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ETSU addresses needs with football signing class

Jeff Birchfield • Feb 6, 2020 at 12:09 AM

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State football coach Randy Sanders felt his staff addressed specific needs with a 23-man signing class announced at a Wednesday press conference at Greene Stadium.

The task of filling spots on the offensive and defensive lines was of utmost importance.

“We’ve lost a lot of big guys out of our program the last couple of years,” Sanders said. “We’ve lost 11 offensive linemen the last two years and obviously, three starting defensive linemen. We had to recruit the interior people, recruit some size. One thing I’ve learned being here three years is it’s harder to build depth and maintain it with 63 scholarships than the first 28 years of my career with 85 scholarships (at FBS schools).”

Sanders didn’t think offensive line would be as much of a need, but a couple of players decided to pursue grad school instead of coming back to play football their senior seasons.

By position, the signing class consists of six offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, four linebackers, four defensive backs, two running backs, two quarterbacks and one wide receiver.

It includes transfers Ja’Varius Harrison, a linebacker from Quincy, Florida, who played three seasons at Buffalo, and defensive back Mike Price, who played as a freshman at Appalachian State.

It’s a group exclusively from the Southeast. Eight are from Tennessee, seven from Georgia, three from Florida, two from North Carolina and one each from Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia.

“We had a couple more in-state guys we would have liked to have gotten,” Sanders said. “They thought there were brighter pastures somewhere else. But we’re excited about this class.”

Three local products are David Crockett quarterback Cade Larkins (6-2, 205), Tennessee High offensive lineman Nolan Wishon (6-6, 240) and Science Hill defensive lineman Jaiden Miles (6-0, 315).

Larkins, the Johnson City Press and Kingsport Times News male athlete of the year for the 2018-19 school year, was a two-time all-state quarterback. His 11,042 career passing yards are second all-time in Tennessee. He led the Pioneers to their best season in school history his junior season, when they finished 12-1 with a loss to eventual Class 5A state champion Knox Central.

It was more than numbers that Sanders, a former University of Tennessee quarterback who worked with Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at Florida State, saw in Larkins.

“His coach had told me some good things, and the first time I watched him throw, there were three other college coaches,” Sanders said. “I watched him throw the third ball and I was like, ‘This guy can really throw the football. I like him a lot.’

“I sat there, acted nonchalant and left early. I hoped those guys would leave early, too. I was impressed with his overall ability. I love his size, the way he throws the ball and I like his mental makeup. He’s very competitive and tough with a lot of qualities I’ve always tried to pursue with quarterbacks.”

Player Bios

DECEMBER SIGNEES

Macho Arza – WR – 6-2 – 185 – Miami, Fla. (Booker T. Washington HS)

• Lettered in football at Booker T. Washington HS, 4A school in Miami, Fla.

• Led his team to the FHSAA 4A State Championship in 2019

• Named Second Team All-Big Bend as a sophomore in 2018

• Tabbed as the team captain each of the last three seasons

• Gets the job done in the classroom as well, earning Superior Honor Roll each of his four years

• Named the 2019 FHSAA Scholar Athlete of the Year

• Son of Edward and Ida Arza ... Plans to major in Sport Management

Deven Brantley – LB/DE – 6-2 – 215 – Riverdale, Ga. (Charles Drew HS)

• Earned first team all-region team for 4-AAAAAA in 2018

• Recorded 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, and four sacks in 2017

• Rated as a 3-star recruit from Rivals.com

Cade Larkins – QB – 6-2 – 205 – Jonesborough, Tenn. (David Crockett HS)

• Lettered in football and baseball for David Crockett High School

• Ranked second all-time in career passing yards for Tennessee and sixth in career passingtouchdowns

• Top 25 in the nation for all-time career passing yards

• Led Crockett to a conference championship and was named Mr. Football Finalist and Mountain Lakes Conference Offensive Player of the Year as a junior

• Twice named First Team All-Conference (2017 & 2019)

• Recently named News Channel 11 High School Football Player of the Year

• Awarded two-time Team MVP and two-time all-state quarterback

• Awarded Johnson City Press Male Athlete of the Year as a junior

• Named First Team All-Conference in baseball as a junior

• Accumulated 11,042 career passing yards with 105 touchdowns

• As a junior, batted .455 in baseball with six home runs

• Son of Doug and Gina Larkins

• Uncle, Scott Scudder, played baseball for the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians...Cousin, Payton Garland, is on the rowing team at Tennessee...Cousin, Evan Crawford, played baseball at Auburn and later for the Toronto Blue Jays

Chandler Martin – LB – 6-0 – 215 – Lithonia, Ga. (Arabia Mountain HS)

• Started varsity for three years at Arabia Mountain HS, playing both linebacker and running back

• Finished with 108 tackles in 2019, including 15 tackles for loss

• Named 2019 All-State by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association

• Recorded 12 or more tackles in nine games during senior year, while also leading the team in rushes and rushing touchdowns

• Twice named All-Dekalb County First Team (2018 & 2019) and was the 5AAAAA Runner Up Defensive Player of the Year in 2019

