The new NCAA early signing period proved to be quite fruitful for Coastal Carolina.
The Chanticleers signed 18 players Wednesday that will be part of its class of 2018 and possibly contribute to Coastal’s second season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level in the Sun Belt Conference.
“We think the guys we had sign with us today are really qualified,” said CCU recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Cory Bailey. “We think this group is absolutely a Sun Belt-quality group and in a lot of cases we think a lot of these guys can play at a higher level for sure.”
The Chants loaded up on skill players, as the early signees include two quarterbacks, three running backs, three wide receivers, up to three tight ends and an athlete.
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“Offensively that was a big area to target,” said offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jamey Chadwell. “One of the areas of improvement we needed overall as a team was team speed, specifically offensively trying to get more speed and get more athleticism. That was our big push offensively.”
There are no players from South Carolina among the early signees.
“We have several guys in the state of South Carolina we’re still on,” Chadwell said. “The biggest challenge for us is there are a lot of other Sun Belt teams and Conference USA teams that come into South Carolina to take some of those players that have been established more at that level. We’re still building what we’re going to become within this state.
“… It has always been our priority to look inside [the state] first then go outside. We feel great about the people we did bring in and we feel there will be at least one, hopefully two and maybe even three guys from South Carolina once this signing date is done in February.”
The early signing period runs through Friday and the Chants may add a couple players before the period expires. Bailey said there are two players who he believes are fully committed but haven’t signed yet.
This is the first year for the early signing period. The traditional signing period for the class of 2018 begins Feb. 7 and runs through April 1.
We’ve kind of sorted through this early signing date, and the players and recruits are doing the same. So a lot of these guys we’re involved with and are still on have said they want to wait until the February signing day. We respect that and we’ll continue to recruit those guys.
CCU recruiting coordinator Cory Bailey
Coastal has up to 30 scholarships it can award to its incoming class as it tries to catch up to other FBS programs through its transition from 14 years at the Football Championship Subdivision. The full allotment of 30 would give the Chants up to 81 players on scholarship – depending on any departures – which is four fewer than the FBS limit of 85.
Coastal played the 2017 season with 68 scholarship players, which is just five more than the FCS limit. The Chants could reach the 85 allotted scholarships by the 2019 season.
“I feel we’ve got a really good nucleus of recruits left on our board that will allow us to get a good amount more in that next signing date [in February],” Bailey said. “We’re going to be smart with our scholarships. We would never sign a kid just to sign a kid.
“… Our philosophy has always been we move a little bit slower in terms of offering guys and try to get guys committed. We really try to do our homework. We think these guys really buy into our BAM (Be a Man) philosophy. We’ve made sure we know everything about them, and we truly think they’re going to help us.”
Coastal played more than 20 freshmen this past season, including at least five true freshmen, and ended the season with the nation’s youngest and least experienced offensive line.
Six players are expected to enroll at CCU and join the Chants in January, including the three incoming sophomores who are transfers and are the only non-freshmen among the signees.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to play early as a freshman,” Chadwell said. “We feel we have a good young nucleus coming back, but there are going to be roles that need to be filled in some way. … We have six guys coming in mid-year, so those guys are going to have a great chance to put themselves in position to earn some type of playing time.”
Defensive end Wallace Cowins (6-4, 240), linebacker Teddy Gallagher (6-1, 235) and running back Torrance Marable (5-10, 185), who led the Big South Conference in rushing as a freshman at Presbyterian this past year, are the rising sophomore transfers. Defensive back Eriziah “Tank” Walker (6-3, 175) is a freshman coming from a prep school.
A few more junior college players will likely be signed in February to fill specific needs. “I do expect us to sign maybe two guys most likely in the next signing period to fit a need here or there,” Chadwell said. “But we felt like we could find that same quality-type player that could come in and fit that need as a high school player.”
The Chants are looking to add linemen and another receiver or running back on offense, and on defense they still have needs in the secondary, and Bailey would also like to add a couple defensive linemen and a linebacker.
Bailey said he expects up to five current players to leave the program, generally because they are not likely to receive playing time, and possibly transfer to FCS programs, and he said the coaching staff is helping them find new schools.
We were involved in some pretty serious recruiting battles on pretty much every one of these kids on this list against programs that we might not have been able to beat in the past as an FCS program. … A lot of these guys had at least mid-major and in a number of cases Power Five offers that we were able to get.
CCU recruiting coordinator Cory Bailey
Among CCU’s class of 2018:
▪ Quarterback Bryce Carpenter and receiver Jaivon Heiligh come as a combination package from Venice High School in Florida. Carpenter was named the Florida Class 7A Player of the Year, completing 191 of 315 passes for 3,053 yards and 42 touchdowns while adding 273 rushes for 1,274 yards and 22 TDs. Heiligh set Florida state records with 131 receptions, 2,359 receiving yards and 32 receiving TDs as a senior and holds the state record for career receptions with 252.
▪ Marable of Decatur, Ga., is available to transfer and play immediately because Presbyterian is dropping scholarships, and is coming off a freshman season in which he rushed for 1,038 yards.
▪ Quarterback Fred Payton of Parkview High in Georgia is rated as a three-star recruit by 247sports.com and threw for 2,444 yards and 25 TDs while rushing for 630 yards and four scores this past season.
▪ Running back Antonio Robinson of Austin High in Decatur, Ala., rushed for 1,391 yards and 21 TDs as a senior despite sharing the backfield with Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year Asa Martin, who rushed for 2,228 yards.
▪ Running back Bryson Godfrey of Alexander Central High in North Carolina averaged 10.6 yards per carry and 131 rushing yards per game as a senior, and amassed nearly 5,700 all-purpose yards and 50 TDs in his career.
▪ Receiver Da’kendall James of Portsmouth Christian School in Virginia caught 68 passes for 1,336 yards and 19 TDs as a senior and had 3,126 career receiving yards.
▪ Tight end and defensive lineman Jerrod Clark (6-4, 230), who is rated a top-10 prospect in Massachusetts by one recruiting site, caught 26 touchdowns in three seasons and recorded 192 tackles and 31 sacks in 35 career starts.
Bryce Carpenter *
Torrance Marable *
Alexander Central HS
Da’kendall James *
Portsmouth Christian School
Powder Springs, Ga.
Burke County HS
Wallace Cowins *
Georgia Military College
Harrells Christian Academy
Christchurch School (Va.)
Teddy Gallagher *
Glendale Comm. College
Eriziah Walker *
Milford Academy (NY)
Massimo Biscardi *
Downingtown West HS
* Expected to enroll at Coastal Carolina in January