December Recruiting Update

This December North Texas penned a couple of recruits from the JUCO ranks. MGN Friend of the Site and sometime contributor Billy Sierra analyzes the JUCO mid-term signing period:

One of the most surprising turns in the Littrell era happened very early on, as we saw him and his staff focus heavily on the junior college ranks for 2016 signings. We saw Littrell and his incomplete staff snag a couple December signings in OL TJ Henson and DE/OLB Joshua Wheeler, followed by five more February signings. Add in seven post signing day JUCO commitments – some of which may count towards the 2017 class as a result of blueshirting – and it was apparent the new staff wanted to get this team as good as possible as quickly as possible.

Given our 1-11 record in 2015, Littrell had until years 3 and 4 before his record would be critically judged. It was surprising to see him using so many spots on guys who would be out of eligibility by then, instead of on guys who would be upperclassmen in those crucial years. I also felt this would lead to more JUCO signings in future years in order to maintain equilibrium among grade classifications throughout the roster.

Early returns say Littrell may not feel the need to continue riding the JUCO train. In recent weeks we found out that one of our — at the time — two JUCO commits was no longer being held a spot in our class. Just two mid-term JUCO recruits have signed with us during this signing period. That is the same number as last year, but with a full year’s worth of time compared to the one week the coaches had in 2015.

As last year showed, JUCOs who don’t graduate by December are risky both having enough time to make an early impact and getting here altogether. Knowing our coaches chose not to sign more of the “sure things” that are December JUCOs, it’s hard to imagine us targeting too many more May-grad JUCOs this class, as I expect more of the focus to shift on high school recruits. Regardless, here are the two we did sign and how they fit in.

OL Jevin Pahinui:

6’4″ 280 lb offensive lineman from the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, California. He went the JUCO route out of high school, originally as a defensive lineman. He also held an offer from Eastern Michigan. Pahinui Graduated high school in 2014, so he could be a redshirt sophomore with two years to play two seasons left, but I’m not sure when he first enrolled as a full-time student so I can’t say definitively what his eligibility situation looks like.

He looks to have pretty good footwork in his film. He’s obviously not built to be a mauler, but he should fit well in this offense and plays well in space. Left guard and center positions seem to be the most likely destinations for him. Chalk this one down as more of a fit for the system fit than a consensus FBS recruit.

QB Devlin Isadore:

Isadore originally signed out of high school to play for a Division II University in Angelo State in 2014 by way of Aldine Eisenhower high school in the greater Houston area. After transferring to Navarro for the 2015 season, Isadore passed for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Then, after a hot start to the 2016 season, Isadore tore his ACL in the third game of the season. We still felt comfortable with him, and he committed to us back in October over no other official offers. It obviously is likely he would’ve had some other offers had the injury not occurred.

One mystery surrounding Isadore is how much eligibility he has left. Per an article by Scott Eklund back in October, Isadore said he had three years left. “The program is a place I see myself for the next three years.”

By my count, if he spent the fall semester of 2014 as a full-time student at Angelo State, then his eligibility counter started then. 2016 would mark his third season, meaning he should have be a redshirt sophomore this season and a redshirt junior when he suits up for his first game at North Texas. Regardless, he is set to compete for the starting spot with Mason Fine but not until the fall as he recovers from the torn ACL.

On film he is clearly a dual-threat quarterback. His throwing motion is less than desirable, with a bit of a short-armed and not-so-tight release, and a propensity to throw off his back foot. He does have noteworthy arm strength in his favor. He also can be pretty dangerous when he gets out of the pocket.

I think the coaches really need to utilize his running ability to the fullest when he is in. It is the most impressive ability he brings to the table. Strictly as a passer, I’m not convinced he’s going to be any better than average for the CUSA level. But, as with many dual-threat QBs, he doesn’t have to be a great passer to be effective and put up points.t

Mix things up, use his abilities, and coach him up and he can easily be a solid QB here in this offense.