New coach Blake Anderson signs 25 from nine states in highly touted A-State class

New coach Blake Anderson signs 25 from nine states in highly touted A-State class

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JONESBORO - Arkansas State first-year head football coach Blake Anderson announced Wednesday that 25 players, including four mid-year signees, from nine different states have signed with the three-time defending Sun Belt Conference champion.


 DE signee Jarrod Chandler
Arkansas State's first recruiting class under Anderson consists of 20 high school players, four junior college transfers and one NCAA FBS transfer. The class features five players from Arkansas, Alabama and Texas, four from Mississippi, two from California and one from Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee.

"We're excited about this class and what these players are going to bring to our team, both immediately and long-term," Anderson said. "There were some areas on our team where we wanted to focus our attention, and I feel like this class will address those needs to help us accomplish our goals. Throughout this recruiting process, as we got to know each individual better, we learned that these are young men with a lot of character who come from quality families. This is a group that will not only contribute to our competitive success, but also in the community and classroom."

The Red Wolves signed five defensive backs and defensive tackles, the most among any position, and 15 of the 25 players inked are expected to play on the defensive side of the ball. Also among the signees are three linebackers and two defensive ends. Including four offensive linemen, three running backs, two wide receivers and one quarterback, A-State signed 10 offensive players.

While the 2014 class rankings are not final, Arkansas State's class could possibly finish rated the highest in the Sun Belt Conference for the second time in the last three years considering it entered National Signing Day among the league's top-three teams by,, and

Among the 25 newest Red Wolves are 13 players rated at least three stars by one or more of the major recruiting sources, 14 who were named high school all-state and four who gained collegiate all-conference honors in some capacity. Additionally, 10 A-State signees are ranked among the top 60 players in their respective home state and 13 rated among the top 150 players in the country at their position by either Scout, Rivals, ESPN or 247Sports.

A-State's five midyear signees available to participate in spring practices are junior linebacker Carderious Dean, junior offensive lineman Kyle Harris, sophomore linebacker A.J. Turner and freshman cornerback Blaise Taylor.

The Red Wolves are coming off their third consecutive Sun Belt Conference championship season, which ended with their second straight GoDaddy Bowl victory. Including back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2011 and 2012 and eight more in 2013, the Red Wolves have recorded 28 victories for their most over a three-year span since winning 29 from 1985-87 as an NCAA I-AA (now FCS) member. The Red Wolves' 28 total wins over the last three seasons also ranks tied for the 20th most in the nation over that time period.

ARKANSAS?(5): Jhamahl Bell (Warren), Jarrod Chandler (Barton), Blake Mack (Lonoke), Chuks Ota (Jonesboro), A.J. Turner (Lepanto)
ALABAMA (5): D.J. Armstead (Florence), Brandon Byner (Bessemer), Terrance Hollingsworth (Berry), Daniel Keith (Florence), Blaise Taylor (Auburn)
TEXAS (5): Christian Beard (Waco), Charles Grant (Mesquite), Marcus Hudson (Manor), E.J. Sutton (Schertz), Nehemiah Wagner (Mesquite)
MISSISSIPPI (4): Caleb Caston (Pascagoula), Carderious Dean (Fulton), Kyle Harris (Fulton), Kyle Strickland (Brandon)
CALIFORNIA (2): Charles Alexander (Pittsburg), Tyler Trosin?(Sacramento)
GEORGIA (1): Khari Lain (Tyrone)
FLORIDA (1): Charles Gaskins (Tallahassee)
LOUISIANA (1): James Tabary (New Orleans)
TENNESSEE (1): Daryl Rollins-Davis (Knoxville)

DEFENSIVE BACK?(5): D.J. Armstead, Charles Gaskins, Charles Grant, Blaise Taylor, Nehemia Wagner
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (5): Charles Alexander, Marcus Hudson, Chuks Ota, Kyle Strickland, E.J. Sutton
OFFENSIVE LINE (4): Christian Beard, Jhamahl Bell, Kyle Harris, Daniel Keith
LINEBACKER (3): Carderious Dean, Khari Lain, A.J. Turner
DEFENSIVE END (2): Caleb Caston, Jarrod Chandler
RUNNING BACK (3): Brandon Byner, Terrance Hollingsworth, Daryl Rollins-Davis

