CONWAY — The Coastal Carolina football program has added seven more players to its roster, including three transfers from FBS programs and a fifth-year quarterback with experience at the FCS level.
The Chanticleers announced Wednesday that quarterback Aaron Aiken (Georgetown) and offensive lineman Morgan Bailey (Georgia Tech) have transferred to Coastal Carolina for their final years of eligibility while defensive tackle Jabarai Bothwell (Western Michigan) and linebacker Kyle Fleetwood (South Carolina) transfer into the program as sophomores.
Meanwhile, defensive back Keon Brown (Oldsmar, Fla.), linebacker Devontaye Edwards (Sumter) and defensive lineman Tarrol Stafford (New Haven, Conn.) will join the Chants as freshmen.
“I think in general we would only bring in an experienced transfer, frankly, if we felt good about the individual’s character and felt good about that person being able to fit into our program,” Chants head coach Joe Moglia said. “… In each of the cases, they’re experienced in an area where we have some concerns about our depth. And like anybody else, they’ll come in and get a chance to compete.”
Coastal Carolina offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude had said after the Chants’ spring game in April that the team would be adding a veteran quarterback, much like it did last year as former Wofford starter Brian Kass joined the program for his final year of eligibility.
Players who have completed their undergraduate degree with a year of eligibility remaining are permitted to transfer to another program without having to sit out a season. And so Aiken comes in with a chance to compete immediately for the backup job behind junior starter Alex Ross. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound quarterback spent his first two seasons at Georgetown being coached by Patenaude before the offensive coordinator moved to Coastal Carolina.
Aiken saw minimal playing time in four games at quarterback as a redshirt-freshman and played in seven games with four starts as a sophomore, completing 52-of-110 passes for 501 yards before moving to receiver last season.
He’s regarded as a mobile quarterback who might give the Chants some different options, but he’ll first have to compete with junior Michael Church for the backup quarterback job.
“With regard to Aaron, he already knows the system. It’s the system they used at Georgetown,” Moglia said. “He knows coach Patenaude. He’s a good athlete, he’ll have the chance to come in and compete, but in a similar position that Brian Kass did a year ago. …
“Aaron will have the opportunity to compete for a backup job. Now Mike Church did that a year ago with Brian here and Mike was the guy that ended up backing up Alex.”
Among the newcomers, the player Moglia expects to make the most immediate impact is Bailey. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound offensive lineman played in 10 games with seven starts as a sophomore two years ago at Georgia Tech before being limited to three games last season due to injury.
The Chants lost two starters from their 2013 offensive line in senior left guard Jamey Cheatwood and senior right tackle Drew Herring.
“He has started at Georgia Tech and we lose two guys who were really good football players for us,” Moglia said. “Like anyone else, Morgan still has to learn the system and he still has to earn the position. Nobody here has a guarantee. But you can’t play at the national level and not have two solid lines of depth.”
Bothwell, meanwhile, comes to Coastal Carolina after seeing limited action in nine games last fall as a 5-foot-11, 285-pound redshirt-freshman defensive tackle at Western Michigan.
Fleetwood played sparingly in four games for South Carolina last season as a redshirt-freshman after moving from strong safety to the spur position. Now listed as a 5-foot-11, 225-pound linebacker, he had seven interceptions, 11 pass break-ups and 49 tackles as a senior at Stephenson High School in Georgia in 2011.
Brown, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound defensive back, recorded 37 tackles and eight pass break-ups for a 13-2 East Lake High School team in Florida last year.
Edwards, listed as a 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker, was selected first-team Division I-AAAA All-State as a senior at Sumter while leading the team to a state runner-up finish.
And Stafford, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive lineman, earned first-team Class M All-State honors at James Hillhouse High School in Connecticut.
Making room for the newcomers, several underclassmen from the Chants’ 2013 roster are no longer with the program, though the only notable offseason departures were quarterback Dalton Demos, defensive end Moon Edwards, safety Lorenzo Boyles and linebacker Michael Battle, who all played in reserve roles.
A complete list of departures was not available, and it’s not known whether the newcomers received scholarship money or arrive as walk-ons.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.