• Twice tabbed to the Region 5AAAAA First Team (LB) in 2018 and 2019

• 2019 Nike Opening Atlanta Region Combine MVP with a score of 122.97

• Competed in the 2018 Rising Seniors Bowl, starting at linebacker

• Led his team to the 2017 Region 5AAAAA Title and played in the 2017 Offense/Defense Bowl

• Honor roll student each of his four years at Arabia Mountain

• Son of Jeff and Sherlonda Martin ... Plans to major in Business

• Sister, Jaya Martin, plays volleyball for the Hiram College Terriers

George Odimegwu – DB – 6-1 – 190 – Spring Hill, Tenn. (Summit HS)

• Lettered in football at Summit HS for four seasons

• Three-time all-region and appeared on the all-state team once

• Tallied 2,000 rushing yards with 30 touchdowns and 800 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns

• Son of George Odimegwu and Susan Lynn...plans to major in sport management

• Sister, Olivia Odimegwu, played soccer at Spring Hill College

Colton Webb – DE – 6-4 – 255 – Powell, Tenn. (Powell HS)

• Lettered in football and basketball at Powell HS

• Named All-Region in three consecutive seasons for Powell, in addition to being named 2019 Defensive Lineman of the Year

• 2019 TSWA All-State honors as well as TNFCA All-State recipient

• Named 2019 Mr. Football Semifinalist

• Registered 165 tackles, 51 tackles for loss, 59 QB hurries, 16 sacks and six forced fumbles in just two years

• Son of Kim and Randy Webb...majoring in biology

Nolan Wishon – OL – 6-6 – 240 – Bristol, Tenn. (Tennessee HS)

• Lettered in football and basketball at Tennessee HS

• Led Tennessee High School to its first conference championship in 10 years

• Named All-Conference all three seasons and was named Lineman of the Year for the Big 7 Conference

• Awarded First Team All-State as a senior

• Recorded over 1,000 career points in basketball and is the second leading rebounder in school history

• Son of Jill Wishon...plans to major in business or sport management

• Brother, Nick Wishon, plays baseball for King in Bristol

FEBRUARY SIGNEES

Octavious “TJ” Bouie – DL – 6-3 - 285 – Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee HS)

• Lettered in football at Pahokee HS

• Led Pahokee to the Class 1A State Championship game in 2016

• Concluded his career with 124 tackles and 15.5 sacks

• Son of Rikina and Douglas Angram...plans on majoring in criminal justice

• Aunt, Riquna Williams, played eight seasons for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA

• Has two cousins that played professional football, Anquan Boldin who played for 14 seasons in the league and Alphonso Smith who played four years

Daniel Davila – LB – 6-2 – 225 – Lebanon, Tenn. (Lebanon HS)

• Lettered in football at Lebanon HS

• Was named the 2019 East vs. West Defensive MVP

• Tabbed to the All-Wilson County Football Team and was named All-Region 4-6A

• Finished with 108 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and one interception at the linebacker position

• Son of Maria and Alvaro Coelho...planning on majoring in business

Tylik Edwards – DB – 6-1 – 170 – Rock Hill, S.C. (Rock Hill HS)

• Lettered in football and basketball at Rock Hill High School

• Was awarded Player of the Game six times as a senior

• Named Team MVP for football and Defensive Player of the Year in basketball

• Named to the A-B Honor Roll

• Son of Timothy and Tammy Atkinson-Edwards

Stephen Flores – OL – 6-5 – 295 – Manassas, Va. (Colgan HS)

• Lettered in football at Colgan HS

• Named First Team All-District in 2019 and was the Offensive MVP as a senior

• Did not allow any sacks with Colgan High School in 2019

• Son of Miguel and Lakia Flores...plans to major in either business management or sports science

• Father, Miguel, played five seasons in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles

Trey Foster – RB – 5-11 – 205 – Knoxville, Tenn. (Austin-East HS)

• Lettered in football at Austin-East HS, playing quarterback, wide receiver and running back

• Twice named Offensive Player of the Year (2018 & 2019)

• Two-time All-State honoree (2018 & 2019)

• In 2019, passed for 2,366 yards with 25 touchdowns and rushed for 1,700 yards

• Son of James Gaillard...plans to major in sport management

Ja’Varius Harrison – LB – 5-11 – 225 – Quincy, Fla. (North Florida Christian)

• Lettered in football at North Florida Christian, playing linebacker and running back

• Transferred to ETSU from University of Buffalo, playing three seasons with the Bulls, including redshirting as a sophomore

• Played a total of 27 games with Buffalo, accumulating 20 tackles

• As a linebacker in high school, tallied 198 total tackles, including 85 as a senior

• Rushed for 430 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior at NFC

• Tabbed as a 2A All-State linebacker and was named the 2015 Tallahassee Quarterback Club Defensive Player of the Year

• Twice named First Team All-Big Bend in 2015 and 2016

Chris Hope – DB – 6-0 – 180 – Madison, Ala. (James Clemens HS)

