First-year NCCU coach Jerry Mack announces 16-man class

Feb. 05, 2014 @ 11:18 PM

Teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will have something serious to deal with if the up-tempo offense that first-year N.C. Central coach Jerry Mack is talking about installing is as efficient as his recruiting.

Today makes it a month on the job for Mack. This is his first gig as a head coach, so he didn’t show up in Durham with a ready-made staff. He had to build one.

But Mack’s a no-excuse guy and on Wednesday — national signing day — announced signing 16 players to his fall class.

Those recruits include 13 players from North Carolina high schools, two from 3-AA state champion Southern High School.

“I said when I was hired that I wanted to make a commitment to recruiting the state of North Carolina,” Mack said.

Southern’s Derrick Mason and Noah Chase are becoming Eagles, entering the nest by way of a very familiar face. Mack hired former Southern coach Adrian “A.J.” Jones, fresh off that state title, to coach NCCU’s running backs.

Jones leveraged his relationships with Mason and Chase, Mack said.

“A.J. did a great job of going in there and selling our program. Obviously, it was easy because he truly believes in the product, because he’s a product of NCCU,” Mack said. “Just his relationships with those young men, wanting to come play for him again in our program for four or five years.”

Jones was a defensive back at NCCU from 1993-97 and coached the position there when the Eagles won Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles in 2005 and 2006.

Mason (5-10, 170) caught 1,201 yards worth of passes last season at Southern. Chase (6-6, 280) was up front blocking for then-junior quarterback Kendall Hinton, who has scholarship offers from Duke, N.C. State and East Carolina.

Hinton could end up at NCCU, Jones being the attraction.

Mack gave props to all of his assistants for staying up late some nights doing their homework on recruits. NCCU’s coaches spent the last 30 days reaching out to players on Twitter, Facebook and Skype, he said.

Four of NCCU’s recruits are transfers from junior colleges, including quarterback Quinn Billerman (6-3, 215). He’s already enrolled in classes at NCCU, having arrived from New Mexico Military Institute. Billerman played at Raleigh’s Ravenscroft School, so he’s familiar with the Triangle. His dad, Kevin, was a Duke point guard in the mid-1970s.

All of NCCU’s incoming transfers are on campus hitting the books and can take advantage of the Eagles’ winter-conditioning program, as well as get some quality reps during the April 11 spring game (6 p.m., O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium).

NCCU’s coaches and players will spend the next couple of months installing offensive and defensive schemes, Mack said. The Eagles will look different on both sides of the ball, he said.

A year ago, Mack was the wide receivers coach at South Alabama. That’s when he began targeting Billerman, his first NCCU recruit.

NCCU’s previous coaching staff had commitments from two players, but Mack said they wound up not being good fits for what he wants the Eagles to do going forward.

The Eagles will do some different things on defense that will require defensive backs who can run and play in space, Mack said.

Recruiting got NCCU some help on the defensive front and “added one linebacker to replace the great one that we had last year,” Mack said.

Mack was referring to Tazmon Foster, who essentially recruited himself to Division I NCCU, showing up on campus with a highlight tape from Division III N.C. Wesleyan in Rocky Mount.

Foster, from Henderson, was the top tackler in the MEAC last season.

There’s talent along Tobacco Road, Mack said.

“This state has great football, and I think it’s a little under-recruited,” Mack said. “I want to make sure during my tenure here that we don’t under-recruit the state of North Carolina.”

The addition of Billerman will create competition at the quarterback position, Mack said.

Jordan Reid was NCCU’s primary signal caller last season. Mack has kept him on as a graduate assistant coach.

NCCU used recruiting to address some needs at wide receiver. The Eagles got longer and bigger at that position, Mack said.

Recruiting never ends, so NCCU’s coaches have their eyes open for talented players looking for a place to land, Mack said.

“We had to play catch-up a little bit, but I think right now we’re on schedule where we need to be,” Mack said.

Mack said he believes he’s landed some winners, with 11 of the 12 high school seniors coming from teams that participated in the 2013 state playoffs, five of those players coming from teams that won state championships.

