The University of Tulsa's 2014 football signing class totals 23 players, including nine Oklahomans, six players from Texas, four from Arkansas and two each from Kansas and Tennessee, it was announced today by Head Coach Bill Blankenship.
Three of the 23 members of this signing class - JUCO transfer running back Tavarreon Dickerson, quarterback Jabe Burgess and receiver Nigel Carter - have already enrolled in classes and will participate in spring drills.
Among the signees, 14 are on offense and nine on defense. On offense, the Hurricane signed five receivers, four linemen, three running backs and one player each at quarterback and tight end. Defensively, Tulsa added a total of five linemen, including three tackles and two ends, two linebackers and two defensive backs.
The Hurricane continued signing Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas prep players, while dipping into the states of Kansas and Tennessee, signing two prospects each from those states.
"What I'm excited about is that I do think we've met the needs that we identified going into this year," said Blankenship. "We went into the season with a very young defense, so we didn't have a lot of pressing emergencies on defense, therefore, we were able to build depth with this class."
"Offensively, we made a real clear decision to get more athletic. We knew we'd have to replace running backs and receivers, so speed and length were the two things we were looking for in this class," added Blankenship.
"We hit homeruns with our offensive and defensive linemen. Those were the guys we targeted early and were able to stay on them and sign them," said Blankenship. "We fought off some really good programs to hang on to the guys we've signed."
Of the nine Oklahomans, three earned first-team all-state honors by the Tulsa World and six were named to The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of the top recruits in the state. Offensive linemen Chandler Miller from Bixby High School, Mildren Montgomery from Oklahoma City Douglass High School and Berryhill defensive end Jeremy Smith were first-team all-state selections by theTulsa World. Tulsa's six remaining Oklahoma signees received Tulsa World honorable mention all-state accolades.
Joining Miller, Montgomery and Smith on The Oklahoman's Super 30 list are Norman High School tight end Payton Prince, Yukon offensive lineman Tyler Bowling and Tulsa McLain receiver Nigel Carter.
The Hurricane also signed first-team all-state players from Arkansas - Jabe Burgess from Greenwood High School and Springdale Har-ber offensive lineman Isaac Johnson - and from Tennessee, linebacker Petera Wilson from Memphis White Hall High School. Burgess was ranked as the 22nd top pro-style quarterback and the fourth-best Arkansas recruit by Rivals.com, while Wilson was ranked as Tennessee's 15th-best prospect.
Fourteen players were named among their state's top-35 players as selected by 247Sports, ranging from Arkansas' Burgess, ranked 10th, to Berryhill's Smith, ranked 34th in Oklahoma.
Tulsa added size and speed at the receiver position with 6'4" Justin Hobbs from Overland Park, Kan., 6'3" local talent Nigel Carter from Tulsa's McLain High School and 6'1" Brodrick Umblance from Arlington, Texas. Mansfield Legacy's Terrance Ivery, stands only 5'8", and 5'10 Bishop Louie from McLain High School add great quickness and speed.
"At receiver, we were able to get length and speed with Nigel Carter at 6'3" Justin Hobbs at 6'4" - both of those guys can go get it. Brodrick Umblance is a do-everything medium size guy with speed," said Blankenship. "We then went with a couple smaller guys who could be multi-purpose with Terrance Ivery and Bishop Louie. Bishop is an all-around athlete who will return kicks. Terrance led the state of Texas in kick returns his junior year and was an outstanding receiver. His coaches went to him and asked him to play quarterback his senior year. He fits our profile really well. Strong character kid with good academics and is an all-around good athlete. We look to move him to slot receiver."
Tulsa found three of its four offensive line signees from the state of Oklahoma -Bowling (Yukon), Miller (Bixby) and Montgomery (Oklahoma City), and the fourth from just across the border in Johnson from Springdale, Arkansas.
