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University of Central Arkansas football Coach Nathan Brown said his team needed to get stronger in two key areas during the 2020 recruiting cycle -- the offensive line and secondary.

During the early signing period in December, four of UCA's eight announced signees fit those position groups -- two offensive linemen, a safety and a cornerback.

At a glance



Christian Cain 6-2 200 S Grenada, Miss. (Northwest [Miss.] CC*

Jalen Bedell 6-2 315 DT Greenwood, Miss. (Copiah Lincoln [Miss.] CC*

Kamryn Cuevas 5-11 190 CB Gilmer, Texas (Kilgore [Texas] College)*

S. Hughes-Ford 6-4 200 P Fort Collins, Colo. (Coffeyville [Kan.] CC)*

Justin Keijers 6-1 210 LS Valrico, Fla. (Coffeyville [Kan.] CC)*

Derrick Wise 5-10 190 RB Fort Smith (Fort Smith Northside)*

William Mayo 6-5 325 OL Sherwood (Sylvan Hills)*

Derek Haupt 6-4 300 OL Orlando, Fla. (Orlando Dr. Phillips)

Hunter Loyd 6-3 200 QB Rogers (Rogers)

Trysten Smith 5-10 215 RB Duncanville, Texas (Duncanville)

Jared Long 6-3 190 WR Columbus, Miss. (Columbus Heritage Academy)

Chris Hightower 6-2 195 WR Little Rock (Little Rock Christian)

Haze Denton 6-3 250 TE Conway (Conway)

Jalan Henderson 6-2 285 OL Everman, Texas (Everman)

Bakarius Collier 6-5 295 OL Helena-West Helena (Helena-West Helena)

Justin Lairy 6-4 285 OL Madison, Miss. (Madison Central)

Jamal Mull 6-6 260 DE Clarksville, Tenn. (Clarksville Northwest)

Jy’Kevious Hibbler 6-2 225 OLB Louisville, Miss. (Louisville)

J’Mani Gibson 6-3 325 DT Houston (Fort Bend Travis)

Kendarrius Moore 6-0 215 LB West Memphis (West Memphis)

Tamuarion Wilson 6-2 205 S Bryant (Bryant)

Laquez Embry 6-2 180 CB Adamsville, Ala. (Adamsville Minor)

Myles Kitt-Denton 6-1 185 ATH Pearland, Texas (Pearland Dawson)

*Signed in December

On Wednesday, the Bears formally announced 15 more additions to the class, bringing the total number to 23. Of those 15 new players, three were offensive linemen (Jalan Henderson, Bakarius Collier and Justin Lairy) and two were defensive backs (Tamuarion Wilson and Laquez Embry).

"[We] really solidified those positions with good size -- guys that are gonna grow and be big guys in the next couple years -- and then also speed, especially from the skill positions," Brown said. "You got to have speed to be able to make runs in the ... playoffs, and I think we addressed that today."

Brown said eight of the 15 newly announced players signed their national letters of intent Wednesday during national signing day. The remaining seven quietly signed with the school during the early signing period in December, but UCA held off on making those announcements official until Wednesday.

"I think we ended up with a really good class," Brown said. "To me, it compares to the freshman class we signed last year, which has proven to be a pretty special class."

Other notable additions Wednesday included three-star linebacker Kendarrius Moore, three-star wide receiver Chris Hightower and three-star dual-threat quarterback Hunter Loyd -- all three of whom were rated inside the state's top 15 overall players, per 247Sports. In total, eight of UCA's 23 signees are Arkansas natives.

Moore, a West Memphis product, stands 6-0, 215 pounds and is rated as Arkansas' 10th-best prospect. Hightower, who hails from Little Rock Christian, is 6-2, 195, and rated 14th in the state.

Hightower played both ways in high school, but Brown said he'll play wide receiver at UCA.

"I think he's probably the most natural in that position," Brown said. "He's a big, physical kid. His best football is ahead of him. He's got the frame to be a really physical receiver, especially at our level, but possesses enough speed that he can really out run guys, and he proved that in high school at Little Rock Christian."

Loyd, a 6-3, 200-pounder and the state's 15th-rated player, graduated from Rogers High School, where he played for his father, Mike.

"His upside is enormous," Brown said. "If he has to, he can run, and [he] possesses a really quick release and can get the ball from Point A to Point B about as good as anybody I saw in the state over the last couple years."

Sports on 02/06/2020

Print Headline: Bears tackle offensive line, secondary


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