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Sun Belt Programs Sign 22 JUCO Players During Signing Period

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Five Sun Belt teams signed 22 JUCO players for the 2016 recruiting class. Which team did the best job in finding players that will help the program immediately?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it comes from a need to to JUCO out of high school or wanting a change of scenery after starting their college career, there are so many different reasons for a player to take the JUCO route. Waiting on the other side for the most talented is a shot to transfer to a four-year institution to play college football on the FBS level.

Nearly half of the Sun Belt programs have taken advantage of the JUCO tranfer period and signed players. South Alabama, Troy, and Texas State all signed five or more JUCO transfers for the upcoming season.

Let's take a look at the Sun Belt and how the programs did during the JUCO transfer window.

South Alabama:

The Jaguars, coming off of a 5-7 season, brought in the biggest JUCO class among Sun Belt teams. With five incoming JUCO players on the defensive side of the ball among their six signees, they are desperate to fix the defensive issues that plagued the 2015 season.

A surprise among the group could be on the offensive side. Two-star tight end Andrew Reinkemyer could be a great compliment to Gerald Everett and allow South Alabama to open up the middle of the field in the passing game.

The Jaguars brought in two ready to play defensive backs. Neiko Robinson of Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and Diante Thomas of Butler CC at least one of the two should have a chance at earning playing time in 2016.

Linebacker Darrell Songy is coming from Garden City CC and should be a good fit after the Jaguars lose Blake Dees to graduation. He originally signed with Oregon State, but went the JUCO route instead. Romello Riley from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and Zach Befort from Butler CC should give some size and stability to the South Alabama defensive line. Befort was with Kansas State for one season.

Troy:

Another team to make a splash on JUCO signing day was the Troy Trojans. Five players joined the ranks from JUCO programs, led by former Auburn wide receiver Dominic Walker.

Walker, one of three offensive signees, is a three-star wide receiver that took the long way to Troy. Enrolling at Auburn out of high school, he was redshirted by the program before spending last season with Itawamba CC. He is joined at wide receiver by two-star Tevaris McCormick. The 5-9 wideout spent the last two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, accumulating nearly 700 receiving yards and 600 rushing yards.

Rounding out the offensive signees is lineman Brandon Niccum. The two-star Navarro College product projects to be in competition for a spot at guard.

On defense, a pair of Hinds CC players will join the fold. Safety Kris Weatherspoon, a two-star recruit, made 60 tackles and five pass break up in 2015. Defensive tackle Baron Poole, a two-star recruit, made 38 tackles, six sacks, and five tackles for loss in 2015.

New Mexico State:

Rarely does a team ever flat out tell you their offensive plan for the next season with JUCO signees. The Aggies seemed to do so with a four-member class that includes three wide receivers and a quarterback.

A pair of wideouts from Ellsworth CC, Jonathan Boone and Jaleel Scott, head to NMSU after signing with the program. Both put up virtually identical statistics and are huge targets at 6-5 and 6-3. It will be interesting to see how the Aggies incorporate the duo with Teldrick Morgan and Tyrian Taylor both back for their senior seasons. Adding into the mix is two-star recruit Josh Aganon of Mesa CC. He caught 62 passes in 2015 and projects to be more of a slot receiver with NMSU.

Rounding out the class is 2-star quarterback Conner Cramer from New Mexico Military Institute. Cramer is an interesting player and could allow the Aggies to experiment with moving Andrew Allen to wide receiver.

Idaho:

Looking to replace some offense that was missing on the outside after Dezmon Epps was dismissed from the team, Idaho got a talented JUCO wide receiver in Alfonso Onunwor. The 2-star receiver out of Coffeyville CC has great size a 6-2 and was very productive with 75 catches and 10 touchdowns in 2015.

Joining Onunwor is the road grating fullback Josh Herman. The 250 pound 2-star recruit out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College should get his shot to block in the Vandals running game immediately. He is already the biggest fullback on the roster.

Texas State:

The Bobcats, looking to rebound from a disastrous 2015 season, did a very good job in securing five players from the JUCO ranks. Led by three-star linebacker Gabe Loyd, the Bobcats brought in two tight ends, a wide receiver, a cornerback, and the mentioned linebacker.

Boyd is a tackling machine at middle linebacker with over 100 tackles in each of his two seasons at Fort Scott CC.

Tight end Levi Boyd, out of Grossmont CC, has shown skill receiving. But at 6-5, 245 pounds, he should be a solid blocker on the edge as well. Buddy Tuamasa, out of Tyler JC, is 256 pounds and should be like an extra lineman on the field for the Bobcats.

The Bobcat brought in another haul with 3-star wide reciever Elijah King. The Kentucky native played for Santa Barbara CC in 2015, accumulating 54 catches for 637 yards and seven touchdowns. At 6-1, 185 pounds, he should be able to slip in a help the Texas State passing game immediately.

Finally, the Bobcats addressed their defensive struggles a bit with the signing of 2-star cornerback Quinn Tiggs. The Itawamba CC player picked Texas State over offers from Indiana, MTSU, North Texas, South Alabama, and Southern Miss. If he is kept at cornerback, he will be the tallest on the roster at 6-1, 190 pounds.

No Signees:

Georgia Southern, Louisiana Monroe, Georgia State, Louisiana, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, have not signed anyone from the JUCO ranks.