"We really felt confident that we signed the three best offensive lineman in the state of Oklahoma. All three were ranked in the Oklahoma Super 30," said Blankenship." "Chandler Miller, locally, is more of an inside player at center and guard, then we signed three tackles that we're really excited about their length and size -- Tyler Bowling and Mildren Montgomery - then Isaac Johnson from Har-ber in Springdale was the Arkansas Offensive Lineman of the Year."
"We signed four really, really good offensive lineman and three are tackle types that we know can grow into playing anywhere along the line of scrimmage and all three of those are 6'5" or plus," added Blankenship.
The Hurricane signed three dynamic and speedy running backs, all measuring 5'9", including Dickerson, the sophomore JUCO signee, and incoming freshman D'Angelo Brewer of Tulsa's Central High School and Memphis Whitehaven High School product Ramadi Warren. Brewer and Warren each rushed for over 1,300 yards as prep seniors, while Dickerson averaged 8.5 yards per carry for Trinity Valley Community College last year.
"We knew we needed to replace JT and Trey, and even Alex Singleton. We needed to get some depth at running back. We were excited when we got an early commitment from DeAngelo Brewer from Central High School. He's just an athlete who can play anywhere," said Blankenship. "Tavarreon Dickerson is a JC signee. But, it was a little bit rare in that he had enough academic strengths that he still has three years to play. He brings the speed and physicality of playing on a championship-level junior college team at Trinity Valley Community College. His Arlington High School coach, who has been around for a long time, says he the best running back he's ever coached. We think he's pretty special."
"We were able to lock up Ramadi Warren from Memphis late in the recruiting process, and that was a direct result of us getting to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and playing in Memphis. He had several offers and then was the MVP of Memphis' post-season all-star game," added Blankenship.
Arkansas' Burgess produced a 26-1 record in two seasons as the quarterback at Greenwood High School, completing 72-percent of his passes for 5,238 yards and 47 touchdowns. Tulsa's lone tight end signee, Prince caught 36 passes for 528 yards and five TDs his senior season at Norman High School.
"Our quarterback signee Jabe Burgess was 26-1 as a starter in high school. He knows how to play and how to win," said Blankenship. "I'm absolutely thrilled with Payton Prince at tight end and his athleticism and size. He played everything they wanted him to play at Norman North including wildcat quarterback."
Tulsa's three defensive tackle signees - Michael Rios from Wichita West High School, Earl Rollins from Irving MacArthur High School and Willie Wright of Houston Cypress Ridge High School - average 6'3", 282 pounds, while the Hurricane also signed two athletic defensive ends averaging 6'4" and 230 pounds in the likes of Berryhill (Okla.) High School product Jeremy Smith and Beaumont, Texas' Myles Mouton of Ozen High School.
"We've signed three interior defensive lineman that are very big and physical football players, and two defensive end types that we think will elevate our athleticism and pass rush," said Blankenship.
In addition to Memphis' Wilson, the Hurricane also signed North Little Rock's Tim Quickel to give Tulsa two linebacker prospects.
"We knew we'd only sign one true inside linebacker and we think Tim Quickel is a real steal for us. He has incredible speed and is a big time hitter, while Petera Wilson is more of a hybrid linebacker/defensive end," said Blankenship. "What we love about him is his pass rushing ability. Going into our new conference we have to have some guys who can really make a difference. He has a similar pass rushing style to Shawn Jackson in terms of pressure. He's a little bigger and longer, but he gives us that kind of ability."
Tulsa signed two tall defensive backs in the likes of 6'2" Jordan Mitchell of Owasso (Okla.) High School and 6'1" Jordan Dennis of Fayetteville (Ark.) High School.
"We found two tall athletes to play in the secondary, both Jordan's -- Jordan Dennis and Jordan Mitchell. Both can really run and are in the 6'1" category. Both have the ability to play corner, but probably are more geared toward safety, but we love the kind of athleticism they possess."
Deposits for new season tickets are currently being accepted. Season ticket prices range from $140 to 300. Mazzio's Family Fun Zone season tickets, including two adults and two children, can be purchased for $460. Tulsa's full schedule has not yet been announced. Tulsa is awaiting the 2014 league schedule from the American Athletic Conference.