Troy football added 17 new Trojan student-athletes on Signing Day, Wednesday, Feb. 4. Five players enrolled in the spring semester, making a total signing class of 22 athletes for head coach Neal Brown’s first season.
“I thought our staff did a tremendous job with only about six weeks to work and a big chunk of that coming during a dead period,” Brown said.
Out of that signing class, 14 players will play defensive positions while the other eight will be offense. Nine of the players are from Alabama and five more come from Georgia. Other players are from Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana.
“I’m really proud of the work those guys put in,” Brown said. “Looking at the board, we put an emphasis on length and I think we were able to do that. From an offensive standpoint, we put a huge emphasis on the offensive line and defensively wanted to get as many long and athletic bodies as we possibly could.”
The students who are already enrolled at Troy are all transfers – except for freshman quarterback Gardener Minshew from Brandon High School. Minshew threw 31 touchdowns and passed for 3,541 yards during his senior year.
Junior linebacker William Lloyd played at East Mississippi Community College and helped his team go to back-to-back NJCAA National Championships in 2013 and 2014. He recorded 72 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Justin Lucas, another junior linebacker from East Mississippi, earned all-state honors after making 85 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss during his sophomore year.
Transferring from Coffeyville Community College, junior cornerback Jalen Rountree finished his season with 48 tackles, half a sack and an interception.
Former UAB player, senior cornerback LaMarcus Farmer will finish out his college career at Troy. In 2012, he had four tackles for loss and made 50 stops. During his sophomore year, Farmer had 20 solo tackles. Last season he finished with two interceptions, 25 tackles and three pass break ups.
Offensively, Troy was able to find four offensive linemen including James Peach, Zach Branner, Kirk Kelley and Damien Kemp. Kemp has a twin brother, Demone Kemp, who also signed with the Trojans as a defensive tackle.
The Trojans also gained new wide receivers Payton Carter, Richard Hallman and Ismail Saleem.
On the defensive side, the players who signed have a wide variety of different positions. The new are safeties Melvin Tyus, Tron Folsom and Cedarius Rookard.
Tyus finished his senior year with 78 tackles, eight pass break ups and four interceptions. Folsom was an adaptable player at his high school, not only playing safety, but also running back, wide receiver, linebacker, and cornerback. Rookard is known for having collected 840 kickoff return yards and averaging 44.2 yards per return in high school.
Defensive ends, Antione Barker and Uvakeious McGhee, both had high numbers in tackles in their junior and senior years. Barker played in the Subway High School All-Star Game after recording 73 tackles his senior year. As a junior, he made 71. McGhee had 60 tackles his senior year, and made a whopping 82 tackles and seven sacks.
Troy signed defensive tackles Trevon Sanders and Demone Kemp, and linebackers Doug Salter and A.J. Smiley. Salter had 88 tackles his senior year and 114 his junior year. Cornerback Jawon McDowell earned all-state, all-area and all-region honors as a senior, and offensively rushed for 523 yards and had 10 touchdowns.
“I think we set the tone with this class,” Brown said. “As we look forward to the 2016 class, where we have a full 12 or 13 months to recruit, I think we put some schools on lookout that have traditionally come into our territory and had some success the past few years.”