Following a nine-win season and a co-Southland Conference championship, the University of Central Arkansas signed 15 players on opening day of the early signing period, but only eight were formally announced by the school. Five of those are junior-college transfers and will enroll early next month.
The eight announced signees were safety Christian Cain, cornerback Kamryn Cuevas, defensive tackle Jalen Bedell, running back Derrick Wise, offensive linemen William Mayo and Derek Haupt, punter Seren Hughes-Ford and long snapper Justin Keijers.
Cain, Cuevas, Bedell, Hughes-Ford and Keijers are junior-college signees. Wise was a three-star prospect from Fort Smith Northside and grayshirted his first semester; Mayo attended Sylvan Hills and was all-state the last two seasons; and Haupt hails from Orlando, Fla.
"I think we hit areas of need," UCA Coach Nathan Brown said. "We needed to get physically bigger here at UCA, and you see that with William Mayo and Derek Haupt ... and then Jalen Bedell from Copiah-Lincoln [Mississippi] Community College.
"You look at just the overall physical size of the kids that we're bringing in in January, and that's what jumps out at you."
Punter and long snapper, normally position afterthoughts, but spots where UCA has holes with senior punter Taylor Wallace and senior long snapper Reiv Wood departing. Hughes-Ford and Keijers each are from Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College and have three years of eligibility.
"That's two big spots that you don't think about them til you need them," Brown said. "Those guys are gonna walk in and be starters the second they walk on campus."
Brown said Cain could be an immediate difference maker next season. Cain, 6-2, 200 pounds, comes from Northwest Mississippi Community College.
"He's got the physical size to play in the box, to be a tackle guy, but he also has the length to be a cover guy," Brown said. "Very excited about what he brings to the table. He was a kid that was very, very highly recruited by a lot of schools and ended up trusting us and jumping on board with us, so that was big."
Brown said UCA isn't done with its 2020 class. The other seven players of the 15 who signed Wednesday will be announced on national signing day in February, and the Bears could sign another five to seven players then, Brown said. Secondary, wide receiver, offensive line and quarterback are areas of need.
Golden Lions add 3
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff inked three players -- all junior-college transfers -- to its 2020 class on Wednesday.
Offensive lineman Erik McElroy, running back Kylan Herrera and defensive lineman Daelyn Moses-Dunn were announced by the school.
McElroy comes from Independence (Kansas) Community College; Herrera is from Navarro College (Texas); and Moses-Dunn hails from Southwestern College (California). All three are expected to enroll early next month.
"These were not guys that were coming in with the mindset of trying to be 'I,' " UAPB Coach Cedric Thomas said. "[They were] 'we' guys. They were guys that wanted to come in and be a part of what we got going on."
Herrera, in particular, is a much-needed addition following the departure of senior running back Taeyler Porter, who finished as the Southwestern Athletic Conference's third-leading rusher with 1,027 yards, while scoring 12 touchdowns.
Thomas said Herrera, who's 5-11, 180 pounds, can play in the backfield and at receiver and is a natural playmaker.
"With Taeyler Porter leaving, we wanted to keep that home run tendency, that home run opportunity," Thomas said. "We looked far and wide for a kid that could carry it 30 times if need be, but also get in some empty package and be able to cause matchup [issues] with linebackers and safeties, and that's what he did."
Thomas said he expects to take about 10 total players in the 2020 class, leaving several spots open for February.
Sports on 12/19/2019
Print Headline: UCA delves into junior college ranks