The Florida A&M University football team celebrates one of its most impressive recruiting classes to date by signing top ranked defensive prospects in the hopes of improving a defense that lacked depth during the 2006 season.
Head coach Rubin Carter, who will begin his third season as the Rattlers’ head football coach, said this class of signees is one of the best he has seen in his coaching career.
“We were able to research and evaluate these young players to make sure they would fit into our program,” Carter said.
Marcus Hoover, defensive tackles coach, said that this type of success is unusual.
“We were blessed with a plethora of talented defensive lineman,” he said. “Defensive coordinator Coach Huff really did a good job, as he was able to bring in numerous top-ranked defensive players.”
The Rattlers, who are now ranked eighth in defense last season, have signed 18 defensive players for the 2007-2008 season.
“Our defense was a critical area which was neglected before now,” Carter said. “We needed to add size and speed to the defensive unit in order to improve.”
Although the Rattlers displayed a solid offense in 2006 Carter will add depth by signing one quarterback, one running back, two tight-ends and three wide-receivers.
FAMU’s defense struggled in the 2006-2007 season. They recorded only 11 sacks and forced 10 fumbles. They allowed 4.1 yards per rush and ranked at the bottom of the MEAC in rushing defense.
Shawn Mendez of Palm Bay, is one of the many talented defensive lineman that will help improve the Rattler defense.
Mendez recorded 82 tackles and nine sacks his senior year. He was named First Team All-Space Coast and First Team All County.
Erin Montanez, a defensive lineman from Orlando, is another talented recruit FAMU is excited about. Montanez was named First Team All-Seminole County at defensive tackle. He led his team in tackles for loss and was voted Defensive MVP. He recorded 55 tackles in his senior year and earned Second Team All-County honors.
A’Awy Ross, from Rockledge, was the No. 2 ranked linebacker in the state and will now show his talents as a Rattler. Ross, a 6 feet 2 inches, 215 pounder linebacker, was named First Team All-Space Coast and won MVP in the North v. South Florida All-Star Game. He recorded 135 tackles, 15 sacks, four forced fumbles and 20 tackles for loss in his senior year.
Local recruit Jonathon Ferrell will also be added to the Rattler roster as a defensive back. He played in the Taleco Senior Bowl and led his team in defensive touchdowns.
Ferrell alongside other youngsters Gregory Harvey and Aljamar Grant will add depth to the Rattlers growing squad.
Junior quarterback Albert Chester expects great things from these incoming freshman.
“I know Coach Carter is really excited about them and we expect them to step in and contribute in the right way,” Chester said.
In order to improve in the offense, Carter recruited running back Phillip Sylvester from Marianna. Sylvester was First Team All-State and recorded almost 4,000 all-purpose yards and 33 touchdowns in his junior season.
Carter mentioned that depth was definitely needed at the running back position.
“We need to have depth at tailback as well because it’s such a physical position,” Carter said.
The Rattlers signed quarterback Gregory Tobias Lee from Troy, Ala. He led his team to two state championships. He was also named Super 12 Player of the Year.
“Quite a few freshmen will be seen in action 2007,” Carter said. “The player’s learning abilities, physicality and speed will ultimately determine a freshman’s transition from high school to college,” Carter added.
The recruiting class of 2007 also will bring many honor students to FAMU.
“We make this a priority when recruiting,” Carter said. “We try to recruit character and make sure our players can compete in the classroom and on the field.”