The Memphis Tigers, fresh off their most successful football campaign since the Kennedy administration, have signed their best recruiting class thus far in Justin Fuente's tenure as head coach. Though no one will mistake it for the gaudy rosters of their SEC neighbors, the workmanlike list is solid enough, and one of the best in the group of five conferences.
So, please enjoy this retrospective of the 2015 National Signing Day that was, from the eyes of Tigerland.
It is unlikely that anyone is particularly concerned with the quarterback position, as Paxton Lynch returns for his junior year. Lynch had a fine 2014 campaign, throwing for over 3000 yards and 22 touchdowns, with only 9 interceptions. Though he had inconsistent moments, he clearly improved from his freshman year and is the de facto starter for 2015.
Brady Davis, however, may have other plans. The 6-3 quarterback from Starkville, Mississippi, has some nice buzz going. A quick inquiry on your favorite Internet search engine will yield quite a few interesting highlight videos. Realistically, he is unlikely to see significant minutes in 2015, barring injury or significant regression by Lynch. Davis represents the future of the position.
The crowded backfield of 2014 loses Brandon Hayes, but retains promising running backs Doroland Dorceus and Jarvis Cooper. Add signees Jamarius Henderson, Mechane Slade, and Darrell Henderson (2014 Gatorade Football Player of the Year in Mississippi) to the mix, and there's depth for days.
Particularly intriguing is junior transfer Mark Dodson who, after languishing deep on the Ole Miss bench, promises untapped upside. Though it may be difficult for him to find considerable playing time with so many proved veterans, his history as an SEC back-of-the-future lends a certain glamour.
Of greatest concern to Tiger fans is the defense, which loses (in addition to its coordinator, Barry Odom, who left to take the same job at Missouri) eight starters from the 2014 squad, including defensive end Martin Ifedi, linebackers Tank Jakes and Charles Harris, and defensive backs Fritz Etienne and Bobby McCain. To help fill these gaps, Memphis inked thirteen defensive signees today, including outside linebacker Joseph Prevost, safety Kameron Prewitt, and defensive linemen Emmanuel Cooper and Jared Gentry. The depleted returning roster gives the signees chances to immediately contribute.
For the Tigers going forward, a potent offense promises to continue its development, with worthy understudies waiting in the wings. The defense is more concerning, and figures to be a young group with development to do. However, Coach Fuente has shown a fine ability to shape raw clay into competent (sometimes exceptional) football players. The 2015 recruiting class gives the incoming football season a cautious optimism.