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Sleeper Recruits in Conference USA East's 2016 Recruiting Classes

Three star recruits steal the headlines but each Conference USA East program signed some outstanding lesser-recruited athletes this year.

Ron Turner signed a great RB prospect in his 2016 class
Ron Turner signed a great RB prospect in his 2016 class
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte 49ers

Ryan Carriere - TE - Grayson High School (Loganville, GA)

Carriere doesn't quite have top-flight speed but I love his acceleration off the line and ability to use his frame to create mismatches. The 6'4", 230 pound tight end isn't yet a dominating blocker on the line of scrimmage but that could change as he adds weight in college. He does deliver some vicious blocks when aligned off of the line of scrimmage, showing the dexterity to play at the H back position at the next level. Charlotte was able to hold on to Carrier despite a late offer from Purdue.


FIU Golden Panthers

Shakur Cooper - DE/OLB - Coral Gabbles High School (Coral Gables, FL)

At 6'0" 200 lbs Cooper has a violent burst of speed. Because of his size he also has the strength to bum rush outside tackles. He makes for an ideal pass rushing specialist for the Panthers. Although he lined up at OLB on a few plays none of them had him in coverage. If he's able to become a solid coverage linebacker and add that to his pass rushing ability FIU may have gotten a steal out of Miami's backyard.

FAU Owls

David Belvin - DE/DT - Palmetto High School (Palmetto, FL)

Belvin has great size at 6'3" 225 lbs. He has great speed from sideline to sideline and doesn't just rush the quarterback but he's also a great run stopper as well. You rarely see defensive tackles that tall so he may be more suited as a defensive end but with the lack of players at the position this fall Belvin may see some playing time there. If he does it would be nice to see him add on a few more pounds.

Marshall Thundering Herd

Willie Johnson - WR - South Fort Myers High School (Fort Myers, FL)

Johnson has great stop and go speed. To put it simply, he's a burner. He looks small on the film and will probably need to add more size to adjust to the physicality of the college game to break free of press coverage. He's a decent route runner but will need to run crisper routes as he won't be able to run by defenders so easily at the next level. Lightly recruited, Marshall may have found another diamond in the rough from the Sunshine State.

MTSU Blue Raiders

Ty Nix - DT - Oakland High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)

Nix is an absolute monster on film. What stood out to me was his ability to chase down ball carriers away from the line of scrimmage. Humans at that size aren't supposed to run that well. At 6'1" 270 lbs he's probably used to being the biggest guy on the line in high school. In college that won't necessarily be the case. With that said, I expect him to see ample time with MTSU this season as they're aren't that many guys with that size in Conference USA.

ODU Monarchs

Joe Joe Headen - CB - Bishop McDevitt High School (Harrisburg, PA)

Headen displays good eye discipline and great anticipation on short routes. He looks pretty small on film and is going to need to put on size while he redshirts. That may be why there wasn't many tackles made on film. Despite his size he is still a physical corner and enjoys playing tight coverage due to the luxury of having good speed. He's scrappy and seems to fit the mold of Wilder's chip on the shoulder players.

WKU Hilltoppers

Steven Duncan - QB - Ashley Ridge High School

The next Brandon Doughty? Let's not jump ahead of ourselves here but Duncan looks to have the same skill set. While he'll never be confused for a dual-threat quarterback, Duncan's think 6'5" frame is perfect for a pocket passer like himself. Duncan has a plus arm and is really quick in his dropbacks and release. Extending plays out of the pocket isn't Duncan's strong suit, but how many times was Doughty asked to do that in his time at WKU? Duncan is a perfect fit for Jeff Brohm's system and could play early given his arm strength.