WIDE RECEIVER (2): Blake Mack, Tyler Trosin
QUARTERBACK (1): James Tabary

Charles Alexander: ?6-4, 300, Jr., DT, Pittsburg, Calif. (Los Medanos (Calif.) Community College)

Two-time All-Bay Valley Conference (Northern California Football Association) choice at Los Medanos Community College . . . Helped lead the Mustangs to a 7-4 overall record and 4-1 Bay Valley record to finish the season as conference tri-champions . . . Recorded 46 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and one fumble recovery in eight games as a sophomore . . . Posted 47 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss as a freshman . . . Earned First Team All-Bay Valley Athletic League recognition as a senior at Deer Valley High School in Pittsburg, Calif., finishing the season with 88 tackles (56 solo), two sacks, two blocked field goals and one interception, fumble recovery and touchdown . . . Also lettered in basektball during high school.

D.J. Armstead: 5-11, 185, Fr., CB, Florence, Ala. (Florence)

High school teammate of current Red Wolves Jamaris Hart and Irving Adams . . . Helped lead Florence HS to a 9-4 record during senior season and the third round of the playoffs . . . Part of defense that held opponents to 21.3 points per game . . . Also runs track at Florence.

Christian Beard: 6-4, 270, Fr., OL, Waco, Texas (Midway)

Associated Press Class 5A All-State selection . . . Played in the National Underclassmen All-American game in Myrtle Beach, S.C. . . . Unanimous selection to the All-District 8-5A?Team . . . Graded out at 94 percent with 57 pancakes in 2013 . . . Named to the Waco Tribune's 2013 Super Centex Team as a first-team member . . . Helped lead Midway to a 2013 Bi-District championship in the state playoffs . . . Ranked No. 4 on the Waco Tribune's Centex Top 25 prospects in Central Texas . . . 3-star recruit ranked as the No. 105 offensive tackle in the nation by . . . 3-star recruit in's composite ratings, and listed as the No. 88 offensive guard in the nation by the Web site.

Jhamahl Bell: 6-3, 295, Fr., OL, Warren

Three-year starter at WHS . . . Versatile player that saw action at both guard and tackle . . . 19th ranked player in the state of Arkansas by . . . Named to the 2013 Arkansas Super Team, selected by the Associated Press . . . Fabulous 50 recruits choice for 2014 . . . One of three finalists for the Little Rock Touchdown Club's Willie Roaf Awards, given to the most oustanding high school offensive lineman in the state . . . 2013 first team All-Senior Team selection . . . Helped lead Lumberjacks to back-to-back undefeated conference championships in 2012 and 2013 and a 4A state runner-up finish in 2013 . . . Helped pave the way for a 1,575-yard rusher during junior season and two running backs with over 600 yards and a quarterback with over 400 during senior campaign.

Brandon Byner: 5-11, 177, Fr., RB, Bessemer, Ala. (Bessemer City)

Played on both sides of the ball in high school, playing multiple roles on the Bessemer City offense and cornerback on defense . . . Named the 2013 Birmingham News West Player of the Year, while also earning all-metro and all-state honors as a defensive back . . . With just 21 pass attempts thrown his direction, he collected two interceptions and 13 pass break-ups . . . Finished his senior season with 2,832 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns . . . Recorded 1,137 rushing yards and touchdowns . . . Posted 986 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 51 catches . . . Also tallied 799 yards and three touchdowns as return specialist . . . Helped BCHS to the second round of the Class 6A state playoff and to a 10-2 record in 2013.

