Mesa football coach Martin excited about incoming class
Colorado Mesa football coach Russ Martin and his staff went after and got players from some of the top high school programs in the nation.
The Mavericks signed 24 high school seniors and added four college transfers on the first day of the signing period, which continues through April 1.
“The quality is really good,” Martin said. “I’m really happy with the quality of players. I’m very excited about the talent level. They will challenge our returning guys immediately. These guys are talented players.
“Just look at the programs we’re getting players out of. Valor Christian is one of the premier programs in the state and nation. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) is one of the premier programs. Mater Dei (Los Alamitos, Calif.) has one of the greatest traditions in the country. That’s what I’m excited about.”
The Mavericks added 12 players from Colorado, including four from the Western Slope, and 12 from outside Colorado. Four are from Arizona, three from California, three from Texas and two from Nevada.
Martin picked up five offensive linemen, five linebackers, four quarterbacks, four defensive backs, three defensive linemen, three kickers and a pair of receivers.
Palisade senior Levi Hoaglund (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) will play linebacker for the Mavericks. He was a two-time all-conference and all-state selection.
“Levi is a quality young man and leader,” Martin said. “He is everything you want in a player. He’s a guy that is a whole lot like Jake Edmiston.”
Edmiston, also a Palisade graduate, made the All-America team with an NCAA Division II record 177 tackles last fall as a senior.
Delta wide receiver Ryan Whiteside (6-foot-4, 170 pounds) was a two-time all-conference selection. He led all receivers in Class 3A in receptions (76), yards (1,213) and touchdown catches (15).
“Ryan has phenomenal ability to get the ball,” Martin said. “He has great body control and is deceptively fast. He has great hand-eye coordination. He has a great future.”
Glenwood Springs linebacker Garrett Lowe was a two-time all-conference pick and two-time team captain.
Grand Junction kicker/punter Alex Steiner also signed with Mesa.
Martin is excited about the quarterback competition with the addition of one junior college transfer and three incoming freshmen from this recruiting class.
Sam Hutsell (5-10, 200) threw for 2,726 yards and 31 touchdowns last year to lead San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) College to an 8-3 record.
“Sam is familiar with our system,” Martin said. “We recruited him to Kearney when I was there. He came for his official visit the same weekend I was interviewing at Mesa.”
Cameron Candelaria (El Paso, Texas) was being recruited to play quarterback by Division I programs, including New Mexico, New Mexico State and Boise State, until he had a knee injury. Martin and his staff continued to recruit him. Candelaria is listed as 6-2, 187 pounds.
Quarterback Andrew Cota (Salpointe, Ariz.) was recruited by a lot of Division II programs and had an opportunity to walk on to Division I programs such as Arizona and Arizona State, Martin said. Cota is 5-11, 180.
“Cameron Candelaria and Andrew Cota are both winners,” CMU receivers coach Jeff Wilkerson said. “They come from similar offenses. They have good strong arms and make great decisions with the football.
“We’re extremely excited to get those guys up here. They are among the top of our recruiting class.”
Mesa added five offensive linemen, all from out of state.
“We’ve got some very good athletes at QB and RB, but you win up front, period,” Martin said. “When you can run the ball consistently you’ll have great success. It opens up the bubble screen and other things we do. I think we have some outstanding young men coming in on the offensive line.”
Tyson Mook (6-4, 300) comes out of a traditionally strong program in Bishop Gorman, and Alex McCutcheon (6-3, 265) played at storied Mater Dei. Jordan Thompson (6-4, 250) was on two-time Texas Class 5A state champion at John Guyer High School, and Dario Jimenez (6-4, 280) was an all-district player out of Houston.
College transfers Carlos Aviles (LB, Indiana State), Saleem Cleghornen (DB, Bakersfield College) and Tony White (DB, Texas A&M-Commerce) will all play immediately, Martin said.
Aviles played at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch. Cleghornen and White can play cornerback or safety.
“We’ve got some guys back that can play, but will be pushed by the young guys behind them pushing them,” Martin said. “I’m excited about this recruiting class. Talent level has picked up more. They also have great character. We’ll find out about commitment to the classroom. We have outstanding young men.”