RICHMOND, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky University football program got an early start on putting together a fourth straight top-25 rated recruiting class with 12 high school players and a junior college transfer signing National Letters of Intent (NLI) during the early signing period, Head Coach Mark Elder announced today.
The group includes three defensive lineman, two defensive backs, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one linebacker, one kicker and one offensive lineman. Seven states are represented among the group, including four from Ohio, three from Georgia, two from North Carolina, and one each from Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.
This is the second year for the early signing period for NCAA Division I football. Previously, prospective student-athletes signed with their school of choice on the first Wednesday of February only. The February signing period still remains.
In his three years as head coach, Elder has engineered three straight top-25 rated recruiting classes. Despite having less than two months to put together his first class, Eastern’s 2016 class was ranked as the 23rd best in the nation. Elder’s second recruiting class was rated as the 14th best. The 2018 group was ranked 11th in the country.
The results of the staff’s strong recruiting showed this past season as the Colonels finished 7-4, nearly upsetting FBS Bowling Green and closing the campaign with four straight wins.
Eastern Kentucky has won two national championships, 21 conference titles and has made 21 playoff appearances. No other FCS team has won at least two FCS national titles and 20 or more conference championships.
The following are individual profiles of the 2019 early signees.
Nic Cheeley – CB, 6-1, 175, Fr., McCleansville, N.C. (Eastern Guilford HS)
Had 12 interceptions his final two seasons of high school football … had 1,676 yards receiving and 22 career touchdowns … received offers from Tennessee State … also recruited by North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Malik Clark – DE, 6-4, 200, Fr., Marietta, Ga. (Sprayberry HS)
Received offers from Kent State, Southern Mississippi and Tennessee Tech.
Payton Collins – OL, 6-6, 250, Fr., Columbus, Ohio (Bishop Hartley HS)
First team all-state as a senior … first team all-district, first team All-CCL and first team all-metro his senior season … earned first team All-CCL and second team all-district as a junior … averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds while earning first team All-CCL and second team all-district as a member of the Hawks’ basketball team.
Tyris Dickerson – RB, 5-10, 210, Fr., Akron, Ohio (Archbishop Hoban HS)
Earned third team all-state recognition after rushing for 2,107 yards (9.1 yards per carry) and scoring 29 touchdowns as a senior in 2018 … also chosen first team all-district … had 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging 8.2 yards per carry as a junior … earned honorable mention all-state recognition and first team all-district honors his junior season … four-time state champion … received offers from Akron and Eastern Michigan.
Josiah Ezirim – DT, 6-6, 275, Fr., Columbus, Ohio (Hilliard Davidson HS)
Received offers from Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Youngstown State … also recruited by Ohio State and Michigan State.
Kaleb Lundy – LB, 6-2, 200, Fr., Winston-Salem, N.C. (East Forsyth HS)
Recorded 118 tackles (8.4 per game), two sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, one blocked punt and one forced fumble as a senior in 2018 … Helped East Forsyth High School to a 15-0 record and a class 4A state championship … received offers from North Carolina Central, Alabama A&M and Morgan State.
Mason Molique – K, 6-1, 170, Fr., Union, Ky. (Ryle HS)
Made 74 consecutive extra-points … had 26 field goals, including a streak of 11 straight … totaled 171 career extra-points … received offers from Western Kentucky … also recruited by Cincinnati and Louisville.
Malik Owens – TE, 6-5, 215, Fr., Goodlettsville, Tenn. (Stratford Comprehensive HS)
Led the Spartans to a region championship and an improbable run to the state semifinals … averaged 22.7 yards per reception … earned all-region honors … was also recruited by Memphis and Tennessee State.
Quentin Pringle – RB, 5-9, 180, Fr., Bolingbrook, Ill. (Bolingbrook HS)
First team all-state … rushed for 1,112 yards and scored 18 touchdowns as a senior at Bolingbrook High School … rushed for 229 yards on nine carries and scored four touchdowns in one game … totaled 1,049 yards and 13 touchdowns his junior season, running for a school record 421 yards in one game … scored 18 touchdowns his sophomore season … also received offers from Eastern Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota and Western Illinois … recruited by Iowa, Missouri and North Dakota State.
Kabbash Richards – DE, 6-5, 210, Fr., Lansing, Mich. (Lansing Catholic HS)
Totaled 127 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hurries, five pass break-ups, one blocked punt and four forced fumbles during his career … averaged 22.3 yards per reception … named to Lansing area “Dream Team” … received offers from Bowling Green and Ball State.
Davion Ross – WR, 6-0, 165, Fr., Perry, Ga. (Perry HS)
Had 100 receptions for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns during his high school career … totaled 1,165 all-purpose yards as a senior … received offers from Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Gardner-Webb.
Matt Wilcox Jr. – WR, 5-10, 185, Jr., Dayton, Ohio (Independence CC)
AS A SOPHOMORE IN 2018 AT INDEPENDENCE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Finished the season with 19 receptions for 142 yards … had a season-best 51 yards on five receptions against Butler Community College (Oct. 6) … averaged 15.5 yards on six kickoff returns.
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2017 AT BOWLING GREEN
Finished true freshman season with 14 receptions for 106 yards and scored a touchdown … played in all 12 games, starting three times, at wide receiver … team’s primary kick returner, averaging 24.6 yards per return, the seventh-best single-season average in program history.
Three star recruit at Wayne High School … ranked among top receivers in Ohio high school history with 188 career receptions and 2,525 career receiving yards.
Jaden Woods – DB, 6-0, 180, Fr., Decatur, Ga. (South Gwinnett HS)
Had five interceptions 13 pass break-ups and 80 tackles over his final two seasons … team captain … also received offers from Austin Peay and Cornell and a preferred walk-on spot at Miami (Fla.) … national Honor Society … all-state academic team … Gwinnett Scholar Athlete of the Year.