Caleb Caston: 6-2, 210, Fr., DE, Pascagoula, Miss. (Pascagoula)

Three-year varsity starter at Pascagoula High School who helped lead the program to a 30-9 record over that span . . . Earned All-Region 4-5A honors as a senior after recording 53 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and three sacks . . . Earned a place on the Bernard Blackwell North-South Mississippi All-Star Game roster . . . Named the WLOX Defensive Player of the Year . . . Sun Herald's All-South Mississippi Team . . . Recorded 61 tackles and nine sacks as a junior, helping lead the Panthers to a Class 5A South title . . . Saw most action on defensive side of the ball, but also played some tight end . . . 59th-ranked player in the state of Mississippi by

Jarrod Chandler: 6-2, 205, Fr., DE, Barton

2013 Class 3A All-State selection . . . Chosen to the 2014 Arkansas Activites Association East All-Star football team . . . Farm Bureau Awards' Class 3A Defensive Player of the Year as a senior . . . Helped lead Barton to a 9-3 record and the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs . . . 16th-ranked player in the state of Arkansas by . . . . Also participated in basketball and track and field . . . Anchors the track team's 4x100 relay team . . . Nephew of former A-State defensive lineman and NFL player Jon Bradley, who was also a three-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection.

*Carderious Dean: 6-3, 235, Jr., LB, Byhalia, Miss. (Itawamba (Miss.) Community College)

Will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Red Wolves and will be able to practice with the team during its 2014 spring camp as a midyear signee . . . Recorded 68 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and a pass break-up during the 2013 season . . . Earned a place on the MACJC All-Star Football Classic roster, recording four tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in the game . . . Freshman campaign saw him tally 22 tackles, three tackles for loss and a half sack . . . Prior to attending ICC, he earned all-district recognition at Byhalia (Miss.) High School . . . Also named Byhalia's Most Improved Player as a senior . . . Ranked as the No. 18 inside linebacker in the nation by

Charles "Fudge" Gaskins: 5-11, 175, Fr., CB, Tallahassee, Fla. (Amos P. Godby)

Helped lead Godby HS to a 10-2 record and to the 2013 Florida 5A state playoffs . . . Recorded over 30 tackles, nine passes defended and multiple interceptions . . . 3-star recruit and 78th ranked cornerback in the nation . . . Listed as 3-star recruit in's composite rankings.

Charles Grant: 5-11, 180, S, Mesquite, Texas (Mesquite)

Four-year varsity letterman and three-year starter on the Mesquite High School football team . . . Three-time first team all-district selection . . . Named all-state by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) as a senior after recording 114 tackles and seven pass break-ups . . . Earned First Team Class 5A Academic All-State recognition as a senior by the Texas High School Coaches Association . . . Posted 91 tackles and seven pass break-ups as a junior, helping lead Mesquite to a perfect 10-0 regular season . . . 3-star recruit by, which also ranks him among the top 115 safeties in the nation.

*Kyle Harris: 6-4, 280, OL, Lindale, Ga. (Itawamba (Miss.) Community College)

Will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Red Wolves and will be able to practice with the team during its 2014 spring camp as a midyear signee . . . Originally signed with South Carolina out of high school before transferring to Itawamba Community College . . . Part of Itawamba's offensive line that helped lead the Indians to 429.3 yards of total offense per game in 2013 . . . Played in three games as a true freshman at South Carolina in 2011 before receiving a medical redshirt for the 2012 season that saw him participate in four contests, including one as a starter . . . Prior to signing with South Carolina, Harris was a two-time all-state selection at Pepperell High School in Lindale, Ga. . . . Also a three-time all-area choice, he was named PrepStars All-Southeast Region and invited to the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl as a senior . . . 3-star recruit . . . Ranked as the No. 22 offensive guard in the nation by

Terrance "Tank" Hollingsworth: 5-9, 195, Fr., RB, Berry, Ala. (Berry)

