Despite a six-week recruiting process, shortened by the turnover and hiring of new coaches, first-year head coach Adam Dorrel and his staff unveiled a 2017 recruiting class which included 16 high school signees and one JUCO transfer.
“It has been a whirlwind,” Dorrel said. “Its been a lot of fun, learning and meeting new people. I can’t say enough about our coaching staff these guys have done a phenomenal job helping me navigating the Texas waters. It’s gone really fast and we’ve been really really busy, but it has been fun.”
Of the 17 new recruits, eight of them are of the lineman variety and four come to ACU listed as cornerbacks. And after boasting just two Texas born players on the 2016 roster at Northwest Missouri State, Dorrel and his staff recruited a class where 16 of 17 played high school football in Texas.
“We talked a lot about the facilities here and that was easy for them to see,” Dorrel said. “We talked a lot about the education, and the fact that we were able to get these young men into the buildings they would be taking classes in was powerful. And then just the family atmosphere, the family feel that ACU has. I know that was a draw for me. And I think our recruits felt it here when they were here. It was very well received.”
Inheriting a team with 17 returning starters on offense and defense, Dorrel and the coaching staff were looking to add depth to the roster on both sides of the ball.
Offensively ACU added five lineman in Peyton Bird, Everett Gunnoe, Kage Hendrix, Klay Padgett and Kade Parmelly, as Padgett is the lone recruit coming from out of state. The Wildcats also added tight ends Remington Lutz and Jackson Pace, along with JUCO quarterback transfer Bryce Baccarini. Abilene High’s versatile Qua’Shawn Washington closes out the offensive recruits, as he joins Parmelly, who played for Abilene Wylie, as the other Abilene native. Dorrel said he will look to use Washington in a position he calls a “C-Back” which is a combination between a tailback and fullback.
On the defensive side of the ball, ACU landed three more linemen, in defensive ends Cordell Ijioma, Jack Gibbens and Kameron Hill. Gibbens earned District 27-6A defensive MVP this season for Smithson Valley. With three of the Wildcats starting secondary graduating, cornerbacks Coy Richardson, Obinna Udoye, C.J. Wall and Dante Williams will look to help fill those holes.
ACU also added kicker and punter Cole Yeatts, who they hope will be able to take over for senior Nik Grau in the future and possibly replace the void left at the punter position by the graduation of Austin Kilcullen. The Wildcats
“In the time that we had to get this group collected, I think our coaching staff did a phenomenal job,” Dorrel said. “We did a good job not panicking, and not just signing kids to sign them. We stuck to our guns and we had a plan and we stayed with our plan. We were able to fill holes and bring depth in, and we’re still going to be able to do somethings down the road in terms of recruiting if we need to.”
The Wildcats open the 2017 season with trips to New Mexico and Colorado State before opening Southland Conference play in the brand new Wildcat Stadium Sept. 16.