After the Wildcats’ 56-21 Homecoming loss to Southeastern Louisiana, head football coach Adam Dorrel was clear that his team needed to get bigger and stronger. Keeping with that mantra, the football team welcomes 24 recruits, eight of which will play on the offensive or defensive line and 15 that have previous collegiate football experience.
“If you start in the backend and you look at the corners and the length that we’ve got in there, that we don’t have in our program right now to help us cover all the great receivers we’ve got in this league, that’s one,” Dorrel said. “If you look at the defensive lineman and the offensive linemen, we really got to improve our length there. And there’s a lot of things guys got to do to get better, but if a guy gets in the weight room and eats properly they’re going to put that weight on that we need them to put on.”
The 2018 recruiting class is also the first Dorrel was able to see through from start to finish. Last season, when he arrived in late December, he said he and his staff were having to rush through the process, but this year they were able to take the appropriate time.
“What it allows you to do is to go slower,” Dorrel said. “You can be really thorough really detailed in the recruiting process. It allowed us to have longer visits. Last year, we weren’t able to do that, we’re having to bring kids in so quick they were here maybe six or seven hours.”
Of the 15 transfers, three players enter their tenure at ACU having spent time at a Div. 1 program. Running back Billy Ray McCrary III transfers from the University of California-Berkley with two years of eligibility left and linebacker Johnathan Picone comes from Texas Tech as a sophomore. And defensive back Alex Lofton signs with ACU after spending last season at Butler Community College, but having previously been a part of the Southeastern Louisiana’s program.
“I thought it was a real diverse group, we got guys that can run,” Dorrel said. “We got big guys. Powerful guys. I thought we met all our needs, I was really excited about our staff and all that the work they did.”
The Wildcats will also hope to reboot the receiving with this class after primary redzone threats Carl Whitley and Troy Grant graduate this spring. ACU signed two receivers in Trinity Valley Community College transfer Torin Justice and Javorian “Brother” Miller from west Texas football powerhouse Odessa Permian. Last season, Justice caught 46 passes totaling 638 yards, and Miller finished with nearly 400 yards receiving on less than 20 catches. He was also one of the top multi-sport athlete in Texas, earning Newcomer of the Year and District MVP in basketball.
The offense will also look to develop 6-foot-6-inch tight end transfer, Kevin Ventura-Cortes into a redzone option. Ventura Cortes is transferring from Cerritos College where he had three touchdowns in nine games of action.
The Wildcats will begin spring ball March 1 and have their first scrimmage open to the public April 6, which should feature most of the newly signed transfers. ACU opens its season against Baylor on Sept. 1 and hosts Angelo State the following weekend in its home-opener.
The team will look to improve upon a 2-9 finish from a season ago, but should have plenty of depth heading into its second year of Div. 1 playoff eligibility.