Goff finishes off solid class: McNeese adds coaching help to defense, as well

Published 5:24 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2024

While it doesn’t have the same bang as in the past, the Cowboys added 23 pieces to their roster puzzle Wednesday on National Signing Day.

When you add the 19 newcomers who signed in December, McNeese State’s class has 42 new pieces to the roster puzzle, 25 of those being transfers who have college playing experience on some level.

For the first time in Gary Goff’s three seasons as head coach, McNeese has a full complement of 63 scholarship players on its roster. And the group is getting attention.

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One social media site (@Athlinkd) that covers college football transfers, the Cowboys, who are 5-17 under Goff, including a program-worst 1-10 last season, have the most improved roster in all of Football Championship Subdivision and fifth overall on the Division I level.

“Right now I’m pretty happy with our roster, but we also know things can happen,” Goff said.

Along with Chief of Staff Aaron Ingram, who came on board at the first of the year to run the new recruiting department, Goff announced two additions to his defensive staff.

Josh Brown comes from Texas-El Paso as the co-defensive coordinator to accompany Tony Pecoralo (defensive coordinator). Chaz Scales moves over from Western Carolina to be the defensive passing coordinator.

“They make our staff stronger,” Goff said.

As for Ingram, whose first signing day was Wednesday, Goff said he fits well.

“Aaron is exactly what we hoped to bring in,” he said. “He is a blessing to have here and has great connections throughout the country that has helped.”

As for the players, 10 of the day’s newcomers are on campus having transferred in at the start of the semester. The other 13 are high schoolers who will arrive in the fall.

Of the 10 new transfers, four are on the defensive side with three coming from the Football Bowl Subdivision level, including local product Cejae Ceasar from Iowa High School. Caesar, a defensive back, moves over from Louisiana-Lafayette.

Auburn transfer Stephen Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound redshirt freshman, is the biggest name. He is the fourth FBS signee to join the Cowboys on the defensive line since the end of last season.

“We have got to stop the run,” Goff said. “To be able to add Johnson is big for us. He is a strong player that Auburn didn’t want to lose.”

Goff said the Cowboys invited five area players — St. Louis Catholic kicker/punter Landon Daughdrill and receiver Trey Tate, Sam Houston linebacker Wyatt Fontenot and offensive lineman Conner Long and Barbe quarterback Carson Sanford — as walk-ons.

Goff said that is a direct reflection of the McNeese staff trying to rebuild their recruiting base in the area. He said they spent one week hitting all the high schools in the state and another in Southeast Texas.

One thing Goff added to the day was an update on freshman quarterback Kamden Sixkiller, who had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder in the offseason. Sixkiller displayed good moments in limited time last season after taking over the starting job.

“He is working hard on his rehab,” Goff said of Sixkiller. “He is expected to be able to take part in spring drills but no contact.”

As for the quarterback position, Goff said he hopes to be able to settle on one player this year and not have a long battle through summer and into next fall.

“I don’t want to play musical chairs with the quarterback position again,” he said.