After adding eight mid-year transfers Dec. 18, University of Central Arkansas Nathan Brown and his staff welcomed 15 high schoolers into the program Wednesday.
In total, this year’s recruiting class totals 23 on the first day of the NCAA national signing period from seven different states.
Eight student-athletes are staying in Arkansas to go to UCA, while the Bears are getting five from Texas and Mississippi each.
Two student-athletes are coming from Florida, while Alabama, Tennessee and Colorado are contributing one each.
Offensive line recruits come in as the largest signing group during this period with four defensive backs, three defensive lineman, two running backs, two wide receiver, two linebackers and one each at quarterback, long-snapper, athlete, tight end and punter.
Among the eight mid-year transfers, five are coming from junior colleges, while three are coming from the high school level.
Safety Christian Cain is coming from Northwest (Mississippi) Community College, defensive tackle Jalen Bedell is coming from Copiah Lincoln (Mississippi) Community College, cornerback Kamryn Cuevas is coming from Kilgore (Texas) College, Punter Seren Hughes-Ford as well as long-snapper Justin Keijers are coming from Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College.
High school mid-year transfers are running back Derrick “Deuce” Wise from Fort Smith Northside, offensive lineman William Mayo from Sylvan Hills and offensive lineman Derek Haupt from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida.
Wednesdays signees include quarterback Hunter Loyd (Rogers), running back Trysten Smith (Duncanville High School, Duncanville, Texas), wide receiver Jared Long (Heritage Academy, Columbus, Mississippi), wide receiver Chris Hightower (Little Rock Christian), tight end Haze Denton (Conway), offensive lineman Japan Henderson (Everman, Everman, Texas), offensive lineman Bakarius Collier (West Helena Central), offensive lineman Justin Lairy (Madison Central, Madison, Mississippi), defensive end Jamal Mull (Northwest, Clarksville, Tennessee), outside linebacker/bandit Jy’Kevious Hibbler (Louisville, Louisville, Mississippi), defensive tackle J’Mani Gibson (Fort Bend Travis, Houston, Texas), linebacker Kendarrius Moore (West Memphis), safety Tamuarion Wilson (Bryant), cornerback Laquez Embry (Minor, Adamsville, Alabama) and athlete Myles Kitt-Denton (Dawson, Pearland, Texas).
UCA head football coach Nathan Brown said there were two key factors for this recruiting class.
“It’s an exciting group,” Brown said. “We had a great year last year, but what is going to help us push to the next level? What’s going to make us make a push deep into December? It’s size, one, but it’s also speed. It’s not hard for UCA to get speed. We’ve proven that year in and year out. That’s something we feel like we can hang our hat on year in and year out. The first thing we wanted to get was size. Guys that are already physically big or can eat their way to be physically big. They have the frame to be big.”
Cain was a MJCAA All-State selection, a Rivals 2-star prospect and a three-time Northwest defensive player of the week.
During his sophomore season, he recorded 67 tackles and four interceptions.
Jalen Bedell was named to a the All-MACJC Second Team, a Topps rated junior college defensive lineman, a 247 listed prospect and 2019 Trench Award recipient.
In his sophomore season, he recorded 38 tackles, nine tackles for loss and four sacks.
Cuevas is a 247 and a Rivals listed prospect, a Texas NJCAA Defensive Back Hot 25 and a two-time Kilgore defensive player of the week.
During his sophomore year, he recorded 41 tackles and three interceptions.
He received offers from Lamar and Western Illinois.
Hughes-Ford is a first-team All-Jayhawk League punter and a Kohl’s rated punter.
He redshirted at the University of Colorado before heading to Coffeyville.
As a freshman, he averaged 41.6 yards per punt, while getting touchbacks on 80 percent of his kickoffs.
His snapping mate Keijers is an All-Jayhawk league snapper and a 5-star rated long-snapper.
Wise is a 247 3-star prospect, a Rivals 3-star prospect and the Hootens Magazine 12th rated prospect.
He was ranked 170th in the state by 247 and the 12th ranked prospect in Arkansas, according to 247.
He was the 7A West back of the year in 2019 and a Landers Award Finalist in 2019.
During his high school career, he totaled 6,200 and 56 total touchdowns.
He received offers from Missouri State and Arkansas Pine Bluff.
Mayo is a 247 and Rivals listed prospect as well as a Hootens Top 20 prospect.
He was named to the 5A Arkansas Activities Association All-State team in 2018 and 2019 as well as a AAA all-star selection.
He received other offers from UT-Martin, Southeast Missouri and Eastern Illinois.
Haupt is a 247 and Rivals listed prospect as well as an Orlando Sun All-District selection in 2019 and an 8A District 5 first-team selection in 2019.
He is listed as Orlando’s top offensive lineman.
