Going big: Cowboys target linemen in Goff’s first recruiting class

With his first signing class as the McNeese State head football coach, Gary Goff put out his blueprint for success.

Goff signed 13 Wednesday, giving McNeese 22 newcomers. Seven of those are transfers who inked with the Cowboys early and are already on campus.

“I’m extremely happy with this class,” Goff said.

Of the 22 players, 11 were offensive, 10 defensive with one kicker.

Goff also went big, signing 10 linemen, six on offense, which was a major need based on last year. And that is a meaty group, averaging roughly 6-foot-5, 302 pounds.

“When it comes to the offensive and defensive lines, size matters,” Goff said. “We didn’t go looking for any particular size, but it is good to have that, and athletic players.

“We knew that the offensive line was an area of concern. You can never have enough offensive and defensive linemen.”

Goff’s staff had to work fast after getting a late start after being hired on Dec. 20. They had eight days on the road.

Pointing to Greg Knox III from Peabody High, a 6-6, 300-pounder, Goff said the Cowboys were able to beat out offers from all other Southland Conference schools.

McNeese also signed five defensive backs, two of whom are transfers. The Cowboys lost a pair of all-SLC players from last year’s secondary to the NCAA transfer portal.

Goff earlier went into the portal and plucked out Virginia Tech quarterback Knox Kadum, who played three years with the Hokies. He is the likely clubhouse leader to replace Cody Orgeron as a starter.

Kadum was 7 of 10 for 85 yards as a backup at Virginia Tech. The was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and someone Goff knows well.

“Knox is a very dynamic player and adds to the talent at that position,” Goff said. “But we have some others on the roster already who should make that an interesting battle.”

Goff said transfer Walker Wood, who came from Kentucky in 2020 as a quarterback but moved to wide receiver last season, will be included in the position battle.

“The thing about Walker is he has said he would like to start at quarterback but will do what is best for the team,” Goff said.

For this coaching staff, Goff said the hard part was figuring out what was needed because they hadn’t seen anybody play in person.

“It was kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together without having all the pieces,” Goff said.

Goff said McNeese left four scholarships open in case he finds anybody of need in the portal.

“We will not be against picking up anybody but you have to do your homework on guys with only one year left,” he said. “You want them to add to your culture.”

McNeese State Class of 2022 Signees

High School

Sedric Applewhite DE 6-6/200 Bossier City (HS)

First-team all-District 1-3A … Selected to West All-Star team in the I-20 Bowl … finished with 57 tackles, 10 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss and 4 forced fumbles.

Crajaun Bennett CB 5-11/160 Iowa (HS)

All-District 4-3A honorable mention … 30 tackles, 17 solos … picked off 3 passes with 66 interception return yards … broke up 10 passes and blocked two field goal attempts.

Phillip Bradford DL 6-6/318 Monroe (Ouachita)

First-team all-District 2-5A … helped lead Ouachita to a tri-district championship, a 9-4 record and an appearance in the Class 5A state quarterfinals.

Austin Cowart OL 6-5/335 Webster, Fla. (Sumter)

Two-time all-state … two-time all-district … played in Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Football Classic.

Hayes Creel OL 6-7/300 Mount Hermon (St. Paul)

First-team all-District 6-5A … first-team all-parish … second team Class 5A all-state … academic all-state … team finished 8-3 and 6-1 in district.

Jayden Davis OT 6-4/280 Beaumont (West Brook)

Second-team 21-6A all-district honors … blocked for a quarterback who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 27 TDs … part of an OL that led a rushing game to more than 200 yards per game.

Javon Davis WR 6-0/170 New Orleans (John Curtis)

Had 56 catches for 876 yards and nine TDs … 29 catches for 340 yards and 5 TDs his junior season … averaged 15.6 yards per catch … also played defense and made 44 tackles with a tackle for a loss as a senior.

