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Jackson State: Hendrick era begins with speedy, talented national signing day class

Jackson State’s new coach is hoping his new recruiting class can bring about a new era for the proud program.

Jackson State: Hendrick era begins with speedy, talented national signing day class

Jackson, Miss. – When the Jackson State football team lost in its season finale to Alcorn State 24-3 – a game that would have secured the Tigers a spot in 2018 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship – then Tigers interim head coach John Hendrick was not even sure if he would get offered the head coach position.

Eleven days after the Tigers disappointing loss in the Soul Bowl, JSU announced that “Big John” as he sometimes referred became head coach and the real work began for Hendrick, hiring a new coaching staff over the winter holidays and securing good talent for the future of the football program.

Hendrick and his coaching staff solidified the idea of bringing in talent to help restore the Tigers football program to past glory on National Signing Day. He stressed the importance of speed and athleticism in the Tigers 2019 recruiting class.

“We are very pleased with this recruiting class,” Hendrick said.

“We wanted to improve our offensive line and make that more athletic. We wanted to have a few more dynamic guys that score the ball on offense from anywhere and improve our overall speed on defense and I think we have addressed that.”

Running Backs

JSU signed two running backs in Alexander and Clarke, both of whom can run the ball effectively and be dynamic playmakers. Per JSU coaching staff, Alexander will most likely line up in the slot as a wide receiver.

Tyson Alexander, RB (Desoto, TX) | 5-11, 190

Kymani Clarke, RB (Ocala, Florida) | 5-10, 190

“Oh, what a dynamic guy,” Hendrick said about Clarke.

“He changes the face of what we are at running back. He has size and speed.” I would look for him to maybe break in some playing time this fall.”

Gregory Williams, RB (Early Signing period)


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Offensive Linemen

The Tigers signed four offensive linemen, a big priority for the offense headed into the new season. After the 2018 season, Jackson State lost Charles Paige, Brandon McCoy, Daunte Fisher and Donnell Paster.

Leroy Hawkins, OL (Desoto, TX) |6-5, 250

William Wynn, OL (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) | 6-5, 280

Jalen Jones, OL (Memphis, Tenn.) | 6-3, 300

Aric Harris, OL (Pensacola, Fla.) |6-4, 290

Raheem Wilson, OL (Early Signing period)

“These guys were really essential for this class,” Hendrick said.

“We really needed to improve our athleticism there. These guys can move, they have quickness. They can run.”

Ron Dickerson, the Tigers offensive coordinator, said he is most excited about the competition coming in but putting emphasis on the offensive linemen.

“Offensive linemen are the baseline of this offense,” Dickerson said.

“We have to be at better physical capacity at the offensive line and I think some of these young guys and transfers are going to push some of these guys on campus.”

Wide Receivers

At the wide receiver position, the Tigers added players with speed and size.

Brandon Sanders, WR (Montgomery, Ala.) |6-2, 161

“Sanders is a little slight but has great height and eventually will be a nice size guy but they are dynamic,” Hendrick said.

“Brandon can score the ball from anywhere on the field.”

Jaylen Bracey, WR (Jackson, Miss.) |

“Bracey is a decent size guy, a make you miss kind of guy,” Hendrick said.

Christian Allen, QB (Mendenhall, Miss) | 5-11, 185 

Bryon Hanspard, (ATH) WR (Desoto, TX) |5-10, 170

D.D. Bowie, WR (transferred to JSU)

“When you play football, you want to have guys that make the defense look at you and say man we better stay on top of him or it’ll be six points,” Hendrick said.

“Those guys give us that.”

Quarterbacks

The quarterback position will be an important one for the Tigers’ offense next season. Although JSU has two returners in Derrick Ponder and Jack Strouse, there will be a fierce competition during the spring to determine who will start under center for the Tigers i the fall.

Brandon Mallory, QB (Plano, TX) |6-3, 195

Quincy Casey, QB (Memphis, Tenn.) |6-1, 180

Patrick Johnson, QB (Jackson, Miss.) |6-4, 205

Mat Little, QB, So (RS)  (Early Signing period)

Returners: Derrick Ponder, JR; Jack Strouse, Freshman (RS)

“We needed young guys,” Hendrick said.

“We wanted to create a quarterback battle on our football team, guys that can come in and push each other and make us better at this position.”

Defensively, like the offensive commits, the Tigers brought in more speed and athleticism.

“I think we have put together a class with a bunch of guys that can run, tackle well and they understand football,” Hendrick said.

Linebackers

Keith Lopez, LB (New Iberia, La.) |6-6, 215

Joshua Hudson, LB (Charlotte, NC) |6-1, 210

Eric Jones, LB (Tupelo, Miss.) |6-3, 250

Jacquel Honer, LB (Jackson, Miss.) | 6-1, 220

Lost from 2018: Eric Bowie, Darrius Woods

Lionel Stokes, the Tigers defensive coordinator, said Honer is a comparison to Tigers’ Keontre Hampton at the linebacker position.

“You can put him in the middle,” Stokes said.

“He’s going to run your defense, he’s going to command your defense, he’s going to play the right way, he’s going to be where he supposed to be, he’s going to be one of those leaders that we are going to look to play for us.”

Defensive Linemen

Devonta Davis, DL (Union Springs, AL) |6-3, 290

Vincent McIntosh, DL (Early Signing period)

Emmanuel Olenga – DL (Early Signing period)

Lost from 2018: Malik Hamner, Lontray Jones

Defensive Backs

Markeyvrick Eddie, CB (New Iberia, La.) |6-1, 190

Jashon Baker, DB (Tylertown, Miss.) |6-0, 180

Robert McDaniel, SS (Bastrop, La., and Terry, Miss.) |6-2, 170

Lost from 2018: Arthur Fairley, Marquis Somers,

Jackson State will kick off the 2019 season on the road as the Tigers face Bethune Cookman in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Sept. 1 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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