NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team signed 21 high school standouts to National Letters of Intent, and added three transfers two-time SLC Coach of the Year J.C. Harper announced at a media luncheon Wednesday afternoon. The 2011 class consists of 12 players on the defensive side, 11 offensive players and a specialist.
"I am very excited about this incoming class," said head coach J.C. Harper. "It is very balanced, in terms of incoming talent on both sides of the ball. We have brought in a group of guys who want to continue the winning tradition here at SFA. We have posted a 19-6 record over the past two seasons, and won back-to-back conference titles and these young men are very talented individuals who want to be a part of that success. We are blessed to have a lot of leaders on this team, and my staff and I look forward to coaching this incoming class as we aim for a third-straight conference title."
With key losses on the defensive side of the ball, and the graduation of 2010 Walter Payton Award winner Jeremy Moses at quarterback, the 2011 class focused on some critical needs. Having lost three of four starters on the defensive line due to attrition, the Lumberjacks bulked up their line with the addition of two signees, and three transfers.
The Lumberjacks also shored up the future at quarterback with the addition of three signal callers. The 2011 class of quarterbacks consists of Daingerfield's Tyler Boyd, Joe Minden (Coppell, Texas) and Stevie Douglass (Clinton, La.).
SFA has also remedied a potential need on defense before it became a serious issue. All-American linebacker Jabara Williams is the lone 2010 starter to exhaust his eligibility, but SFA will graduate two more starters following the '11 campaign. The 'Jacks filled this need with the addition of three prospects.
"Through the 2010 regular season, we had the Southland Conference's top defense," said Harper. "We believe the individuals that we have coming in on the defensive side of the ball will help us stay at the top of the conference. They have seen the success that players like Jabara Williams and Devin Ducote have had on a national level, and they want to add to that."
In addition to the five linemen and three linebackers, the latest crop of signees also includes four defensive backs. Offensively, the Lumberjacks have signed three quarterbacks, three receivers, three offensive linemen and two running backs. Harper also added Jordan Wiggs from South Grand Prairie to shore up the kicking game.
Since Harper's arrival, the Lumberjacks have built the foundation of their conference championship teams based on East Texas talent. The SFA coaching staff added 10 East Texas standouts to the 2011 roster. The East Texas players include Jabralon Allen (Frankston), Jamal Allen (Frankston), Christopher Bailey (Diboll), Boyd (Daingerfield), Nicholas Bryant (Beaumont), LeFredrick Ford (Kirbyville), Marvin Gray (Tyler), Gus Johnson (Gilmer), Marquis Mosley (Tyler) and Trey Vallier (Henderson).
"We have also signed a quality group of East Texas players," said Harper. "There is a sense of pride among players in this area. They are proud to represent East Texas when it comes to football, and we are the university of East Texas. They see the success former East Texas players have had, and that becomes infectious. They come here because we are winning championships."
SFA also brought in two highly sought after running backs to bolster its backfield. Both East Texas natives, Ford and Johnson bring big-time credentials with them to Nacogdoches. A two-star recruit by Rivals.com, Ford rushed for nearly 5,000 yards and 64 touchdowns during his prep career. A late addition to the class, Johnson is a three-star recruit who is ranked as the nation's 42nd-best back in the country.