Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

February 5, 2014

Concord adds 11 recruits, including Princeton’s Allen and Wyoming East’s Hedinger

ATHENS — While Concord football coach Garin Justice was calmly answering questions in a “signing day” press conference on Wednesday, there were noises all around outside the conference room.

One one side, students were running up and down the hallway as teammates yelled encouragement.

On another side, dozens of football players were pumping weights as a sound system blared music.

The coach was outlining the status of recruits for the future. The current players were at work improving their present capabilities.

 With 19 of 22 starters, at one time or another, projected to return to the Mountain Lions next August, the list of recruits looked a little thin as of Wednesday afternoon. Justice wasn’t particularly worried.

“We’re pretty excited about the guys we brought in,” he told media members. “We’ve got a good group of guys. We feel like it’s a good starting point.”

 “This is kind of the first wave of guys we’ll land. We’ll anticipate signing guys, all the way probably up until we start playing in August.”

Partly because of the number of scholarships tied up in returning students, he said, “Not as much scholarship money (is) available as what is normally.”

“The good thing about that, it means we’ve got a lot of good players returning, and it also means we’re doing a great job of retaining the players we have in-house...”

The list of newcomers includes two southern West Virginians, Devin Allen of Princeton and multi-sport athlete Christian Hedinger of Wyoming East High School. Hedinger is tentatively listed at wide receiver, while Allen’s position will depend on where the coaches believe his physical talents are best suited.

Two junior-college transfers, Californian Derrick Johnson and Cade Rogers of Nevada, are already taking classes on campus and will participate in spring drills, Justice said. Both “are going to compete for starting positions right now” in the defensive backfield, he said.

Both defensive coordinator Paul Price and Justice are big on 320-pound recruit Darrell Beard, a nose guard from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“He’s going to help us next season,” Justice said.

Josh Smith, who plays center, will arrive from Centreville High School in Virginia. Justice quipped, “A good place to find centers is Centreville, I would imagine. He’s a guy we’re kind of recruiting to replace Rustin Mayorga at that center position.”

Mayorga will be a senior this fall.

Three prep players from Maryland have filed their letters of intent. Two attend Meade High School, the alma mater of Concord running back Calvinaugh Jones, who rushed for 1,031 yards in 2013.

Justice said, “A lot of the reason we get guys like that ... is the coach trusts us because of Calvinaugh’s success. Plus, they’re friends with Cavinaugh; they want to continue to play with him. He’s a good player.”

The first batch of signees also includes 205-pound safety Lawrence Hunt from Woodbridge, Va., and a 160-pound wide receiver from Benwood in northern West Virginia, Jared Yates.

The roster is likely to include more local athletes before Concord’s first game on Sept. 6 in Athens.

Justice said, “It’s always nice to get local talent. We’re going to continue to recruit local talent. Again, this is the first wave and we’re expecting more in the future.”

Signing day does not mean the end of the recruiting work in NCAA Division II football, Justice said.

“We’ll start making our calls again after today, (inquiring about recruits)who didn’t get signed, or who got dropped at the last second. And we’ve already got some of those calls,” Justice said.

Prospects from high school and junior-college programs, who might have thought they’d be Division I athletes, “fall through the cracks,” he said.

“We’ll try to sort through and continue to get a great class,” he said.

— A more detailed story on Concord football recruits will appear in a special section in Sunday’s Daily Telegraph.

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