Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
It’s that time of year again folks. National Signing Day 2017 has come and for the Blue Raider, it’s done as the team wrapped up their class by 10:15. Junior college transfers, help in the secondary, some offensive firepower, in-state talent, and some last minute signing day drama all came to fold for the coaching staff in Murfreesboro this morning.
The Raiders had already inked five early enrollees with three of them being on the defensive side of the football. MT gave up an average of 250.8 yards a game through the air last year which was in the bottom third of all FBS programs.
Safety Wesley Bush and Cornerback Kamau Farrell-Burke look to be two guys in position to do something about that this season. Bush joins fellow upcoming juniors Darryl Randolph and Jovante Moffatt deep in the Blue Raider secondary this year and is sure to challenge for a starting spot.
The ball hawking Bush had 33 tackles to go along with five interceptions, three forced fumbles and five pass breakups for Northwest Mississippi Community College this past fall. Kamau Farrell-Burke comes to MT at a great time with Jeremy Cutrer departing (graduation) and three other corners on the roster coming up on their senior seasons. Farrell-Burke has great size for a corner at 6-foot-2 and will provide new defensive coordinator Scott Shafer with a great option to throw in the game in a man coverage situation.
Bush and Farrell-Burke are not the only ones that will be coming to help out in the secondary this year. Cody Smith, Reed Blankenship, and DQ Thomas bring three more safeties to the table for the Blue Raiders.
Thomas actually committed to MTSU Tuesday after receiving offers from Mississippi State, South Alabama, and Florida Atlantic. Smith exhibits great ball skills and does a good job playing downhill to make plays in the run game. Blankenship has a knack for diagnosing plays quickly after the snap and shows great open field tackling ability, which should give him a good shot at getting some playing time on special teams.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Blue Raiders have added some big names to help carry their present offensive success into the future. Possibly the biggest name in this year’s class is wideout Zack Dobson of Fulton High School (Knoxville,TN). The 5-foot-9 Dobson more than makes up for his height with great speed and route running skills.
In 2016, Dobson hauled in 71 receptions, averaging 19.9 yards per catch for 1,411 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Coming into the ‘Boro to possibly vacate the running back spot left behind by I’tavius Mathers will be Maurice Gordon and Brad Anderson.
Gordon, an early enrollee, averaged 100.3 ypg at Navarro Junior College (Corsicana,TX) and Anderson is an athlete that can fly with a 40-yard dash time of 4.42. Both should give Ruben Garnett and Terelle West a challenge this year.
The Raiders inked seven of their 20 players in this class today from the state of Tennessee. Locally, they added 3-star quarterback John Turner from Smyrna High School and offensive Lineman Elijah Dobbins from Oakland High School. Turner will become one of three quarterbacks on the Middle Tennessee roster from Rutherford County as he joins Brent Stockstill (Siegel High School) and Miller Armstrong (Blackman High School).
Dobbins will be lining up against former high school teammate Ty Nix in practice to bring a little bit of RUCO flavor to the trenches. Inside linebacker Chaton Mobley (Fulton High School, Knoxville, TN) will join teammate Zack Dobson as the two former state champs will look to continue their success in the blue and white uniforms.
The class was all officially signed by 10:15 am Wednesday morning, with the Raiders having five that were not on the verbal commitment list coming into the day.
The first to note is corner Raheem Fuller. Fuller was committed to MT until Jan. 28 when he de-committed and gave a verbal to FIU. The rollercoaster continued Wednesday as Fuller ended up flipping his commitment once more to come back to MTSU. Fuller brings another tall corner to this secondary that will certainly help out against taller receivers.
Outside Linebacker Tavares Thomas chose MTSU over conference rivals UTEP and North Texas. Thomas joins Maurice Gordon as the second player in this class from Navarro College (Corsicana, TX).
Safety Wayne Parks chose MTSU after committing to Bowling Green on June 12, 2016. Park’s linebacker type build will give Scott Shafer a great option of an extra guy to put in the box in short yardage situations.
Wide Reciever Tavonn Salter is coming back to the state of Tennessee after a stint with Mt. San Antonio Community College in California. Salter played his freshman season with UT-Martin, so Salter will look to impress in his first year at the FBS level.
The last, but certainly not the least of these late signees, was OJ Johnson. Johnson played the past two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and had 26 tackles to go along with five pass breakups and two interceptions.
MTSU’s complete 2017 recruiting class:
|CB||3||6-3||180||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|OT||3||6-5||270||Mount Juliet, TN|
|CB||6-2||180||Stone Mountain, GA|