|Hot on recruiting trail|
|J.C. Smith has needs on offensive, defenisve lines|
|Published Thursday, February 6, 2014 6:43 am|
Johnson C. Smith’s recruiting focus is on the line.
|Johnson C. Smith receiver Chris Patterson, who led the Golden Bulls in receptions (54), yards (741) and tied for the team lead with five touchdowns, graduates in the spring. With Patterson and fellow senior Terrell Hutchinson (28 catches, 290 yards, 1 TD) leaving, JCSU will look to restock the position.|
The Golden Bulls, who went 5-5 – their third straight season of .500 or better since 1974 – have major holes to fill up front when recruits can sign National Letters of Intent. JCSU’s offense, which averaged 30.1 points a game last season, is in remake mode with four seniors graduating. The defensive front four is a mirror image with one returning starter.
Four starters graduate in May, including center George Orr, a master at adjusting blocking schemes and all-CIAA right tackle Rico Arellano, a four-year starter.
The receiving corps also faces a makeover with Chris Patterson and Terrell Hutchinson graduating as well. Tight end Jimmy Drye and backup Joshua Grant are gone, too.
Defensively, JCSU rolled up 44 sacks in only 10 games, including a school-record 14 against Davidson, but struggled to stop opponents in the second half of the season when the Golden Bulls went 1-4. They’ll be in the hunt for tackles, where only junior Jabari Carney is the only returnee among the top four rotation players. The situation at end is equally thin with junior Jovantay Williams the only returnee among the top four.
The linebacker corps returns two of three starters, but the secondary could be in for changes after allowing 15.1 yards per completion.
Here’s the areas of greatest need going into Signing Day.
Line: This may be the most critical area for the Golden Bulls recruiting class. Four starters – left tackle Cameron Ransom, Orr at center, right guard Kevin Billups and Arellano (Butler High) at left tackle are gone. So are backups Jermaine Foster (left tackle) and Darius Jones (center). The competition to get into the rotation will be fierce, so it’s unlikely a freshman will be able to earn a starter’s role.
• Receiver: Patterson led JCSU in catches (54), receiving yards (741) and tied for the most touchdowns with five. Hutchinson was a big target who could move the chains. The incumbents are Fred Scott and Avius Capers (Independence High), smaller receivers who each scored five touchdowns last year. Offensive coordinator Steve Shipp likes big targets, but can he land a weapon that complements Scott’s speed?
• Quarterback: Keahn Wallace and Andrew Alexander (Ardrey Kell High) will be seniors next year, so the clock is ticking on an heir apparent.
DeAndre Patterson, who joined the program last year, mostly sat as a freshman.
• Line: Gaping openings on this unit, which averaged 4.4 sacks per game. Ends Dylan Steele, Justin Smith and Chris Randolph are graduating, which leaves all-conference pick Jovantay Williams (11 sacks) as the top returnee. Jabari Carney is the top returning incumbent at tackle with Darius Robinson, Eric Conner and Leon Minto out of eligibility.
• Linebacker: The Golden Bulls are set in the middle with Jerel Miller and backup Anthony Allen going into their senior campaigns.
Sophomore Austin Jacques returns to one outside position, but the other is up for grabs with Maurice Gibbs and Darius Wallace graduating.
• Secondary: Cornerback Damion Miles is graduating, but Deandre Jones and J.P Lott return to the fold. Both safety positions return 2013 starters Frantz Charles (strong) and Kerry Hartley (free) as well as their backups.
• Special teams: Erik Amaya (kicker) and Matias Lambrecht (punter) return for their sophomore seasons.
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