 

2014 North Carolina Central University Football Recruiting Class

 

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Hometown

Previous School

Video

Mike Robinson

DB

6-1

185

Spencer, NC

North Rowan HS

Video

Derrick Mason

WR

5-10

170

Durham, NC

Southern HS

Video

Ramone Simpson

RB

5-11

185

Wilmington, NC

New Hanover HS

Video

Davanta Reynolds

DB

5-10

190

Tucker, GA

Tucker HS

Video

Jamarcus Johnson

DB

5-10

170

Greensboro, NC

Ben L. Smith HS

Video

Mykael Martin

DB

6-0

170

Greensboro, NC

Dudley HS

Video

Noah Chase

OL

6-6

280

Durham, NC

Southern HS

Video

Daquan Herring

DE

6-3

240

Statesville, NC

Statesville HS

Video

Quentin Atkinson

WR

6-0

190

Raleigh, NC

Georgia Military College

Video

Richard Mitchell

DL

6-5

250

Southaven, MS

Holmes Comm. College

Video

Franky Okafor

WR

6-3

190

Arlington, TX

Trinity Valley Comm. College

Video

Quinn Billerman

QB

6-3

215

Raleigh, NC

New Mexico Military Institute

Video

Michael Gray

LB

6-1

220

Aberdeen, NC

Pinecrest HS

Video

Sterlin Houston

OL

6-4

300

Charlotte, NC

West Mecklenburg HS

Video

Nathaniel Tilque

P/K

6-2

185

Charlotte, NC

Mallard Creek HS

Video

Brandon Galloway

WR

6-2

190

High Point, NC

T. Wingate Andrews HS

Video

 

Mike Robinson

Defensive Back, 6-1, 185

Hometown:  Spencer, N.C.

North Rowan High School

2013:  Named All-Rowan County. Collected 62 tackles (45 solo), 3 interceptions, 12 pass break-ups, 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 4 blocked punts. Team posted 13-1 overall record, with lone loss coming in third round of NCHSAA state playoffs.  Also lettered in basketball.

Derrick Mason

Wide Receiver, 5-10, 170

Hometown: Durham, N.C.

Southern High School

2013:  Named Big Eight All-Conference as a wide receiver. Recorded 58 catches for 1,131 yards and 13 touchdowns. Caught 10 passes for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns in win over Orange H.S. (Nov. 8) to clinch Big Eight Conference championship. Team won NCHSAA 3-AA state championship with 14-2 overall record.

Ramone Simpson

Running Back, 5-11, 185

Hometown: Wilmington, N.C.

New Hanover High School

2013:  Named Second Team All-Mideastern Conference as both a running back and specialist. Amassed 21 touchdowns (19 rushing) and 3,000 all-purpose yards (1,200 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards). Rushed for five touchdowns and 251 yards against Purnell Swett (Sept. 13, 2013). Accounted for five touchdowns - all in the first half – in the first round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs against Northern Durham (Nov. 15, 2013), with 5 carries for 52 yards and 3 touchdowns, and 8 receptions for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Team finished with 9-4 overall record. Received Top Athlete Award at New Hanover High School.

Davanta Reynolds

Defensive Back, 5-10, 190

Hometown:  Tucker, Ga.

Tucker (Ga.) High School

Ranked as a two-star cornerback prospect by Rivals.com. Team posted 14-1 record with only loss in 2013 Georgia 5A state championship game. Also lettered in basketball as a point guard, earning all-region honors.

Jamarcus Johnson

Defensive Back, 5-10, 170

Hometown:  Greensboro, N.C.

Ben L. Smith High School

2013: Named All-Conference (All-Metro).

Mykael Martin

Defensive Back, 6-0, 170

Hometown: Greensboro, N.C.

Dudley High School

2013:  Named to All-Metro all-conference team as a defensive back. Team won NCHSAA 4-A state championship by beating Scotland County in title game to finish season with a perfect 15-0 record. Also lettered in track as a sprinter.

Noah Chase

Offensive Lineman, 6-6, 280

Hometown: Durham, N.C.

Southern High School

2013: Named All-Conference (Big Eight 3-A) and All-Metro (News & Observer) as offensive lineman. Rated 3-star offensive tackle prospect by ESPN. Team won NCHSAA 3-AA state championship with 14-2 overall record. Key blocker for offense that averaged 46.1 points per game.

Daquan Herring

Defensive End, 6-3, 240

Hometown: Statesville, N.C.

Statesville (N.C.) High School

2013:  Amassed 67 tackles (53 solo) for an average of 5.6 tackles per game, including 8.0 hits for a loss, 4.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an interception (MaxPreps.com). Team posted 7-6 record and advanced to the NCHSAA playoffs.