Four-year varsity letterman who ended his career at Berry as the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) all-time career leader in total offense (11,788 yards), all-purpose yards (13, 490) and rushing touchdowns (113) . . . Recorded 9,819 career rushing yards that were the second most in AHSAA history and just 20 shy of the record held by Mac Campbell of Alexandria . . . In addition to his 9,819 career rushing yards, his all-purpose totals included 1,240 receiving, 729 passing (included in ASHAA records) and 1,702 return yards . . . Scored 896 career points and 135 total touchdowns, which were the second and third most in ASHAA history, respectively . . . Named a First Team All-State pick and to the Alabama-Missippi All-State Game in 2013, he rushed for a career-high 2,125 yards and recorded 3,196 all-purpose yards as a senior . . . His all-purpose total as a senior rank as the 13th most for a single season in ASHAA history . . . Also posted 80 receiving, 503 passing and 388 return yards in 2013 . . . Named one of three finalists for the Arkansas Sports Writers Association (ASWA) Class 1A Back of the Year and earned 2012 Class 1A Player of the Year honors . . . Tallied a career-high 246 points and 37 touchdowns scored in 2011, which are the sixth most and tied for the 14th most in ASHAA history, respectively . . . 2012 ASWA First Team All-State . . . Tuscaloosa News Player of the Week . . . Also played defense during his high school career, recording more than 300 tackles, eight interceptions and nine forced fumbles from his linebacker position . . . 60th ranked overall player in the state of Alabama and 118th running back by

Marcus Hudson: 6-4, 265, Fr., DT, Manor, Texas (Manor)

Two-time All-District 17-4A selection, earning first-team honors as a senior and second-team recognition as a junior . . . Helped lead Manor to the Class 4A Division I Bi-District round of the 2013 state playoffs, a 9-2 overall record and 6-1 district mark . . . Manor reached the semifinal round of the 2012 season's Class 4A Division II playoffs when Hudson recorded 33 tackles (20 solo) and one sack.

Daniel Keith: ?6-5, 275, Fr., OL, Florence, Ala. (Florence)

Selected to play in the 2013 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game as a senior . . . Class 6A All-State selection in 2013 . . . Helped lead Florence to High School to a 9-4 record and the third round of the state playoffs as a senior . . . 3-star recruit and ranked as the 38th best player in the state of Alabama and the No. 91 offensive tackle in the nation by . . . High school teammate of current Red Wolves Jamaris Hart and Irving Adams.

Khari Lain: 5-10, 185, DB, Tyrone, Ga. (Sandy Creek)

3-star recruit and ranked as the No. 125 outside linebacker in the nation by . . . Rated as 3-star recruit in's composite rankings . . . Fayette County News All-County Team as a senior . . . Recorded 77 tackles as a senior . . . Earned Class 4A Preseason All-State recognition by the GHSF Daily . . . 2012 Georgia Sports Writers Association First Team All-State selection in Class 4A . . . . Sandy Creek Class Officer (vice president) as a senior . . . Helped lead SCHS to an 11-1-1 record, including a 7-0 region record, in 2013 . . . Recorded 99 tackles, including 13 for loss, as a junior. . . . As a junior, helped lead SCHS to an unblemished 15-0 record and Class 4A state title.

Blake Mack: 6-3, 200, Fr., WR, Lonoke

Helped lead Lonoke High School to a 9-3 record and the second round of the 4A state playoffs during senior season ... Named to 2013 Arkansas Super Team by the AP ... Made the 2014 Arkansas Activities Association East All-Star football team ... Named to the 2013 4A All-State football team by the Arkansas Activities Association ... Caught 55 passes for 815 yards and six touchdowns as a senior, while also picking up 560 yards and eight touchdowns on 58 rushes . . . Also served as a return specialist on both the punt and kick return teams for Lonoke . . . Recorded 127 receptions for 2,115 yards and 20 touchdowns during three seasons as a varsity letterman . . . Piled up 600 yards and nine touchdowns rushing during his career . . . Three-time all-conference selection . . . 3-star recruit by, which also lists him as the No. 14 overall player in the state of Arkansas ... Also plays basketball and track and field.

