Football: Demons cap 2023 signing class

Football: Demons cap 2023 signing class

By Jason Pugh, Northwestern State’s Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations

NATCHITOCHES — Northwestern State’s football signing class of 2023 turned a full Wednesday.

The Demons announced the addition of 18 players to the 10 players they signed in the early signing phase in December. Northwestern State’s undersigning class mixed both high school players and transfers from four-year and junior colleges.

“Having 23 signings is about what we envisioned,” said head coach Brad Laird, who is entering his sixth season at the helm of his alma mater. “They break that down and have 10 high school signers and 13 transfers. Then add another five favorite walk-ons. It’s a great mix of experience with some transfer guys and some newcomers to keep building the program.

“We had 11 seniors who had exhausted eligibility and we wanted to replace them with high school seniors. We have succeeded. A great mix of experience and high school graduates.”

That mix started in the wide receiver room, where NSU on Wednesday added two freshmen, who got signatures from Westgate’s Amaaz Eugene and Marshall (Texas) High School’s Jacorey Smith.

Eugene threw for more than 2,700 all-purpose yards at Westgate in New Iberia as a senior, scoring 23 touchdowns in the process. Playing on a run-first offense, Smith recorded 35 passes and five touchdowns as a senior, earning him All District honors.

“If you look at our reception corps, it’s top-heavy,” Laird said. “We wanted to bring in some younger guys. We did that in this group. The guys that join the older guys in this room are going to be good.”

NSU also added two prep-defense linemen and brought in Ruston All-Stater Christian Davis and a Texas All-District performer in VR Eaton’s Chancellor Owens.

Davis recorded 76 tackles and had five sacks as the Bearcats advanced to their first state championship game since 1998. Owens, meanwhile, recorded 21 sacks in two seasons at Eaton and helped the Eagles reach the third round of Texas Class 6A Division II as a junior.

Davis wasn’t the only Demon signing to bring state championship experience to the class, as homer linebacker Brendon Harris was part of a state title team during his junior season and was a runner-up last fall.

“One of Homer’s who’s been in a couple of state championships and here lately Christian Davis from Ruston High what a year they’ve had,” Laird said. “Bringing in people who come from the type of culture that we want here just expands what we want to do.”

St. Augustine defender Jeremiah Keppard led the Demons’ seven new signings. Keppard, an all-district selection, helped the Purple Knights to a first-round bye in the playoffs last fall before falling to brother Martin and fellow NSU player Troy Santa Marina Jr., who joined Keppard in the Demons – will join secondary school.

Between the December signing period and Wednesday, the Demons added seven more transfers who have attended NSU’s offseason workouts ahead of spring training, which begins March 14.

Among the new Demons is a mix of offense players — tight end Sylvester “Pete” Campbell, wide receiver Myles Kitt-Denton, and offense lineman Quentin Ross — and defensemen William White (safety), Anthony Richard Jr. (cornerback), Ty Ely ( defensive end), Nazir Sy (defensive line) and Jeremiah Bodwin (defensive end).

“If you look at one area or a few areas that we had to grow, offense and defense, we signed four offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen,” Laird said. “We had four wide receivers and five defensive backs. Those were a couple of areas that we needed to focus on and we did.

“The 13 transfers we’ve already been able to add to the group and the 10 high school seniors we’re going to bring here over the summer will be big. What these guys are doing with our new strength and conditioning coach, Jason Smelser, is awesome. We postponed spring training because it’s going so well and we want to continue that.”

2023 Northwestern State Signing Class

Chris Allen, OL, 6-3, 265, Shreveport, La.—Captain Shreve HS

Jeremiah Bodwin, OLB/DE, 6-4, 225, Dallas, Texas-Parish Episcopal HS (Nevada)

Ja’Marion Bonner, CB, 6-1, 180, Bastrop, Louisiana-Sterlington HS

Sylvester “Pete” Campbell, TE, 6-4, 240, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Martin Luther HS (Mississippi Valley State)

Christian Davis, DL, 6-2, 300, Ruston, Louisiana-Ruston HS

Will Derrick, WR, 6-0, 170, Shreveport, Louisiana-Calvary Baptist Academy (ULM)

Ty Ely, DE, 6-2, 245, Oxnard, CA-Oaks Christian HS (New Mexico State/Moorpark CC)

Amaaz Eugene, WR, 5-8, 160, New Iberia, Louisiana-Westgate HS

JT Fayard, QB, 6-5, 220, Richmond, Texas-Foster HS

Donte Glass, ATH, 6-1, 185, New Orleans, Louisiana-Sophie B. Wright HS

Antonio Hall, CB, 6-1, 160, Fort Worth, Texas-Nolan Catholic HS

Cam Hardy, S, 6-1, 195, Frisco, Texas-Reedy HS (South Carolina)

Brendon Harris, LB, 6-3, 220, Homer, Louisiana-Homer HS

Jeremiah Keppard, S, 6-3, 170, New Orleans, Louisiana-St. Augustine HS

Ryan Larson, OL, 6-4, 290, Nacogdoches, Texas-Nacogdoches HS

Tyler McMillan, OL, 6-6, 315, Detroit, Michigan-River Rouge HS (Mississippi Valley State)

Chancellor Owens, DE, 6-3, 255, Haslet, Texas-VR Eaton HS

Hanzlah Rana, OL, 6-3, 285, Richmond, Texas-George Ranch HS

Keshawn Reed, DL, 6-3, 271, Monroe, Louisiana-Richwood HS

Anthony Richard Jr., CB, 6-2, 185, Lafayette, LA-Lafayette Christian Academy (Harding)

Quinton Ross, OL, 6-3, 300, Baton Rouge, Louisiana-Woodlawn HS (Garden City CC)

Troy Santa Marina Jr., CB, 5-11, 175, Slidell, Louisiana Brother Martin HS

Trevion Sneed, DL, 6-2, 242, Mineola, Texas – Mineola HS (SMU)

Nazir Sy, DL, 6-3, 300, Peachtree Corners, Georgia-Norcross HS (Akron/Butler CC)

Tyler Vander Waal, QB, 6-4, 220, Sacramento, CA – Christian Brothers HS (Idaho State)

William White III, S, 6-1, 205, Carrollton, Texas-Hebron HS (Houston)

Brian Young Jr., S, 5-11, 195, Natchitoches, Louisiana-Natchitoches Central HS

— Featured photo by Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

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