Seth Littrell mentioned in his press conference that he wanted to focus on defense a little after working to build the offense. The haul for February is small because of the roster situatoin. Litrell said he expects next year’s class to be 23-24 players.
For more on the December signings read this post.
Tim Faison – LB 6’2″ 225 from Tallahassee, Florida (Independence CC)
Alex Morris – S 6’1″ 188 from Humble, Texas (Atascocita HS)
Thomas Preston III – OL 6’4″ 290 from Mesa, Arizona (Scottsdale CC)
Derrick Shaw – DT 6’0″ 260 from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (Broken Arrow HS)
Jyaire Shorter – WR 6’2″ 215 from Killeen, Texas (Ellison HS)
LB is a need position. Florida Atlantic and Iowa leaned on North Texas and gained yards on the ground. Troy was able to get what they wanted in running situations, also. Even though NT was relatively solid in run situations on average, the LB corps could stand an invigoration.
Enter Tim Faison. He has the prototypical LB size and strength to make an impact. His highlight tape shows that strength and some mobility. Having a plugger at one of the interior LB positions is important — the Colton McDonald role — and Faison could be that person.
Alex Morris is yet another safety in this class which makes five depending on where you put Kevyon Davis (he likely will be a safety). The highlight film shows a guy with some ball skills and good agility.
Thomas Preston fills a very big need. Littrell mentioned that they are finally nearing the numbers they want for solid depth — around 17-20 — to have first line guys and the future of the position on the roster. Given the fact that lineman usually need time to grow, having players on the roster for a while is the ideal. Preston will be eligible to participate in Spring given his Juco status and so will be expected to be a contributer sooner rather than later. He dominated his competition on the highlights. It will be interesting to see how he fares against CUSA competition.
Derrick Shaw is a DT from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He has a good motor and good strength. He may be a bit too light to be expected to contribute right away, but he could get some spot action depending on how good he looks in practice. That energy and enthusiasm could come in handy. NT was a bit shorthanded at times along the DL so he may get some action just for that reason.
Finally, Jyaire Shorter is a 3-star WR from Kileen. He has prototypical outside reciever size. He had offers from UTSA and Houston, among others. His size is really intriguing, as he looks like the kind of wide out that USM has had in Korey Robertson. NT has had burners (Guyton) and a big guy in Rico Bussey, but adding another big size option diversifies the attack a bit. He also finishes blocks well, which is something very important in this offense.
NT got the bulk of their class in December, and had some battles for guys late leading up to February. At least two guys looked super committed to NT but then went elsewhere. The Mean Green have a good class that addresses some needs (LB, DL, OL) and adds depth (QB, WR, RB) but did not win the headlines. For those looking for NT to dominate the recruiting days, this is very frustrating but this is the nature of the staff. Littrell and company have shown a propensity to find unheralded guys and develop well. For certain positions — DL especially — this is not a feasible strategy. For every JJ Watt and Marcus Davenport there are countless others who do not turn into devastating playmakers.
NT has offered some quality DL players but has either been unlucky or out recruited. If at worst these recruits — Shaw and LeBlanc — require a two or three seasons to develop into all-league lineman that would still mean that the staff found two all-league lineman.