New head coach Jay Thomas, who has six years experience as a championship-winning Southland Conference head coach at Nicholls State, said putting together a tight-knit staff triggered the success that unfolded on National Signing Day Wednesday.
“The 25 years I’ve spent in college coaching helped prepare me for this. We quickly built a very strong staff, really smart guys, hard workers, hustlers, and came up with a really good plan tying in things we’d done before with the assets on hand at Northwestern and in Natchitoches. I had a leg up knowing a lot of the personnel that is here, because I was here for two seasons in 2010-11 (as defensive line coach)
The Demons included 11 Louisiana high school players in the signing class, which could expand in the coming days. Seven defensive backs, including five listed as cornerbacks, topped the list, with four linebackers, three quarterbacks, two defensive linemen, and a receiver, offensive lineman, running back and kicker.
Eight of the 20 have grade point averages over 3.0 and at least two are National Honor Society members. Three have family ties to the Demon football program: Haughton High School quarterback James David Almond is the grandson of one of NSU’s greatest receivers, 1979 NFL Draft pick Mike Almond, while Natchitoches-St. Mary’s defensive lineman Brandon Kelly’s grandfather Don Kelly was a talented running back for the Demons in the early 1960s, and Bossier City-Airline running back Calvin Moody is a two-generation legacy, with stepfather Bo Meeks a former Demon quarterback and his grandfather, Ken Meeks, a receiver for NSU in the mid-1970s.
Thomas said not to read too much into positions listed on the signing chart. As he and the new staff approach spring practice next month, installing new offensive and defensive schemes, nothing is set.
Thomas didn’t want to single out any signee as the jewel of the class, or one that the Demons were especially excited to add over others in the group.
Junior college passer Zach Adams, who was one of the more prolific quarterbacks in the 70-team California community college leagues last year, seems as strong a contender as any signee to earn immediate action in 2013.
Adams was one of four JC transfers, along with another California CC addition, offensive lineman Zach Schumann, and Marion Chapman, a Jones County (Mississippi) linebacker who ranked 10th in the nation in tackles, and East Mississippi cornerback Jason Yarbor, who picked off seven passes in two seasons.
After going through the football equivalent of speed dating, Thomas was thankful for the support he and his staff received in their “fast and furious” recruiting process.