The University of Central Arkansas Bears added four junior college football players this week on the first day of the mid-year signing period.
The newest Bears include defensive back Michael Ware, linebacker Reggio Dean, wide receiver Lester Wells and defensive lineman Jim Philistin.
"We feel like these four guys can come in and fill some immediate needs for us, at positions where we graduated some guys who were impact players," said UCA head coach Steve Campbell, who led the Bears to a 10-3 record and into the second round of the FCS Playoffs this season in his third year at the helm.
Ware, from Vicksburg, Miss., is transferring from Southwest Mississippi Community College (Summit, Miss.) where he was a first-team All-Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges (MACJC) selection as a sophomore. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound safety led his team in tackles with 82, had three tackles for loss, 14 pass breakups and a forced fumble. As a freshman, Ware had 51 tackles. He attended Warren Central High School and was a two-time All-District selection as a junior and senior.
"Ware is a big-time playmaker at safety," Campbell said. "He was a first-team all-state guy in the Mississippi junior college league, so that means he’s a player. Jaylen Lofton came in at semester and made an impact this past year and we’re expecting Michael to come in and be that kind of impact guy as well."
Dean is a 5-11, 200-pound linebacker from Laurel, Miss. As a sophomore at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Perkinston, Miss.) he had 36 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two interceptions and was named first-team All-MACJC, All-Region and Region 23 Most Valuable Player. He was named this week as a second-team NJCAA All-American. Dean was a three-time MACJC Defensive Player of the Week and was named to the second-team All-South Division of the MACJC as a freshman. Dean attended Northeast Jones High School where he was an All-State selection and had 1,900 rushing yards.
"Reggio Dean will come in at linebacker and fill a hole that was left by the departure of Garrett Sharp,’"said Campbell. "Reggio was a playmaker at Gulf Coast, and All-Star and an outstanding performer there.’
Wells is a 5-11, 180-pound wide receiver, also transferring from MGCCC. He led the Bulldogs with 52 receptions for 736 yards last season as a sophomore and wsa a second-team All-MACJC selection. As a freshman, Wells had 30 receptions for 416 yards and three touchdowns and was named All-South Division. Wells attended Adams County Christian School in Natchez, Miss., where he had 62 receptions for more than 1,000 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior.
"We lost Jatavious Wilson, who was an explosive playermaker at wide receiver and we think Lester can fill that spot,’ said Campbell, who coached 10 years at MGCCC before coming to UCA. "Gulf Coast had three receivers sign with D-I schools in Arkansas. Two signed with Arkansas and one with us, and ours was their leading receiver. He had more receptions and more yards than the two that went to the Razorbacks. So he should come in and make an immediate impact for us."
Philistin is a 6-2, 270-pound interior defensive lineman from Highland (Kan.) Community College. As a sophomore, Philistin had 46 tackles, 4.5 sacks for minus 33 yards and three tackles for loss. Philistin is from West Palm Beach, Fla., where he played at Park Vista High School. He was the teams’ Most Valuable Player and had 73 tackles and five forced fumbles.
"On the defensive line, we lost Terrence Partee, Jordan Toliver and Dawson Hadnot,’ said Campbell. "So we’ll be counting on Jim Philistin to come in and help shore up our defensive line where we lost some outstanding players on the inside. He’s a playmaker, explosive off the ball, uses his hands well. He will be an impact player for us."