Chuks Ota: 6-2, 285, Fr., DT, Jonesboro

Helped lead Jonesboro High School to a 6A state playoffs semifinal appearance as a senior . . . Named to the 2013 Arkansas Super Team by the AP . . . Earned a spot on the 2014 Arkansas Activities Association East All-Star football team . . . Gained All-State recognition as a senior . . . Finished the 2013 season with 107 tackles, including 39 solo stops, 22 tackles for loss and five sacks . . . 3-star recruit and ranked as the No. 9 overall player in the state of Arkansas by . . . 3-star recruite rated as the No. 11 player in the state of Arkansas and the No. 71 defensive tackle in the nation by

Daryl Rollins-Davis: 5-9, 175, Fr.,?RB, Knoxville, Tenn. (Fulton)

Posted 1,990 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns as a senior, and also caught eight passes for 176 yards and one touchdown . . . Named Mr. Football for the state of Tennessee . . . 2013 All-State selection . . . Led Fulton to a 2013 Class 4A state championship, defeating Giles County 54-14 in the title game to complete a perfect 15-0 season . . . Rushed for 2,440 yards on 196 carries with 31 touchdowns in 2012, when he also totaled 2,774 all-purpose yards while leading Fulton High School to the Class 4A state championship . . . Rated as the No. 35 overall player in the state of Tennessee by

Kyle Strickland: 6-5, 245, Fr., DT, Brandon, Miss. (Brandon)

Helped lead Brandon High School to an 11-2 record and quarterfinal appearance in the Mississippi 6A state playoffs . . . Named to the 2013 Mississippi All-Star Team . . . All-region selection as both a junior and senior . . . Clarion-Ledger 2013 All-Metro Team selection . . . Recorded 82 total tackles, including 32 solo stops, 13 tackles for loss and seven quarterback sacks as a senior . . . As a junior, registered 105 total tackles, including 37 solo stops, nine tackles for loss and three sacks . . . Also posted along an interception and multiple fumbles forced and recovered . . . 3-star composite ranking by, which rates him as the No. 46 overall player in the state of Mississippi and the No. 81 strongside defensive end in the nation.

E.J. Sutton: 6-3, 275, Fr., DT, Schertz, Texas (Samuel Clemens)

Three-year varsity letterman and two-year starter . . . First Team All-District 27-4A as a senior . . . Helped lead Clemens High School to an 8-3 record in 2013 and its first playoff appearance in four years . . . Recorded over 60 tackles as a senior with multiple tackles for loss and forced and recovered fumbles.

James Tabary: 6-2, 195, Fr., QB, New Orleans, La. (Holy Cross)

Led Holy Cross to a combined 19-6 record (9-3 in 2013; 10-3 in 2012) as a starter and to the semifinals of the Louisiana Division I state playoffs as both a junior and senior . . . 2013 Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 5A All-State Team selection . . . Elected to Orleans Parish All-Star team as part of Lake Pontchartrain All-Star Classic . . . As a senior, completed 58.3 of his pass attempts for 2,272 yards and 16 touchdowns to only five interceptions . . . Threw for 1,808 yards with 15 touchdowns and recorded two rushing touchdowns as a junior . . . 3-star recruit ranked as the No. 64 overall player in the state of Louisiana by

*Blaise Taylor: 5-9, 170, Fr., CB, Auburn, Ala. (Auburn)

Earned Class 6A All-State recognition as an athlete in 2013, playing at the cornerback, receiver, running back and return specialist positions . . . Named an Opelika-Auburn News Super 8 Senior and named to its All-Area Team . . . Helped lead Auburn High School to its first ever state championship game appearance in 2013 . . . Senior season saw him average 24.6 yards on kickoff returns with four touchdowns, while he also posted 129 rushing yards on 16 attempts and 242 receiving yards with four touchdowns on 13 receptions . . . He tallied 25 tackles, four sacks, 13 pass break-ups and three interceptions from his cornerback position . . . Finished his junior campaign with 323 receiving yards and five touchdowns . . . 3-star recruit . . . 3-star reccruit and ranked as the No. 53 player in the state of Alabama and No. 154 athlete in the nation by . . .'s composite rankings 3-star recruit, and also listed by the Web site as the No. 34 overall player in the state of Alabama and No. 110 athlete in the nation . . . Son of Arkansas State cornerbacks coach Trooper Taylor.

