The mantra for the 2020 signing class for University of Central Arkansas football coach Nathan Brown and his staff is “size and speed.”
In many cases during Wednesday night’s introduction to the upcoming class at UCA Downtown, Brown either said in regards to size, these guys are either already there or can make their way into bigger sizes than they already are.
Just of the mid-year guys the Bears signed Brown said of safety Christian Cain “has a lot of length.”
Of defensive tackle Jalen Bedell, who is 6-foot-2, 315 pounds, Brown said he plays like he’s 285.
Of punter Seren Hughes-Ford, Brown said he has a long body type and one that is prototypical of an NFL punter, but also said “he can grow into a bigger kid.”
Of Hughes-Ford’s long-snapper at Coffeyville Community College Justin Keijers, Brown said he’s a “true weight room guy” and is a “great body guy.”
Brown said incoming freshman running back Derrick “Deuce” Wise is “elusive in the open field” and is “pretty fast.”
About incoming freshman offensive lineman William Mayo and Derek Haupt, Brown said they “have the size you are looking for.”
Incoming freshmen quarterback Hunter Loyd is a “gym rat,” running back Trysten Smith is “very compact,” wide receiver Jared Long is a “big-frame kid with big-play capability,” offensive lineman Japan Henderson is a “tough, hard-nosed kid with athletic ability.” Conway’s Haze Denton will transition from playing offensive line to tight at UCA, where Brown said “you need physical play at tight end” when talking about Denton.
When talking about incoming freshmen offensive linemen Bakarius Collier and Justin Lairy, Brown said they have the same body type with Collier standing at 6-5, weighing 295, while Lairy stands at 6-4, wiggling 285.
Brown called Lairy a “true tackle,” which you could probably make that connection with Collier as well.
Defensive end Jamal Mull has “the size you’re looking for” at 6-6, 260. Brown said he is a “tremendous athlete on the defensive line and compared his body to former Bear defensive lineman Jonathan Woodard.
Defensive tackle J’Mani Gibson has the same body type of current junior defensive tackle A’Javious Brown as Gibson stands at 6-3, 325 and A’Javious stands at 6-2, 320.
Safety Tamuarion Wilson is a “big young man” at 6-2, 205 with a “motor” and “great instincts.”
Cornerback Laquez Embry has length, size and speed at 6-2, 180.
Athlete Myles Kitt-Denton is one of the “fastest guys we’ve seen” after running a 100-yard time of 10.5 as a Texas All-State Track selection.
Brown said he “already has the speed and can be an NFL corner.”
Those are high praises for a program that is coming off a share of the Southland Conference Championship and a national seed in the FCS playoffs.
Brown has stated many times that size and speed are key to having success.
And, some of the guys that the Bears had commit during this period chose UCA over FBS programs.
That should speak to the success of the program and how it plans to continue that success.
Bedell was recruited by South Alabama, where former UCA coach Steve Campbell is the head coach.
Bedell was also recruited by Louisiana-Monroe; Loyd was recruited by Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe; Smith was recruited by Kansas, Liberty, University of Texas at San Antonio, Army and Navy; Long was recruited by University of Alabama at Birmingham, South Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe; wide receiver Chris Hightower was recruited by Kansas, Liberty, Memphis, Tulane, Southern Methodist and Louisiana-Monroe; Gibson was recruited by Houston; and Kendarrius Moore was recruited by Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Arkansas State, UTSA, Liberty, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette.
While the higher up FCS teams are always going to battle with FBS programs, it’s encouraging for UCA and fans alike that these guys chose this program over others at the FBS level is also a testament to the Bears program.
While many of these guys may not make an immediate impact for UCA, I’m sure we’ll see the fruits of the coaching staff’s labor as the years pass.
When talking about recruiting, Brown always says, “it’s at an all-time high.”
While the complete rankings haven’t reached 247 Sports or Hero Sports, I’m sure this class also ranks high much like last year’s class.
Spring football for the Bears begins March 2 with Super Bear Saturday occurring April 4.