Texas State wrapped up their 2015 Signing Day class with a full 25 scholarships used and an emphasis on building depth in the defensive front seven.
Dennis Franchione gave his usual coachspeak about going after "OKG's", or "our kind of guys," but there's a reason for that. The Bobcats under Coach Fran have improved from 4-8 to 6-6 to 7-5 in their first three seasons in FBS competition, and the progression of (mostly) high school recruits developing in his system have played a big role in that ascension. However, the focus of the Bobcats is clear in the hashtag used by the Athletic Department in their announcement of the 2015 Signing Day class: to #LeaveNoDoubt and make a bowl.
Whether the Bobcats #LeaveNoDoubt may depend on this year's class that was rated as 2nd in the Sun Belt by Rivals, 4th in the 'Belt by Scout, and 6th in the conference by 247Sports.
Texas State got a couple of potential playmakers at running back, wide receiver, and defensive tackle. But will they all make it to San Marcos?
Javier Edwards, DT
Edwards was highly sought after by a few Big 12, ACC, and SEC schools, and for good reason. The 3-star defensive tackle can straight up overpower his offensive line counterparts and could be a game changer for an interior of the Bobcats' defensive line which, quite frankly, needs help.
The catch? There's a pretty significant chance he might not qualify and have to go the JUCO route.
Steven Eddings, DT
One of last year's sign-and-place non-qualifiers finally makes his way to San Marcos and could potentially contribute immediately, if nothing else from a depth perspective to give Dondre Elvoid and Mershad Dillon the occasional breather.
Justin Gamble, WR
Gamble looks to be the real deal and may be the best receiver prospect to hit San Marcos since Brice Gunter. He can run excellent routes, make acrobatic catches in traffic, and, perhaps best of all, hold his blocks.
Willie Williams, OL
Williams earned some interest from big name schools like TCU, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame, and for good reason. He has the frame to play D1 football and could contribute as early as next season after he presumably redshirts.
Bralon Hutchison, RB
Although he didn't always play the toughest competition since La Grange is in Class 4A, the third largest classification in Texas high school football, Hutchison is a talented athlete who earned scholarship offers from multiple P5 and G5 schools.
|Name||Previous Institution||Position, Height, Weight||Other Offers||Star Ratings|
|Easy Anyama||Texas||S, 6'3", 205 lbs.||None||2* (247 Sports)|
|Bo Anderson||Coppell (TX) HS||LB, 6'2", 225 lbs.||Eastern Michigan, Nevada, Wyoming||2* (Rivals), 3* (247 & Scout)|
|Landon Beck||Early HS (Brownwood, TX)||DE, 6'4", 280 lbs.||None||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Nick Bingham||Franklin HS (El Paso, TX)||RB, 5'11", 205 lbs.||Air Force, New Mexico, New Mexico State, UTEP||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Kwamane Bowens||Butler County CC (KS) via Hawaii||WR, 6'0", 196 lbs.||North Dakota State||3* (247), 2* (Scout)|
|Steven Eddings||Jones County JC (Memphis, TN)||DT, 6'5", 290 lbs.||None**||2* (Rivals, Scout)|
|Javier Edwards||Aldine Davis HS (Houston, TX)||DT, 6'3", 330 lbs.||Iowa State, Kansas State, Mississippi State, NC State, SMU, Southeastern Louisiana, Northwestern State||3* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Teron Fitzgerald||Copiah Lincoln CC (Greensboro, FL)||LB, 6'4", 227 lbs.||Memphis, North Texas, Middle Tennessee State, Central Arkansas||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Chris French||Saddleback CC (San Clemente, CA)||TE, 6'3", 245 lbs.||Illinois, Iowa State, Indiana State||3* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Justin Gamble||Stony Point HS (Round Rock, TX)||WR, 5'11", 170 lbs.||Texas Tech||3* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Bralon Hutchison||La Grange (TX) HS||RB, 5'11", 180 lbs.||Oregon State, Duke, Houston, Nevada, New Mexico, North Texas, Stephen F. Austin||3* (247), 2* (Rivals, Scout)|
|Lumi Kaba||Tyler (TX) JC||K, 6'2", 180 lbs.||Southern Miss||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Kregg Lemons||Taylor HS (Houston, TX)||OL, 6'4", 275 lbs.||Navy, Air Force, New Mexico||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Bryan London||Randolph HS (Converse, TX)||LB, 6'2", 215 lbs.||None||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Dustin McWhorter||Graham (TX) HS||DE, 6'3", 250 lbs.||Colorado State, North Texas||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Jordan Mittie||Navy Prep/Aledo (TX) HS||LB, 6'3", 240 lbs.||None||2*(Rivals, 247)|
