The Wildcats added 20 players, ten offensive and ten defensive, to their roster for the 2016 season. Head coach Ken Collums described the recruiting class as the best during his time at ACU.
“This is the strongest class we’ve signed since I’ve been at ACU,” Collums said. “Every year that we get further into Div. I football, the more and more solid Div. I players we’re attracting and signing.”
ACU football brings in 18 high school seniors and two transfers from Butler County junior college in El Dorado, Kansas and Garden City community college in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
On the offensive side, the Wildcats newest recruiting class is highlighted by the addition of five highly talented and athletic wide receivers.
“We catch and throw the ball pretty efficiently around here,” Collums said. “This group of wide receivers is what sets this recruiting class apart from other guys we’ve brought in. These are guys that will catch a lot of balls over the next four t0 five years. They’re the right guys to help us really make our offense dynamic.”
Donell Dunn is one of the top recruits that ACU has snagged in recent memory. The three-star recruit and no. 18 receiver in the state turned down offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Fresno State, Illinois, Kansas, North Texas, Texas State, Texas Tech, Toledo, Tulsa and UNLV to come to ACU. Dunn, from Cypress Spring High School, is a Top-150 player in Texas and a Top-200 player at his position in the country. He caught 42 passes for 700 yards and eight touchdowns during his senior year, and finished with 96 catches for 1,989 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging better than 20 yards per reception.
Several heads were turned when ACU added DeShaun Qualls to their 2016 roster. The two-star wide out from Jersey Village in Houston turned down offers from Nevada and New Mexico State. Regarded as one of the most explosive offensive players in the state, Qualls was the No. 97 player in the state on the Houston Chronicle Top-100. He finished his career with 5,049 yards and 49 touchdowns through the air and another 2,714 yards and 25 scores on the ground.
“I think a lot of people were surprised when we landed DeShaun,” Collums said. “This guy can do so much and can fly. When he was at camp, it was a no brainer. He is so dangerous with the ball in the open field.”
Chase Cokley is one of the top receivers in the state. A two-star recruit at 6-foot-2, 185 lbs, Cokley caught 67 passes for 1,284 yards and 16 touchdowns for an Austin Westlake team that reached the Class 6A Div. I state championship game. He caught 21 passes during his two-year career for Westlake.
At 6-foot-5, 190 lbs, Greg Craddock gives the Wildcats size at the receiver position, something that is essential in Div. I football. Craddock played just one season for Judson High School, but was special for the Rockets. He caught 30 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns.
The Wildcats also added one of the top private school quarterbacks in the state. Luke Anthony, 6-foot-1, 180 lbs, from All Saints Episcopal, threw for 3,173 yard and 34 touchdowns while rushing for another 250 yards and two scores, helping All Saints to a 10-1 record during her senior year. He was a two-star recruit, following his parents alma mater to ACU.
Eric Clayburn is considered by the coaching staff as possibly the next great ACU football running back. As a senior at Waco Midway HS, the two-star recruit ran for 1,402 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught another 11 passes for 184 yards and two scores. As a sophomore in 2014, he ran for 1,714 yards and 24 touchdowns and is a Top-300 player in the state of Texas, while being the 25th-ranked running back in Texas.
Emoree Giddens is a three-star recruit that could help the Wildcats in a multitude of ways. At 6-foot-4, 270 lbs, the Lubbock native from Coronado High School, Giddens is the no. 11 offensive tackle in the state and a Top-200 player in Texas. He is also predicted to play tight end for ACU.
On defense, the Wildcats brought in a solid group of linebackers and added depth on the defensive front.
“Our coaches are very thorough and they did a great job of identifying these guys, evaluating them as players and then developing a relationship with them,” Collums said. “That’s the most important thing in recruiting because you want to know what you’re getting. At ACU, we not only want the player, we want the person, too.”
Makoni Pole comes to ACU from Euless Trinity. The 6-foot-1, 280 lb defensive lineman was part of one of the most dominant defensive lines in the state. He finished his career with 115 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss.
Trayvone Blake is one of the two transfers to join ACU. He’s expected to battle for a starting spot at safety in the Wildcats’ secondary in 2016. Last season, he came up with 55 tackles (39 solo) and four interceptions for the 6-foot, 195 lb. defensive back.