 2018 after averaging 26.3 yards per catch and 13 touchdowns at Argyle last season.
The Bulldogs dipped into enemy territory to pull out an outstanding receiver in Brenham’s Treveon Johnson (6-1, 180). An SMU commit, Johnson caught 38 passes and scored seven times, averaging 14.4 yards per catch.
Navarro restocked its defensive line with seven signees, headlined by the talented Tiren Forney (6-2, 240) of Nederland, Nakeveyion Vincent (5-11, 335) of Waco, Emmauel Sadala (6-0, 280) of Arlington Martin and Karl Andrews (6-4, 220) of Mesquite Poteet.
Andrews recorded 50 tackles, three sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries for Poteet as a senior. Forney was very productive for Nederland as a senior, registering 88 tackles, nine tackles for loss, seven sacks and 15 quarterback pressures. Sadala notched 53 tackles and a pair of sacks as a senior. Stewart had 56 tackles, three sacks and tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and forced three fumbles for Boyd.
The new linebacking crew will include an athletic group that includes Garrion Fuller (6-2, 230) of Bishop Lynch, Imioan James (6-1, 200) of Mansfield, Jacoby Allen (6-1, 230) of North Shore, Roger Wells (6-3, 210) of Houston Westbury and Roy Goins (6-1, 195) of Little Elm.
James had 71 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks and caused two fumbles as a senior. Fuller had 62 tackles and two sacks in 2017.
The secondary will be filled with nine new freshmen, including Spring’s Paul Smith, Eryk Preston of Brenham, D’Uantrick Savala of Dallas Carter, Brian Mathis of Dallas Spruce, Jrake Polk of Richardson and Derrashio ‘Dez’ Bridgeford of Mesquite Poteet.
Mathis picked off eight passes and had 68 tackles as a senior for Spruce. Preston was a mainstay for the Cubs with 70 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks.