Carson-Newman inks 27 players on National Signing Day

Published: Feb. 4, 2015 at 10:24 PM EST
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CARSON-NEWMAN 2015 Signing Day Class:

Yuriy Bulay – Fairview, Tenn. – 6-0 – 170 – Defensive Back (committed 4:18 p.m.)

Yuriy Bulay stockpiled 198 tackles, seven tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble over his final two seasons play for Chris Hughes at Fairview High School. Bulay was an All-District and All-Region selection during those final years that included a defensive MVP award.

The son of Peter and Nataylia will major in business at Carson-Newman.

Cody Reed – Powell, Tenn. – 6-0 – 235 – DE (committed 4:18 p.m.)

A 6-0 235-pound defensive end for coach Larry Neely at Powell High School, Cody Reed tallied 85 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles in his senior season.

Reed was an all-district selection as well as an NVC All-American. He was named the Defensive Lineman of the Year in his junior season and team MVP.

Reed is the son of Susan and Jackie Reed. His father played football at Virginia Tech.

Braxton Dockery – Seymour, Tenn. – 6-3 – 190 – S (committed 4:18 p.m.)

Braxton Dockery played safety and wide receiver for coach Gary Rankin at Alcoa High School. He was an all-county and all-district selection for Alcoa and helped the Tornados to a state title in 2013 and a state runner up in 2014.

Dockery is the son of Stacie Dockery. His brother Birdie played football at Georgia Southern. Another brother, Brandon played football at Pikeville, and a third brother Bryson played football collegiately at the University of the Cumberlands. Dockery plans to study education at Carson-Newman.

Zachary Johnson – Lenoir City, Tenn. – 6-0 – 165 – CB (committed 4:17 p.m.)

A defensive back for Jeff Cortez at Lenoir City High School, Zachary Johnson earned all-county and all-district accolades.

He carried a 3.0 GPA and is the son of Clark and Stacy Johnson. He is undecided on a major.

PJ Gardner – Rossville, Ga. – 6-1 – 240 – LS/OL (committed 4:14 p.m.)

A Ridgeland Panther, PJ Gardner starred as a lineman for coach Mark Mariakis. Gardner started every game of his high school career and earned all-region first team accolades as an offensive lineman.

He was named his school's special teams player of the year and offensive lineman of the year. He won Ridgeland's Golden Helmet Award three years running.

He helped Ridgeland to a state final in 2012, a regional title in 2012 and the state playoffs in 2011.

The son of Paul Gardner, he plans to study biology at C-N. Academically he earned a Georgia certificate of merit. He was a D.A.R representative and a Governors Honors program nominee. He ranked in the top 10 percent academically in Walker County was third out of 267 students in his graduating class. Registered a perfect 4.0 high school GPA with honors classes in French, English, math and history.

John Watts – Maryville, Tenn. – 6-3 – 271 – OL – Twitter: @jwatt57 (committed 4:12 p.m.)

John Watts played for legendary coach George Quarles at Maryville High School. The former Rebel was a three-year varsity letterman and helped the Rebels to a Tennessee 6A runner-up trophy in 2012 and state titles in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He went 59-1 in high school.

Watts is the son of Greg and Tracy Watts. His father was a scholarship golfer at Tennessee while his mother cheered at Carson-Newman. His grandfather, Dr. James Crutchfield, played baseball at C-N. Watts received a letter in science in high school and is on the plus side of a 3.0 GPA. He plans to study sports medicine at Carson-Newman.

Jordan Whitaker – Antioch, Tenn. – 6-4 – 295 – DL – Twitter: @jordinobuella (committed 4:10 p.n.)

A defensive lineman for coach Shaun Bell at Lancaster Christian Academy, Jordan Whitaker played football and basketball and ran track in high school. He tallied 60 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss on the grid iron his senior year.

Whitaker was his team's MVP and was presented with the Captain's Award his junior and senior years.

Whitaker is the son of Karmen and Harry Whitaker. He plans to study Kinesiology at C-N. Whitaker was also recruited by UT-Martin, Austin Peay and UT-Chattanooga.

Bert Dailey – Huntersville, N.C. – 6-4 – 275 – OL (committed 4:07 p.m.)

Bert Dailey was the 2014 offensive line MVP for coach Miles Aldridge at William Amos High School.

Dailey helped WAHS to a NCHSAA 4AA third round state playoff appearance and a Mecka 4A conference runner-up trophy.

Dailey is the son of Andrew and Elizabeth Dailey. He plans to study Exercise Science at Carson-Newman.

Bailey Feathers – Johnson City, Tenn. – 6-5 – 250 – OL (committed 3:58 p.m.)

Bailey Feathers was an offensive lineman for coach Stacy Carter at Science Hill High School. He earned all-conference honorable mention honors as a senior for the Hilltoppers.

He helped Science Hill to a conference title.

Feathers is the son of Chris and Lisa Feathers. He is undecided on a major.

Chase Jamerson – Memphis, Tenn. - 6-0 – 185 – LB – Twitter: @pfochodza (committed 3:56 p.m.)

Chase Jamerson averaged five tackles per game for coach Jake Whittaker at Memphis Catholic High School. Jamerson was the Chargers team captain.

The son of Alisha Jamerson, Chase is a member of the national honor society and the honor roll. He also played golf and soccer in high school. His cousin, Darcell Johnson, played football at Memphis.

Marshall Cooper – Hixson, Tenn. – 6-0 – 195 – LB (ccommitted 3:47 p.m.)

Marshall Cooper played linebacker for Dan Duff at Hixson High School. His senior year he totaled 11 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles. On the other side of the ball, he racked up 738 yards and eight TDs on 132 carries. He also caught three balls for 131 yards and score.

Cooper was named the 6-AA Player of the Year and first team All-Chattanooga on River City Sports.

He helped Hixson to back-to-back district titles in 2013 and 2014. The son of Kendall Morgan, Cooper plans to study exercise science at C-N. His grandfather Kendall Morgan also played football at Carson-Newman.

Trey Torres – Jacksboro, Tenn. – 5-10 -185 – WR/DB – Twitter: @trey_torres (committed 2:54 p.m.)

Trey Torres starred for coach Justin Prince at Campbell County High School as a defensive back and wideout. Torres tallied 2,145 career receiving yards on 159 grabs. He scored 34 touchdowns in his time starring for the Cougars.

On the defensive side of the ball, Torres totaled 151 career stops with 10 picks.

He was a TSWA 5A All-State wide receiver and a three-time all-district pick. He earned second team all-PrepXtra honors. He was a part of the winningest senior class in Campbell County history. He helped the Cougars to a district title in his junior season.

Torres is the son of Lori Torres. He plans to study accounting at Carson-Newman. He carried a 3.8 GPA in high school.

Tyler Price – Chilhowie, Va. – 6-3 – 280 – TE/OL (committed 11:29 a.m.)

Tyler Price comes to Carson-Newman from Chilhowie High School after playing for coach Jeff Robinson. Price was a four-year letter winner for the Warriors and a three-year starter.

Price was an all-conference tight end as a junior. As a senior, he earned all-conference, all-district and all-region honors. He was selected to play in the 2014 FCA All-Star game. He finished his senior year with 305 yards receiving on 27 catches. He scored seven touchdowns.

While blocking as a junior, Price helped the Warriors set a single-season school record for rushing yards as a team with 3,250. He helped Chilhowie to its first district championship in 12 years.

The son of Daniel and Deborah Price, Price is a member of the academic honor roll, the Beta Club and will finish his high school career with a GPA above a 3.8. He plans to study business administration at Carson-Newman.

Antonio Henderson – Palmetto, Fla. – 6-0 – 195 – SS (committed 11:24 a.m.)

Antonio Henderson played safety for Joe Kinnan and Jay Booth at Manatee High School. Henderson totaled 80 tackles between his sophomore and junior years with 16 tackles for loss. He ratcheted up his defensive production his senior year with 87 stops. He averaged 7.3 tackles per game with 67 total solo stops.

Henderson made 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage as a senior with two sacks and two interceptions. He had a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown. Henderson broke up eight passes, forced one fumble and also blocked two punts. He had 14 solo tackles in a regional final victory over Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando.

He was named the Brighthouse Networks Player of the Game for his performance in the Hurricanes' win over Dr. Phillips High School. As a freshman, he helped Manatee to a state championship.

The son of Traci Somano Tobias, Henderson is undecided on a major. Henderson was also recruited by Marist and Prairie View A&M.

Jaysen Cook-Calhoun – Hoover, Ala. - 6-2 – 210 – LB – Twitter: @authentic_jay15 (committed 10:40 a.m.)

Jaysen Cook-Calhoun joins the Eagle football program after a high school career under coach Josh Niblett at Hoover High School. The linebacker had 56 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and four sacks as a senior.

Cook-Calhoun made the All-Over-The-Mountain team and the Alabama Sports Writers' All-State team as a senior.

Cook-Calhoun helped maintain Hoover's status as a national powerhouse, helping the Buccaneers to a 2013 national title and Alabama state championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

He is the son of Voilanda Cook-Calhoun and Jason Cook. His father played corner and safety at Auburn. He selected Carson-Newman over UT-Chattanooga, Troy, Kennessaw State and Delta State. Cook-Calhoun plans to major in architecture at C-N.

Brian Bembry – Parrish, Fla. – 6-3 – 255 – DL – Twitter: @fc49be65b24b448 (Committed 10:34 a.m.)

Brian Bembry clocks in at 6-3, 255 pounds after starting on the defensive line for Dave Marino at Palmetto High School. His senior year he collected 61 tackles. More impressively, he forced 10 fumbles, made six sacks, 31 tackles for loss and scored a defensive touchdown.

He was named his team's defensive MVP and most dominant player. A member of the all-state second team in Florida's class 7A, Bembry was invited to the Florida North/South All-Star Game. He also earned all-area honors and Elite 11 honors in his state at DT.

Bembry was offered scholarships by Kent State, Pitt, Wake Forest, FIU, and Purdue but says he chose Carson-Newman "for many reasons but the main reason was because Carson-Newman always puts God first."

He is the son of Gary and Sandy Bembry. Brian plans to study nursing at Carson-Newman.

Marcus Williams – Apopka, Fla. – 5-9 – 175 - RB – Twitter: @mawilliams1997 (committed 10:08 a.m.)

Marcus Williams checks at 5-9, 175 pounds after starring for coach Matt Hedrick at Bishop Moore Catholic High School. As a Hornet, Williams touted 26 touchdowns in 14 games to lead his district in his senior year. Williams also led the district in yards with 1,517. He added 2,083 all-purpose yards.

In his senior season, he was the conference's player of the year, team MVP and a Florida All-State honorable mention selection. Williams was also a nominee for the Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Football Player of the Year. He earned the 2014 Orlando Area All-Star Jeff Wenstrom Sportsmanship Award.

Williams also ran track and high school and is his school's record-holder in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. He was also on the school-record holding 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams.

In 2014, he helped guide Bishop Moore Catholic High School to an undefeated regular season for just the second time in school history. The Hornets were both conference and regional champions.

The son of Rafael Oliver and Karen Galasso-Oliver, Williams plans to study business management at Carson-Newman. Williams credits running backs coach Nick Reveiz for bringing him to Carson-Newman. "I talked with him a lot once he found me," Williams wrote. "His words of encouragement and support through my recruiting process was like no other coach that was recruiting me."

Williams was also recruited by Catawba, Lenoir-Rhyne, Valpairaso and Beloit.

Brandon Ballard – Dallas, Ga. – 5-11 – 250 – DL – Twitter: @frenzyxbefrendy (committed 9:51 a.m.)

Brandon Ballard is a 5-11, 250-pound defensive lineman from Paulding Country High School. Ballard starred for coach Scott Hamilton racking up 105 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, six sacks, four pass break ups and three fumble recoveries in his senior year.

Ballard holds the Paulding County career sack record with 16. A star wrestler and track star – Ballard helped PCHS by placing fourth in the Wrestling Georgia Traditional Wrestling tournament his junior year.

On the football field he was a three-time first team all-region (5A) selection. He earned defensive MVP honors from his team two years running and the team's best defensive lineman three years running. He was voted the best lineman in region 5A and earned athlete of the week honors in 2013 from Paulding Neighbor Newspaper.

Off the field he is a member and officer of the Future Business Leaders of America. The son of Ron and Chonia Ballard, Brandon plans to study accounting/health administration at C-N. He was also recruited by the Air Force Academy, Naval Academy and Army, as well as Kennesaw State, Furman, Southern, Mercer and Valdosta State.

Omar Smith – Fayette, Ala. – 5-8 – 175 – DB – Twitter: @1RISING_KING (committed 9:24 a.m.)

Omar Smith is a 5-7, 170-pound defensive back from Fayette County High School in Fayette, Ala. He played for Lance Tucker and was the Tigers' leading tackler two years running.

He forced an absurd 21 fumbles and had a defensive touchdown in his high school career. Smith also tallied 48 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and had a pick in his high school career.

Smith was an all-region selection and his team's defensive MVP two years in a row. He was also presented his team's "Hustle Award" and received a Fayette County Athlete Award.

Smith helped the Tigers to a state runner-up as a sophomore.

Smith is the son of Virginia Smith. He is undecided on a major.

Chris Cifers – Elizabethton, Tenn. – 6-2 – 255 – OL (committed 9:18 a.m.)

Chris Cifers makes the trek to Mossy Creek from Elizabethton, Tenn. and Elizabethton High School. While playing for Shawn Witten, Cifers was named the Cyclones Ironman in 2011. He was named all-Three Rivers Conference twice, and Lifter of the Year twice. He was also named to the All-Tri-County team in his senior year as well as the Three Rivers Conference Lineman of the Year.

He helped the Cyclones to Three Rivers Conference titles in 2012 and 2013 an a state semi-final appearance in 2013.

The son of Karen Cifers, Chris is a member of the National Honor Society and the 2014 recipient of the Cyclone Football Achievement Award. Cifers has a football pedigree. His grandfather Bob Cifers played for the University of Tennessee before playing professionally for the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers. His great uncle, Ed Cifers, also played at Tennessee before moving on to the NFL and the Chicago Bears. Cifers is undecided on a major at C-N.

Demetrius Harris – Stone Mountain, Ga. – 6-2 – 236 – ATH – Twitter: @demeat_33 (committed 9:15 a.m.)

Harris comes to Carson-Newman from Decatur High School after playing for coach Scott Jackson. On defense for the Bulldogs, Harris tallied 146 career tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and eight interceptions. On the offensive side of the ball, Harris averaged 6.6 yards per rush with 521 yards gained on the ground.

He also caught 21 balls for 369 yards. He found the end zone nine times.

Harris was a first team all-state and all-region selection. He played in Georgia All-Star games his junior and senior years.

Received his team's "Unsung Hero" award his junior season prior to being named Best Defensive Lineman as a senior.

Harris is the son of Stephanie Harris. He plans to study physical education at Carson-Newman.

Devon Mims – Auburn, Ga. – 6-1 – 315 – OL – Twitter: @MrMims68 (committed 9:12 a.m.)

Devon Mims was a four-year player for coach Tommy Jones as an offensive lineman. He averaged a 90 percent blocking grade all four years of high school. He was the Gwinnett County Player of the Month for September 2014. He earned all-Gwinnett County honors as a first team member his senior year.

Mims was also a member of the Gwinnett County All-Star team his senior season. Mims was a team captain, the 2013 Offensive Lineman of the Year and the Blue Collar award winner.

He is the son of Juan and Casey Mims. Mims plans to study business management at Carson-Newman.

Hayden Hester – Kingston, Tenn. - 6-3 – 290 - DL - Twitter: @Hhester7 (committed 9:02 a.m.)

Hayden Hester comes to Carson-Newman after playing two ways on the line at Midway for coach Joe Campbell. Hester tallied 79.5 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a senior for the Green Wave.

Hester was a two-time all-state selection, a two-time all-district selection and the District 3A defensive and offensive lineman of the year in 2013 and 2014.

He earned first team all-PrepXtra accolades as a senior and was a team captain and the defensive MVP of the East-West All-Star game. He also played in the Tennessee v. Kentucky Border Bowl and was a team captain for the game.

The son of Paul and Melinda Hester, Hayden plans to study criminal justice at C-N. He was a nominee for the Roane County Youth Leadership. He says he selected Carson-Newman because it was the best place for him to grow "spiritually, mentally and physically."

Jacoby Jackson – Dalonega, Ga. – 6-3 – 290 – OL (committed 8:13 a.m.)

A star offensive lineman for coach Ty Maxwell at Lumpkin County High School, Jackson registers at 6-3, 290 pounds. He is the Indians' all-time record holder for knockdowns with 125 in his high school career. He had a 95 percent career grade along the offensive line.

Jackson was named second team all-state as a senior. He also garnered first team all-7AAA region and first team all-area honors that year. He participated in the 2015 GACA All-Star game and was presented with the Lumpkin County High School Lineman Award.

He helped LCHS to a 2014 7AAA region runner-up trophy. With Jackson blocking, Lumpkin County played its first ever home playoff game and the fifth in school history in his senior year.

Jackson is the son of Jon and Susie Jackson. He is undecided on a major at C-N.

Tyson Herron – Bogart, Ga. – 6-0 – 180 – QB (committed 8:00 a.m.)

Tyson Herron makes his way to Mossy Creek from Prince Avenue Christian School where he played for his father Jeff Herron. A dual threat quarterback, Herron rushed for 877 yards and 17 touchdowns while passing for 1.361 yards and 14 scores as a senior.

He was a GACA first team all-state honoree, an 8-A all-region first team honoree and a participant in the northeast Georgia All-Star game. Herron was a four-time region champion. He won two region championships at Camden Country High School as a freshman and sophomore before winning two more as a junior and senior at Prince Avenue Christian.

The son of Jeff and Inka Herron, Tyson comes from an athletic family. His grandfather Kenneth Winningham played basketball at Tennessee Tech. His father was a football star at Emory and Henry while his mother played volleyball at Tennessee Tech. He brother is Major Herron – who earned first team All-SAC honors at Lenoir-Rhyne and helped guide the Bears to their first of four consecutive South Atlantic Conference titles. His sister Taylor plays soccer for Georgia Southwestern and has played in 12 games as a key defender.

Herron was a member of the Beta Club and either an A or AB honor roll member all four years of his high school career.

Phalen Booker – Waveland, Miss. - 6-0 – 240 – DL - Mid-year transfer (committed 7:48 a.m.)

A junior college transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College by way of Bay High. Booker is a NJCAA Academic All-American and led the MFCCC with seven sacks in his sophomore season.

At Bay High, he led the team with 150 tackles.

Booker is a member of the national honor society and Phi Theta Kappa. He is the son of Dorothy Booker.

Nikeem Ladson – Greenville, S.C. - 6-3 – 290 – DL - Mid-year transfer (committed 7:48 a.m.)

Nikeem Ladson transfers to Carson-Newman from South Carolina State where he didn't see any action for the Bulldogs.

Ladson played his high school ball at Wade Hampton High School where he earned all-county honors and was selected HSSR All-State. Ladson also participated in the North/South All-Star game.