• Lettered in football and track & field at James Clemens HS

• Named First Team All-Region and All-State in 2019, finishing with 65 catches for 1,001 yards

• Awarded 2017 Second Team All-Huntsville and Second Team All-Region after 36 catches for 537 yards

• Accumulated 142 catches in three years for 2,049 yards

• Son of Maria and Chris Hope...plans to major in kinesiology

Bryson Irby – RB – 6-0 – 195 – Douglasville, Ga. (Alexander HS)

• Lettered in football at Alexander HS, primarily playing as a running back

• Named Offensive Player of the Year in 2019-20

• Rushed for 1,466 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior

• Son of Toure Duriel Irby and Farra Bianca Irby...planning on majoring in sports medicine

Jaylon Jones – DL – 6-4 – 260 – Valdosta, Ga. (Lowndes HS)

• Lettered in football and basketball at Lowndes HS in Valdosta, Ga.

• Led Lowndes High School to regional championship in 2019

• Finished his senior year with 41 tackles (22 solo) and eight tackles for loss

• Son of Curtis and Detra Jones...plans to major in sport management

• Cousin, Telvin, plays football at Florida State

Joshua Kimmons – OL – 6-3 – 280 – Kennesaw, Ga. (North Cobb HS)

• Lettered in football at North Cobb HS

• Named First Team All-Region, First Team All-County and awarded the Power of Peace Project two years

• Was voted team captain as a senior and was nominated as a Positive Athlete of Georgia

• Only surrendered two sacks in two seasons with North Cobb

• Son of Doug and Rebecca Kimmons...plans to major in sport management

• Has a twin brother and is the youngest of three boys...Great Grandfather, Allen Gettel, played professional baseball

Brock Landis – QB – 6-4 – 205 – Hoschton, Ga. (Winder-Barrow HS)

• Lettered in football and basketball at Winder-Barrow High School

• Named First Team All-Region quarterback in 2015

• Names Region’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2017

• Transferring to ETSU from Blinn College

• As a freshman, completed 91-of-171 passes for 1,462 and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for 131 yards and five scores

• Turned in a dominating sophomore campaign with the Buccaneers in 2019, completing 166-of-307 passes for 2,619 yards and 28 touchdowns to just six interceptions

Jaiden Miles – DL – 6-0 – 315 – Johnson City, Tenn. (Science Hill HS)

• Lettered in football at Science Hill High School

• Named Defensive Player of the Year for 6A in 2019

• Two-time all-conference honoree

• Finished with over 100 tackles for his career

• Son of Clarissa Abbott and Kenneth Arms...plans to major in sport management

Mike Price – DB – 5-10 – 190 – Stockbridge, Ga. (Stockbridge HS)

• Lettered in football at Stockbridge HS

• Transferred to ETSU from Appalachian State where he redshirted as a freshman and

then played 14 games in 2019, accumulating 12 tackles on the season

• Recorded a season-high three tackles in the win over North Carolina...also registered one tackle in the win over ETSU

• Led Stockbridge to an undefeated regular season in 2017, finishing with 75 tackles (48 solo), three interceptions and one forced fumble

• Named to the All-Region 4-AAAAA team in 2017

• Finished his high school career with 138 tackles (87 solo), five interceptions and four tackles for loss

• Returned an interception 58 yards to the house in 2016, when he finished with 58 tackles and two interceptions for a 13-1 Stockbridge unit

• Son of Guy and Alexia Price and has one sister, Alexandria

Trey Richburg – OL – 6-3 – 270 – Matthews, N.C. (Butler HS)

• Lettered in football at Butler HS, playing both offensive and defensive line

• Named three-time all-conference

• No sacks allowed in 2019

• Son of Tremayne and Monique Richburg

Jackson Riley – OL – 6-1 – 285 – Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Oakland HS)

• Lettered in football and wrestling at Oakland HS

• Led Oakland to the 2018 6A State Title

• Four-time regional champion with Oakland HS

• Named to the 2019 All-State team as well as being named Region Offensive Lineman of the Year

• Named to both the 2018 and 2019 All-Region squad

• Garnered a spot on the 2019 Tate Mathews Dream Team

• Three-time Daily News Journal All-Area team (2017-19)

• Led Oakland to the 2018 Regional Championship in wrestling

• Two-time All-Area and All-Region in wrestling (2017-18)

• Son of Matt and Rajayna Riley...plans to major in business or teaching

• Father, Matt, played football for four seasons at Middle Tennessee State...Uncle, Spencer, played football at Tennessee

Braxton Shipp – OL – 6-4 – 285 – Concord, N.C. (Northwest Cabarrus HS)

• Lettered in football and track& field at Northwest Cabbarus HS

• Two-time conference champion and two-time all-conference

• Recorded the most pancakes in the conference twice and was awarded best O-Line in the conference

• Finished with 21 pancakes as a senior

• Son of Crystal and Tommy Shipp...Mother, Crystal, played four years of basketball at East Carolina

• Plans to major in personal finance