Loyd is a 247 and Rivals 3-star prospect, as well as the 14th rated player in Arkansas by 247.
He was rated as the 38th best dual threat quarterback in the country by 247 as well as Hootens’ 11th rated prospect in Arkansas.
He was a AAA 7A all-state selection in 2018 and 2019 as well as the VYPE top-rated quarterback in Arkansas.
He was named as a Hero Sports Top 10 FCS quarterback prospect in the country.
In 2019, he threw for 3,033 yards and 33 touchdowns and for his career, he threw for 7,643 yards and 75 touchdowns.
Smith is a 247 and Rivals 3-star prospect. He was a 6A Region 1 District 8 Offensive Player of the Year and Back of the Year, as well as the 2019 SportsDay News Newcomer of the Year.
He is ranked as Hero Sports’ third ranked FCS running back recruit in the country.
In 2019, he rushed for 1,816 yards and 30 touchdowns, while amassing 3,841 yards and 61 touchdowns during his high school career.
Long was the MAIS 5A District 1 Player of the Year as well as an all-state selection in 2018 and 2019.
He was the Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year, a MS Gridiron Prep 50 player and a Hero Sports top 10 FCS wide receiver prospect.
Ini 2019, he caught 54 balls for 1,080 yards and 11 touchdowns, while amassing 112 catches for 2,290 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Hightower is a 247 and Rivals 3-star prospect. He was a Hootens Player of the Year finalist in 2019 as well as an Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year finalist in 2019.
He is a Hero Sports top 5 wide receiver prospect.
In 2019, he caught 56 passes for 1,074 yards and 12 touchdowns on the offensive end, while recording 92 tackles and two interceptions.
Denton was named to the 7A Central All-Conference list in 2018 and 2019 as well as an all-state selection in 2019.
He was also a MaxPreps All-Arkansas selection in 2019 and a Faulkner County Prep Selection.
Henderson was named to the 5A-2 Region II District 5 team in 2018 and 2019 as well as a member of the Fort Worth Star Telegram All-Prep second team.
He was also a two-time Dallas Commercial Record Player of the Week.
Collier was a Hootens Top 30 prospect, an AAA 4A All-State selection in 2018 and 2019, the 4A Region 8 Lineman of the Year in 2019 and an AAA All-Star selection.
Lairy was a 6A Region 2 All-District member in 2019 as well as a 6A All-State Honorable Mention.
He was a first-team all-Metro selection as well as a Madison County Journal Dream Team selection, a Maxpreps Mississippi Second Team member and a Clarion Ledger All-Prep Preseason team member in 2019.
Mull was a 5A Region 7 All-Region team member in 2018 and 2019, the 5A Region 7 Lineman of the Year, a member of the 5A Region 7 All-Academic Team, a Montgomery County first team member in 2018 and 2019 and an Elite Raw Talent All-American Bowl selection.
In 2019, he recorded 73 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and one interception.
Hibbler was a 4A Regional All-District team member in 2018 and 2019, the 4A Region 4 Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and a 4A MHAA All-State First Team selection.
In 2019, he recorded 61 tackles, 15 sacks and 25 tackles for loss, while amassing 119 tackles, 27.5 sacks and 46.5 tackles for loss.
Gibson was a 6A Region 3 District 20 Defensive Player of the Year, a Region 3 District 20 First Team selection in 2019, an Fort Bend Daily First Team selection in 2019 and a KHOU Prep 150 Team.
In 2019, Gibson recorded 45 tackles, six sacks and 17 tackles for loss.
Moore is a 3-star prospect, the eighth rated Arkansas prospect, a VYPE Arkansas top-rated linebacker, a AAA 6A All-State selection in 2018 and 2019, a 6A East Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.
In 2019, he recorded 70 tackles, four sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two interceptions, while amassing 189 tackles, seven sacks, 32.5 tackles for loss and six interceptions.
Wilson was a 7A Central All-Conference selection in 2018 and 2019, a AAA 7A All-State selection in 2018 and 2019.
A VYPE Arkansas top rated safety, an All-Arkansas Team selection by Arkansas Democrat Gazette, AAA all-star selection.
In 2019, he recorded 41 tackles, three sacks, 12 tackles for loss, one interception and one pass breakup.
Embry is a NCSA All-District selection in 2019, a 6A Region 5 All-District selection in 2019, a BBB Adamsville Dream Team selection, a Star selection defensive back in 2018 and 2019 and the Minor High School Most Valuable Player in 2019.
In 2019, he recorded 40 tackles, four interceptions and 11 pass breakups.
Kitt-Denton was District 23-6A Most Valuable Player, a District 23-6A team member in 2018 and 2019 and a 6A TXHSAA All-State Honorable Mention.
In 2019, he recorded 2,300 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns.