Greetings, Lion fans, and it’s that time of year in which the disappointments of the past season are erased, and the dawn and new hopes for the future are renewed. Much like spring training in baseball, in between National Signing Day and spring football, excitement builds around seeing how new players fit in, how the redshirt crop from the year before having developed, and who will step up to fill positions vacated by transfer or graduation. No matter where and at what level, from places like Tuscaloosa to Athens, from Los Angeles to Norman, and smaller destinations like Blinn, Waco, and Commerce, the excitement begins to build. So, let’s dive right in and take a look.
First of all, a big hat tip has to go out to AD Tim McMurray, Head Coach David Bailiff, and the rest of their staff for what appears to be a job well done. With all the details that go into the transition to the Southland Conference and Division 1 FCS, in addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the football program, and building a brand-new schedule from scratch, what appears to be a very solid first D1 recruiting class appears to have arrived.
The level of talent that has become available to the Lions is already beginning to pay off. 11 of the 19 newest members of the Lion family are transfers, and not just transfers from junior colleges or other Division 2 schools. Commerce has very quickly become one of the top transfer destinations in ALL of FCS. This crop of recruits has arrived from such places as San Diego State. Incarnate Word University. Ohio State. Yes, you read that right. THE Ohio State. Elon. Maryland. SMU. Colorado. University of San Diego. Along with solid transfers from former Lone Star Conference Foe A&M-Kingsville, and Kilgore College, and some outstanding high school talent, there is a new day dawning indeed in Commerce, America.
Here they are:
B.J. Busbee (WR, 5’7″ 144 lbs.)- An elusive runner with great speed and plenty of moves, Busbee could be a fit as a kick and/or punt returner; seems to be a natural fit as a slot/inside receiver. Good burst of speed is a solid blocker; has seen time as a defensive back. (San Diego State Transfer)
Reggie Branch (RB, 6’1″ 195 lbs.)- A quarterback/running back on Crosby’s 2020 state finalist team, Branch is very fast, with a 4.3 40-yard dash time. He is a tough runner with great speed. Could be a good fit at either WR, RB, or QB. Good instincts as a runner, his natural position seems to be as a slot receiver. (University of Incarnate Word Transfer)
Jagger Laroe (QB, 6’5″ 230 lbs.)- Is a graduate transfer; redshirted one year at Texas A&M-College Station before spending three years at Ohio State. Was 4 of 4 passing with a touchdown in the 2021 Buckeye spring game. A big, tall pocket passer much in the mold of a Wade Wilson, Harrison Stewart, or Luis Perez, Laroe is a very accurate passer who makes good decisions. Doesn’t have a lot of speed, but is mobile in the pocket, and can extend the play. Is a tough runner when needed. (Ohio State Transfer)
Nick Cerimele (OL, 6’1″ 295 lbs.)- Good quickness, great strength, with solid footwork and technique. (Elon Transfer)
Krian Curtis (DT 6’1″ 310 lbs.)- Extremely strong. An aggressive tackler that is very quick and moves surprisingly well for a big man. Dominates his opponent. (True Freshman)
Zadock Dinkelman (QB, 6’5″ 233 lbs.)- If the name sound familiar, it should be. Dinkleman was 8 of 12 for 91 yards against the Lions last season as a member of A&M-Kingsville. Dinkelman spent his high school career playing at Somerset High School for the legendary Sonny Detmer. Stands tall and strong in the pocket; has good touch on the ball. Is very accurate but can extend the play and make plays with his feet. A strong arm and can make all the throw. (A&M-Kingsville transfer)
Dorian Gates (DE, 6’4″ 200 lbs.) Good quickness; plays with a fast motor, and never gives up on a play. Could be a fit as an edge rusher or outside linebacker, has played both with his hand down and as a stand-up end. (True Freshman)
Mitchell Gorgas (OL 6’3″ 288 lbs.)- Good size and quickness, with good technique and footwork; plays with a real aggressive streak. (Maryland transfer)
Anthony Gray (DL, 6’2″ 270 lbs.)- Good quickness and technique. Has great strength and aggressiveness, could be a fit at either offensive or defensive line. (True Freshman)
Dawson Hearne (TE, 6’3″ 220 lbs.) Aggressive, dominating blocker, with soft hands, and a good run after catch. Also played linebacker, has good instincts, and a solid tackler. (True Freshman)
Treveon Johnson (WR 6’2″ 190 lbs.)- Had offers in high school from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Minnesota, and SMU; Very fast (4.3 40-yard dash time), with a great burst of speed; great instincts and an elusive runner. (SMU transfer)
Michael Keating (TE, 6’3″ 246 lbs.)- Good hands, size and quickness; tough runner after the catch. Was a quarterback in high school. (University of San Diego transfer)
Ian Langford (OL, 6’4″ 270 lbs.)- Good strength and quickness, has good footwork and is very aggressive. A lot of upsides. (True Freshman)
Keith Miller (WR, 6’4″ 200 lbs.)- Good size, explosive speed; is tough and elusive after the catch. Soft hands, and good technique. (Colorado Transfer)
B.J. Phillips, Jr. (RB, 5’11” 200 lbs.)- A starter at running back for 6A state finalist Denton Guyer, Phillips had offers from Army, Navy, Air Force, and Sam Houston State, initially committing to Army before decomitting, and signing with the Lions. Great speed and acceleration; Good instincts, an elusive runner with good strength. (True Freshman)
Damirion Polty (WR, 5’10” 170 lbs.)- Played for Lion assistant Jack Welch’s son, Tracy, at Lake Worth High School. Very fast, elusive runner, with soft hands. Good instincts, and always seems to be around the ball. (True Freshman)
Warren Robinson (DE, 6’3″ 248 lbs.)- Good speed and quickness, a relentless pass rusher. Solid tackler could fit at either defensive end or outside linebacker. Great instincts and technique. (Kilgore College transfer)
Brandon Tucker Jr. (LB, 6’0″ 224 lbs.)- Good speed, has a nose for the ball. Relentless in pursuit, with good instincts, and a solid tackler. (Myrtle Beach Prep/Desoto HS)
Lavon Williams (DB, 6’0″ 175 lbs.)- Big hitter; Good instincts, and never gives up on a play. Solid tackler, who can fight off the block and make a play.
Lion fans, this is a great blend of talent. Some, like Laroe, Miller, Busbee, Gorgas, and possibly Robinson, could see time right away. Others may just need time to develop. The future is bright, and a new day is dawning.
I can’t’ wait.