Also lettered in track & field (shot put and discus throw).

Quentin Atkinson

Wide Receiver, 6-0, 190

Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.

Georgia Military College

2013:  13 receptions, 219 yards, 1 touchdown. 3 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown at Ellsworth Community College (Oct. 5, 2013). 2 catches for 40 yards in NJCAA national championship game versus East Mississippi Community College (Dec. 8, 2013). Team 11-1. Only loss of season in NJCAA national championship game.

2012:  22 receptions, 399 yards, 1 touchdown. Team 7-4.

Southeast Raleigh High School

2011: Greater Neuse River Conference 4A All-Conference selection. 55 receptions, 860 yards, 9 touchdowns. Also lettered in basketball and track & field (triple jump, high jump).

Richard Mitchell

Defensive Lineman, 6-5, 250

Hometown: Southaven, Miss.

Holmes Community College (Goodman, Miss.)

2013:  39 tackles (24 solo), 6.5 hits for a loss, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown, 1 blocked kick in nine games. Amassed season-high 8 tackles, including 3 hits for a loss, with a fumble recovery for a touchdown at Northeast Mississippi Community College (Sept. 12, 2013).

2012:  14 tackles (9 solo) in nine games.

Southaven (Miss.) High School: Also lettered in track & field.

Franky Okafor

Wide Receiver, 6-3, 190

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Trinity Valley Community College (Athens, Texas)

2013:  42 receptions, 398 yards, 6 touchdowns. Season-high six catches for 53 yards at Kilgore College (Sept. 14, 2013). 5 catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns at Blinn College (Oct. 12, 2013). Team posted 10-2 record, including nine straight wins to end the season.

Lamar High School (Arlington, Texas): Also lettered in track & field (high jump, triple jump).

Quinn Billerman

Quarterback, 6-3, 215

Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.

New Mexico Military Institute

2013:  12 games, 8-4 record, 2,962 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, 246.8 passing yards per game, 176-of-335 passing, 52.5%, 10 interceptions. Broke NMMI single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. Passed for season-high 494 yards and 6 touchdowns versus Scottsdale Community College on Oct. 5, 2013, completing season-best 23 of 39 passes. Threw for 322 yards and 3 touchdowns at Snow College on Sept. 28, 2013. Named Offensive MVP of the El Toro Bowl by completing 21 passes for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns against Arizona Western on Dec. 7, 2013, in Yuma, Ariz.

2012:  11 games, 6-5 record, 1,938 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 176.2 passing yards per game, 139-of-271 passing, 51.3%, 6 interceptions. Passed for 387 yards and 5 touchdowns at Scottsdale Community College on Oct. 27, 2012. Completed season-best 22 passes on 36 attempts (61.1%) for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns at Eastern Arizona College on Oct. 13, 2012.

Ravenscroft High School (Raleigh, N.C.)

2011:  Finished scholastic career as Ravenscroft’s all-time leading passer with 6,152 yards and 62 touchdown passes from 2009-11. Named to 2011 NCISAA 11-Man Football Division I All-State Team.

2010:  137-of-280 passing for 1,968 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Michael Gray

Linebacker, 6-1, 220

Hometown: Aberdeen, N.C.

Pinecrest High School

2013:  First-Team All-Southeastern Conference selection. Team’s Defensive MVP. Recorded 155 tackles with 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 8 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. Team posted 11-2 record (10-1 in regular season, 1-1 in 4-AA state playoffs).

Sterlin Houston

Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 300

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

West Mecklenburg High School

Three-time All-Conference selection. Named All-County. Placed on AP All-State ballot in 2012. Team advanced to NCHSAA state playoffs and finished with 9-3 record. Also lettered in track & field (shot put, discus throw).

Nathaniel Tilque

Punter/Kicker, 6-2, 185

Hometown:  Charlotte, N.C.

Mallard Creek High School

2013: Averaged 44.0 yards per punt, made 70-of-72 extra-point kicks and 2-of-2 field No. 1 in North Carolina with a perfect 16-0 record.

Brandon Galloway

Wide Receiver, 6-2, 190

Hometown:  High Point, N.C.

T. Wingate Andrews High School

2013:  Caught 21 passes for 432 yards and 6 touchdowns (MaxPreps.com). Team posted 14-1 record to win NCHSAA 2-AA state championship. Earned all-conference honors in track. Also lettered in basketball.