Martin inks 27 in first recruiting class at Mesa
For the first time since he was hired two weeks ago, Colorado Mesa University football coach Russ Martin could finally take a deep breath and sigh of relief.
Martin received 27 letters of intent Wednesday on the first day of the two-month signing period. The new additions include four local players, three junior college transfers and seven from out of state.
“It’s been an exciting day,” Martin said. “In two weeks, I think we had 43 (recruits) on campus.
“I would not have expected (27). I’m extremely pleased with it. We have some really quality players. We’ll still keep recruiting. There’s still some good kids available.”
Several recruits visited campus last weekend and saw the Mesa men’s basketball team upset No. 3 Metro State.
“Last weekend was a perfect weekend for the young men to visit for several reasons,” Martin said. “Our current players did a great job of hosting these guys. Then, the excitement of the basketball games was tremendous.
“A lot of the recruits remarked about what an exciting environment there was on campus.”
The new Mavs include seven linebackers and six wide receivers, two specific positions of need. Mesa graduated 12, including five linebackers and three receivers.
“We got a couple receivers that are big-time playmakers,” Martin said. “We got some linebackers that can run and hit.”
Grand Junction’s Jerreon Dennis and Chandon Rose and Fruita Monument’s Cameron Brown and Cody Daniels faxed in their letters Wednesday; Daniels and Brown will have their signing ceremony today.
Rose will play receiver for the Mavericks.
“Chandon is a playmaker,” Martin said. “He’s a physical kid and makes plays.
“Jerreon is the same way. He’s tough, he’s fast. Some say he won’t break the 60- and 80-yard runs in college. We sat there and watched I don’t know how many 40-plus yard runs he made in high school. He’s fast and strong. He makes guys miss. He’s going to have the big runs. Our intention is to play him at tailback.”
Dennis led all classifications with 2,354 rushing yards and made the Denver Post All-Colorado team.
Daniels, a safety, will line up across from his brother, wide receiver Tyler Daniels.
“He’s an athletic kid. Multiple-sport athlete, which I think will help him in college,” Martin said.
Brown (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) will play offensive line.
Two quarterbacks signed, including Arizona all-state selection and regional player of the year Kyle Duran (6-0, 205).
He completed 203 of 349 passes for 3,077 yards with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for Basha (Ariz.) High School. He led his team to the Division I state semifinals.
“(Duran) throws the ball really, really well,” Martin said. “He knows and understands defenses, coverages and knows how to distribute the ball.”
The Mavs added a junior college receiver, Turmour Battle, who played at Denver South High School. Donald Landrum, another Denver South product, has explosive playmaking ability and speed.
Mesa signed four offensive linemen.
On defense, the Mavericks picked up one defensive end and four defensive backs.
Defensive end Taylor Schultz (6-3, 210) of Grandview High School in Aurora was an all-state selection and a two-time academic all-state pick.
“(Schultz) is a high-motor kid,” Martin said. “He was a two-way starter at Grandview. You don’t find too many two-way starters at the high school level in the large class in Colorado. His dad is a head coach and he is a competitor.”
One of the linebackers, Zach Hamm of Tempe, Ariz., is the younger brother of running back J.R. Hamm, whose career was cut short by a shoulder injury.
Defensive back Frank deBraga (Fallon, Nev.) has two older brothers on the team, Trent and Trevor deBraga.
Martin added two more coaches to his staff, former Mesa quarterback Phil Vigil and Martin’s son, Ben. They join defensive coordinator Todd Auer, line coach Phil Johnston, defensive backs coach Miles Kochevar and graduate assistant Seth Damron.
Vigil led the Mavericks to their most recent Division II playoff appearance in 2007 and was an assistant at Division II perennial national contender Northwest Missouri State the past two years.
“He’ll be helping the quarterbacks, running backs,” Martin said. “He’ll be helping a lot because he understands the offense.”
Ben Martin was an assistant on Chadron State’s staff the past six years with Auer.