Tyler Trosin: 5-11, 180, Jr., WR, Folsom, Calif. (American River (Calif.) College)

Originally signed with Oregon State in 2011 and redshirted his only season there before transferring to American River College in Sacramento, Calif. . . . Helped lead ARC to an 8-3 record in 2013, recording 825 yards total offense for a 75.0 yard average per game . . . Finished the season with 1,757 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns . . . recording 30 receptions for 500 yards and six touchdowns . . . Posted 550 kickoff return yards and a touchdown on 22 opportunities, averaging 25.0 yards per return with a long of 89 yards . . . Attempted 18 punt returns for 382 yards and a touchdown, averaging 21.2 yards per attempt with a long return of 94 yards . . . Returned a punt for a touchdown . . . Earned First Team All-America recognition by the JC?Athletic Bureau and the CCCFCA as a return specialist . . . Named First Team All-Valley Conference wide receiver . . . Prior to signing with Oregon State, played at Folsom High School . . . Led Folsom to a 14-1 record and the CIF-Division II championship . . . In the title game, he caught three touchdown passes after making two scoring receptions in the CIF state playoff game the previous week . . . Delta River League Co-MVP and First Team All-Sac-Joaquin Section . . . ranked him the 27th best receiver in the country . . . As a junior he was the area's leading receiver with 81 catches for 1,446 yards and 25 touchdowns . . . In 2009 he was the Delta River League Co-Offensive Player of the Year, first team All-Sac-Joaquin Section and All-Metro . . . Played safety, wide receiver, running back and quarterback during high school . . . Excellent track athlete, running sprints, relays and competing in the long jump . . . Also played basketball.

*A.J. Turner: 6-2, 210, So., LB, Lepanto (University of Arkansas)

University of Arkansas transfer who signed with Arkansas State midyear and will be able to participate in spring practices . . . Redshirted the 2013 season at Arkansas after appearing in all 12 games, including the final six as a starter, during his true freshman season in 2012 . . . Named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after recording 53 tackles, the fifth-highest total on the team, including 3.5 tackles for loss with 1.0 sack . . . Recorded a career-high 12 tackles, with a career-high 1.5 for loss, in the 2012 season finale vs. No. 8 LSU . . . Tallied 10 tackles versus Ole Miss in his second career start . . . Made his collegiate debut in a season-opening 49-24 victory vs. Jacksonville State and had one tackle . . . Made seven tackles at Texas A&M and had five stops in his first start, a 49-7 win versus Kentucky . . . Registered seven tackles, with 1.0 for loss, in a 19-15 win vs. Tulsa . . . Posted six tackles, including 1.0 sack, at No. 12 South Carolina and made five stops at Mississippi State . . . Highly decorated linebacker at East Poinsett County High School prior to signing with Arkansas . . . No. 2 ranked player in Arkansas and 33rd-ranked outside linebacker in the nation by, which also listed him as a 4-star recruit . . . No. 4 ranked player in the state and 47th-ranked outside linebacker in the country by, and the 35th-rated outside linebacker by . . . As a two-way player for EPC, he made his mark on both sides of the ball and was named to the Arkansas Super Team by the Associated Press at linebacker . . . Collected 205 tackles, including 30 in one game, with 24 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one interception as a senior in 2011 when the Warriors advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals and finished the season 11-1 . . . As a junior, recorded 171 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, forced five fumbles and intercepted one pass in addition to scoring 21 touchdowns on offense . . . Caught 30 passes for 670 yards and 11 touchdowns and gained 457 yards and 10 touchdowns on 63 rushes as EPC played in the second round of the state playoffs . . . Also played basketball and helped the Warriors win the state championship in 2011.

Nehemiah Wagner: 6-0, 170, Fr., CB, Mesquite, Texas (Horn)

Helped lead the Jaguars to a 9-3 record and second round playoff appearance during senior season . . . Recorded 28 tackles, including 21 solo tackles, to go along with nine passes defended, three interceptions, two tackles for loss, and one fumble forced . . . Named to the 12-5A All-District First Team Defense . . ., and 3-star recruit . . . Rated as the No. 76 and No. 74 cornerback in the nation by and, respectively. . . . Ranked as the No. 74 cornerback in the nation by ESPN . . . Member of VYPE's 2014 Top 100 Dallas-Fort Worth recruits.


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