Greetings, Lion fans, and it’s that time of the year again. For a football fan in the state of Texas, the only things that compare are a winning season, Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries. National Signing Day. Who signed where? Who’s headed to Commerce? The staff here at The Wire have all the information for you. So let’s take a closer look.
Head Coach David Bailiff, with a full off season, has made huge inroads into the Houston area. The legendary basketball coach at the University of Houston, the late Guy V. Lewis, once said that he could do all of his recruiting in Houston on a bicycle. Houston has long been fertile ground for football talent as well. The Lions were able to sign 13 players from the Houston area, as well as 11 from the D/FW Metroplex, 4 from the Austin/Central Texas region, 3 from deep East Texas, and 3 from outside the state. Of the 34 players signed, only 5 were transfers. Now, let’s dive right in and look at some of the individuals that stood out. (Note: If you want to know about a particular player that isn’t covered here, please feel free to contact me anytime, and I’ll let you know-Russell).
Anthonie Thomas(OL), 6’8″ 320 lbs., Jr.(Kilgore College)-A prototypical tackle with imposing size. Thomas is an aggressive blocker with good footwork, great quickness, and displays what may be the most important trait of a good offensive lineman, a nasty streak.
Jo-Bentley Keilani(OL), 6’3″, 330 lbs., Jr.(Mt. Sac College)-A punishing blocker, Keilani moves very well for a big man. He is very effective and pulling and trapping. Great pass blocking technique. Quick feet and great size and strength.
Kevin Ledee(WR), 6’5″ 190 lbs., RS-Soph.(Tulane)-Great size and soft hands: runs well after the catch; can step in right away.
Cedrick Wilcox III(LB), 6’0″ 230 lbs., Sr.(Jacksonville)-Good size and strength; big hitter. Solid tackling technique, is very good in pass coverage.
Rehboth Chibesa(OL), 6’2″ 315 lbs., Jr.(Cisco Junior College)-Good strength, quick feet, a natural fit at guard. Chibesa is a dominant and punishing blocker.
Michael Phoenix(WR), 6’2″ 190 lbs., Fr.(Conroe HS)-A real gem that David Bailiff was able to mine out of the Houston area. Aside from having the coolest name by far, Phoenix is a big target, a great route runner with outstanding speed. Will go up and attack the ball. Looks to be the best receiver of this year’s class.
Cole Dagen(OL), 6’4″, 310 lbs., Fr.(North Garland)-The son of former Lion Trent Dagen, Cole looks to continue the legacy. Great size and strength. Played tackle his senior year. Good technique and footwork in both run and pass blocking. Moves well for a big man; still has room to grow.
Calvin Branin(LB), 6’0″ 210 lbs., Fr.(Barbers Hill)-If Barbers Hill sounds familiar to you, it is the same school that produced the surprise freshman sensation of 2019, Spencer Long. Branin has good speed and outstanding strength. He is a solid tackler with a nose for the ball. Is very good at fighting off of blocks.
Bryson Stewart(DL), 6’2″ 210 lbs., Fr.(Missouri City Ridge Point)-Very quick, with lots of room to grow in size and strength. Disruptive up front, Stewart can play either end or tackle; relentless in pursuit.
Christian Traylor(DB), 5’10” 180 lbs., Fr.(Arlington Martin)-Good technique in coverage, very good recovery speed. Good hands for a defensive back; A big hitter with a knack for the big play. Had 2 pick sixes and a fumble return for a touchdown his senior year.
Sean Krystoff-King(DB), 5’10” 185 lbs., Fr.(Humble Summer Creek)-Good speed, always around the ball. Tremendous hitter with a nose for the big play. Explosive punt returner and solid tackler.
Michael McIntosh(TE), 6’5″ 250 lbs., Fr.(Sour Lake Hardin Jefferson)-Good size, soft hands; tough runner after the catch, an aggressive blocker.
Elias Pino(WR), 5’10” 180 lbs., Fr.(Cy Ranch)-Great speed, very elusive runner. Plays bigger than his 180 lbs.. Soft hands, he can play either in the slot or at running back.
LJ Patterson(WR), 6’4″ 210 lbs., Fr.(Cy Ridge)-A multi talented skill position player. Great size with speed. Very elusive with good instincts. A solid blocker, Patterson could fit at any skill position.
DaMaris August(WR), 6’0″ 190 lbs., College of the Canyons-Very quick with good hands. An elusive runner after the catch. A solid blocker.
Lazarus Rosario(DL), 6’3″ 220 lbs., Fr.(Austin Lake Travis)-Good quickness with an ability to contend with bigger opponents. Very intelligent, and a solid tackler. Pursues the ball well.
Overall, this is a extremely good class. Size and speed are two of the most common abilities. There are more than a few “diamonds in the rough” that just need time to develop size, strength, and to adapt to bigger and better competition. David Bailiff and his staff have more than restocked the shelves. The future is very bright in Lion Nation.
Now, when is that Blue-Gold game?