Jayln Easton OL 6-5/295 Lake Charles (LCCP)

Second-team 4-3A all-district … lelped lead Lake Charles College Prep to 8-2, 5-0 record … will reunite with former HS teammate Dillon Simon … offered by Grambling, according to Rivals.

Tyronne Hayes WR 6-3/205 New Orleans (Rummel)

Also played TE … team posted a 5-4 record, 3-3 in district, and qualified for the Division IV playoffs … 5 TDs, including three rushing TDs … made 5 catches for 67 yards in a win over St. Augustine.

Trevor Jones OLB 6-4/215 Willis, Texas (HS)

Recorded 74 tackles with 66 solos … had three sacks and forced two fumbles … team advanced to the second round of the University Interscholastic League Texas Football State Championships.

Greg Knox OL 6-6/305 Pineville (Peabody)

First-team Class 4A all-state … first-team all-District 3-4A … all-CENLA … Ranked as the fifth-best OL prospect in the state by Dandy Don website.

Masey Lewis DE 6-4/250 Breaux Bridge (LCA)

First-team all-District 6-2A … first-eam Acadiana All-Metro … 48 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks in helping Lafayette Christian Academy to the district title and Division III championship game appearance.

Jarvis Newton II RB 5-11/190 Alexandria (HS)

First Team All-District 2-5A … LSWA Class 5A All-State Honorable Mention … Rushed for 1,157 yards on 166 carries with 20 TDs … Rushed for 256 yards and 5 TDs in an early-season game against St. Thomas More.

Jordan Toaston OLB/DE 6-3/230 (BR-Catholic)

Second-team all-District 5-5A … rated as one of the top 150 prep prospects in Louisiana by Dandy Don … helped Baton Rouge Catholic to the Division I state championship with a 12-1 record, beating Jesuit 14-10 in the final.

Joe Ward DB 5-11/170 Lake Charles (LCCP)

As a junior, had a 12-tackle game in the Class 3A state semifinals.


Tyler Barnes CB 5-10/190 Southern Miss

D’Iberville, Miss., native … Played in 42 games in four seasons at USM … 73 tackles in career with one interception in 2020 … rated a two-star recruit by Rivals and Scout.

Jayce Bludau LB 6-1/220 Kilgore (Texas) CC

Halletsville, Texas native … At Kilgore, had 47 tackles, 3 for loss with 1 interception and fumble recovery … season-high 9 tackles with a tackle for a loss in a win over Navarro (Texas) College.

Knox Kadum QB 6-3/185 Virginia Tech

Rome, Ga., native … played three seasons at Virginia Tech, completed 7 of 10 passes for 85 yards in reserve action … three-star recruit by 247 Sports’ composite rankings out of HS … as senior, threw for 1,633 yards with 21 TDs and no INTs, while rushing for 619 yards and 11 TDs.

Richard Leclair OL 6-3/297 Valdosta St.

Middleburg, Fla., native … At Valdosta State, a part of an OL that reached Division II championship game … the Blazers’ offense led the NCAA in total offense with a 528 ypg … fifth in the NCAA in rushing (268 ypg) and 30th in passing yards per game (260).

Marcus McElroy Jr. RB 6-0/203 Colorado St.

Denver native … appeared in 33 games at Colorado State, 11 starts … rushed for 708 yards, 6 TDs with 10 receptions for 89 yards … 370 yards rushing with 3 scores in 2019 season … rated as the Class of 2017 No. 7 prospect in Colorado (Rivals and 247Sports).

Jermaine McMillian DB 6-2/195 Cent. Florida

Miami native … At UCF, three-time American Athletic Conference all-academic honors … redshirt sophomore season, played in all 10 games and recorded 25 tackles … career-high 11 tackles vs. BYU in Boca Raton Bowl.

C.J. Moya K 5-9/180 Hutchinson (Kan.) CC

Naples, Fla., native … second-team all-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference … Connected on 57 of 60 point-after kicks and 6 of 10 FG attempts … scored 75 points … ranked second in the league in PAT percentage.

Source: McNeese State sports information department

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