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Breaking down Memphis 2019 Early Signing Day

Mike Norvell is building something special.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Playing in the AAC Championship Game didn’t hinder Memphis on the recruiting trail. Mike Norvell and his staff continued to be in contact with their class, and are second in the AAC and 61st nationally. Not bad for a team trying to replace both coordinators and thwart rumors of their head coach leaving. Norvell said he was building something special at Memphis, and his recruiting efforts are backing that statement up. Let’s take a look at the Tigers recruits and what they can bring to the team.

DL Cole Mashburn— Norman, OK

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 230

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8768

Notable Offers: Iowa State, Nevada, North Texas, TCU

Analysis: Brother Cade is already on the team, so it’s not surprising to see Cole sign with the Tigers. Little brother is better than his older brother, and could add some depth to the defensive line. Plays very physical, and keeps his eyes in the backfield. Mashburn uses his hands well, and has a good mix of speed and power moves when rushing the passer.

CB Gabriel Rogers— Jackson, MS

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 190

247 Sports Composite Rating: .7000

Notable Offers: N/A

Analysis: Physical cornerback who loves to get in the grill of his receiver whenever possible. At 6’0”, he has good size to cover any receiver. This is a position that was young the last two years, so Rogers has a good chance of competing for a starting spot. Memphis struggled defensively for a second consecutive year, but they did show some improvement. With a new defensive coordinator stepping in, it could mean that every position is wide open.

WR Tahj Washington— Marshall, TX

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 175

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8154

Notable Offers: Air Force, Bowling Green

Analysis: The next Tony Pollard? Kind of a lazy comparison as he’s a receiver who returns kicks, but it could be true. Washington is dynamic at both positions, so it wouldn’t be a surprise. Defenders struggled with his speed in high school, and there were many times where he was running free in the defensive backfield last season.

CB John Broussard, Jr.— Phenix City, AL

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 185

247 Sports Composite Rating: .9049

Notable Offers: N/A

Analysis: Transferred from Auburn. 2015 Under Armour All-American. Pencil him in as a starter in 2019. He’s great in coverage, and has tremendous speed to keep up with anyone on any route. Pairing him with TJ Carter could give the Tigers the best duo in the conference and one of the best in the country. Broussard isn’t afraid of contact either, and you can tell he plays with a ton of confidence.

OLB Joseph Honeysucker— Nashville, TN

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 235

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8540

Notable Offers: Georgia State, Louisville, Rutgers, Tennessee

Analysis: A player who had his hand on the ground in high school, but could be standing up at Memphis. Honeysucker could be an option at the KAT position (a hyrbrid of a defensive lineman and a linebacker), and would fit in well there. He has great speed at that position, and blockers struggled mightily to get a hand on him. His speed moves are great, and he uses his hands well when rushing the passer.

DL Wardalis Ducksworth— Ellisville, MS

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 246

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8367

Notable Offers: Kansas, Ole Miss

Analysis: Long frame. Never gives up on a play no matter where it is going. Memphis loses Emmanuel Cooper, so a spot opens up on the defensive line. Inconsistencies in this group led to struggles by the defense in 2018. Ducksworth could be competing for a spot when he gets to campus.

QB Sheldon Layman— Mobile, AL

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 190

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8410

Notable Offers: Akron, Arkansas State

Analysis: Brady White will be the starter in 2019, so Layman will be competing with Brady McBride and Connor Adair for the backup spot. In 2020, the starting spot should be open for Layman to try and take. Quarterback has been a position of strength at Memphis for the last few years, so Layman could be the next great Tigers quarterback. He throws a nice ball, and can run the ball, though he’s not going to run past anyone at the college level.

OL Jacob Likes— Memphis, TN

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 280

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8165

Notable Offers: UL-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Navy, South Alabama

Analysis: Memphis had one of the best offensive lines in the AAC last year, but three seniors will be moving on. It’s unlikely that Likes would compete for a starting spot, but that’s because Mike Norvell and his staff have done such a great job at recruiting this position. Players like Obinna Eze, Dylan Parham, and Dustin Woodard will be starters, but Likes could be a future starter.

TE Drew Martin— North Little Rock, AR

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 230

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8377

Notable Offers: Air Force, Army, Bowling Green

Analysis: He may not start next year, but Drew Martin is going to be a matchup problem for defenses in the future. Joey Magnifico and Sean Dykes hold down the starting spot for now, but Martin is a nightmare for defenses. He’s a tremendous pass catcher with great speed for a tight end. His blocking is solid as well, and he isn’t afraid to lay a big hit on a defender. Watch out for Martin in the 2020 season.

CB Maliek Stallings— Macon, MS

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 170

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8165

Notable Offers: Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, UL-Monroe

Analysis: Very vocal player, and plays with a confidence level that is through the roof. Trusts his eyes well and is willing to take chances. Stallings won’t start this year, but he’s going to challenge the corners on roster physically and verbally for sure. He may not be the biggest player on the field, but his confidence allows him to take on any ball carrier without any fear.

OL Brian Thomas— Baton Rouge, LA

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 310

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8385

Notable Offers: N/A

Analysis: Thomas could be a competitor for a starting job in 2019. He fills out the uniform nicely, and his size is noticeable. He moves well for his size and can get out in space to block linebackers and defensive backs. Memphis has three positions open on the line, so he could find himself at one of the tackle positions next year.

RB Rodrigues Clark— Starkville, MS

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 200

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8493

Notable Offers: Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Georgia State, Louisiana

Analysis: Sadly, it’s time for Memphis fans to move on from Darrell Henderson, but they will be in good hands going forward. Clark is another future weapon that will be dangerous for the Tigers. He has a great frame for running the ball and taking hits, and has good speed to pull away from defenders. He could be in contention to get carries as a freshman in 2019.

OL Matt Dale— Raymond, MS

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 320

247 Sports Composite Rating: N/A

Notable Offers: South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Tulane

Analysis: Another lineman that could compete for playing time. Memphis will have some serious competition for the three open spots in 2019. Dale is one that, with his size, could have an immediate impact. If one candidate can’t pull away from the others, expect a rotation to be put in place.

DE Jalil Clemons— Starkville, MS

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 240

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8776

Notable Offers: Tennessee, Arkansas State, FAU, Louisiana

Analysis: When you can beat out an SEC school for a recruit, it’s a big deal. Clemons also surpassed Cole Mashburn as the top recruit when he signed with the Tigers. Clemons is quick off the ball, and his speed allows him to make any tackle on the field. He also uses his hands well to keep offensive tackles off of him, and could also be used at the KAT position like Mashburn.

DE Everitt Cunningham— West Point, MS

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 250

247 Sports Composite Rating: N/A

Notable Offers: UAB, UCF, Indiana

Analysis: Cunningham signed late Wednesday to add to Mike Norvell’s class. Norvell called Cunningham a difference maker, and that is clear on his film from East Mississippi Community College. He has a great burst off the snap, and has a variety of moves to get to the quarterback. His quickness will be valuable on the defensive line.