|Javonte O'Roy||Palomar CC (Antelope, CA)||CB, 6'0", 185 lbs.||South Alabama, Western Carolina||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Blake Peterson||Washburn Rural HS (Topeka, KS)||QB, 6'2", 195 lbs.||None||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Jacob Rowland||Wills Point (TX) HS||OL, 6'5", 305 lbs.||Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Tyler Siudzinski||Santa Anna CC (Tustin, CA) via Air Force Prep||RB, 5'10", 195 lbs.||None||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Anthony Taylor||Guyer HS (Denton, TX)||RB, 5'10", 185 lbs.||None||3* (ESPN), 2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Josh Uluocha||Stafford (TX) HS||DT, 6'1", 255 lbs.||UTSA, Army||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|Kerry Walker, Jr.||Shoemaker HS (Killeen, TX)||LB, 6'3", 215 lbs.||Houston, North Texas, Northern Illinois, Utah State, New Mexico State, Sam Houston State, Tennessee State||2* (Rivals, Scout, 247)|
|LG Williams||Cibolo Steele (TX) HS||QB, 5'10", 193 lbs.||Navy, UTSA, Army, New Mexico, Sam Houston State||3* (ESPN, Scout, 247), 2* (Rivals)|
|Willie Williams||Pearland (TX) HS||OL, 6'3", 285 lbs.||Fresno State, New Mexico||3* (247), 2* (Rivals, Scout)|
**previously signed but failed to qualify
The Ones That Got Away
Texas State didn't lose too many vital recruits in the run up to Signing Day, but a couple of unfortunate defections did occur. Aledo HS defensive back Johnathan Durham picked up a late offer from Kansas State and ended up in Manhattan (in the interest of full disclosure, I also hold a degree from K-State in addition to Texas State). Although it's unsurprising that Durham chose to sign with a Big 12 school and a coaching staff under that's done an excellent job developing cornerbacks under Bill Snyder's guidance, he could've seen the field as early as this year in San Marcos.
Malik Manciel was the other notable defection, as the 3 star defensive end and onetime Bobcat commit spurned Texas State for Middle Tennessee State just a few days before Signing Day. The Bobcats still need all the help they can get on the defensive line, especially with Michael Odiari graduating.
After a 2014 recruiting class that was high on quantity (26) but relatively low on higher-caliber recruits and immediate contributors, a few encouraging trends are evident in 2015's Signing Day class.
First of all, Texas State is slowly but surely moving away from relying too heavily on JUCO players as Coach Fran and his staff signed seven players--six if you rule out kickers--from junior/community colleges, which is lower than the 8 signed in 2014 and 11 brought in for 2013's transition to full FBS membership. Out of 31 JUCO players signed by Coach Fran, only 11--Chase Harper, Shaun Rutherford, David Mayo, Damion McMiller, CJ Best, Marcus Dallas Jr., Brandon Sarabia, Demetrius Woodard, Lawrence White, Mershad Dillon, and Dondre Elvoid--have seen significant playing time.
Although White and Woodard made some important plays last season, only six (Mayo, Harper, Rutherford, Sarabia, Best, and McMiller) were ever deemed to be consistent starting material and weren't thrown out on the field because they were Texas State's only semi-viable options (Dillon and Elvoid). Coach Fran and company have done a solid job developing players that came in as high schoolers, so the more they can bring to San Marcos, redshirt, and develop, the better.
Another encouraging trend is that this year's crop of recruits seems to have a better slate of offers than 2014's class. Although it's far from a surefire indicator that a highly sought after recruit will work out--sorry to pick on you, Jamel James and Tyler Arndt--generally speaking Texas State will want to beat out the likes of Houston, Texas Tech, and Kansas State for recruits rather than Colgate or Missouri State.
Texas State hasn't been able to recapture their ability to bring in large numbers of three star recruits as they did in 2012 and 2013, but 9 players that have received at least one rating of three stars is likely an improvement from last year's glut of two star recruits that did little to contribute much more than depth. Recruiting rankings are far from an exact science, and Texas State has had quite a few three-star recruits not pan out. To play devil's advocate a little further, Tyler Jones was a little heralded two star recruit out of Stephenville, and he's become the heart and soul of the Texas State offense.
However, despite those exceptions, stars do matter in the long run.
Next season will be the first where Dennis Franchione will be working entirely with his recruits, and as a result there will likely be some pressure from fans to see Texas State produce a season of 8-4 or higher and (finally) obtain a bowl bid. If the Bobcat coaches can get a few players from this 2015 recruiting class to contribute in a big way, especially along the defensive line, then that expectation may become a reality.