Eastern inks 20 recruits on signing day

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Eastern football coach Kim Dameron announced the signing of 20 new Panthers Wednesday afternoon on national signing day. The new Panthers consist of mostly high school seniors, but also some mid-year college transfers.

“We were looking for very specific kids,” Dameron said. “I feel like we were trying to stay as close to home as possible.”

A focus point for Dameron and the program in bringing the recruits they target, is showing them the family aspect of the program. And that is what the players sold to the recruits and were a big part in getting the players they were hoping for.

Dameron admitted that he is not a good salesman, but he is good with building relationships.

Eastern will continue to recruit and bring in players over the next couple of months. The Panthers have about seven scholarships left to bring players into the program.

Marcus Bornslater played offense and defense for his high school and finished his senior season with 61 tackles, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He also returned punts and kickoffs.

Johari Branch played basketball in high school, and when Dameron saw Branch get a flagrant foul in the paint, he knew he was going to be a good fit at Eastern with that physicality, he said.

Rodarrius Brooks averaged 8.1 yards per carry in his senior season and finished with 1,021 all-purpose yards.

Edwyn Brown was originally committed to OVC rival Southeast Missouri, but Dameron was able to sway him to Eastern.

Kylan Cole had 48 tackles in his senior season, including 10 for a loss.

D’Mitri George recorded 77 tackles, including 51 solo tackles, and blocked two field goals as well.

Austin Johnson committed on his visit to Eastern and Dameron told him that the “wolves” were going to come. He told Johnson that he was a man of his word and that Johnson would have to be as well. They both were, and Johnson followed through and came to Eastern.

Jalen Johnson scored seven touchdowns his senior season and averaged 18.1 yards per reception his senior year.

Jonathan McCoy caught 22 passes for 410 yards and scored one touchdown.

Xander Richards played on a primary rushing team, but still hauled in 22 catches and six touchdown receptions.

Mario Rodrigues and Matt Severino were the only two specialists the Panthers signed. They were two key additions in Dameron’s eyes.

Dameron said he can sleep at night because of current Eastern long snapper A.J. Hantak. Hantak, punter Cody Edwards and kicker Nick Bruno will all graduate following the 2017 season.

Dameron wanted to sign the specialists because he wants them to get used to the program and be ready to go when their time comes after the current Eastern specialists graduate.

Courtney Rowell rushed for 794 yards with four touchdowns averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Similar to former running back Devin Church he was versatile in the backfield, being able to catch passes. He had 19 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns.

Jose Sanchez played on both sides of the ball and can play guard or center at the collegiate level.

Ben Solomon earned All-State honors and Region 7 Indiana All-Star honors and helped get his team a State Championship as a junior.

Aaron “Tiger” Woods had recorded 34 tackles as a senior and had 5.5 sacks in his senior season.

Alexander Hollins caught 11 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns at his community college. He also spent time on special teams.

Dytarius Johnson played at Alabama Prep in the fall. He was a 3-star linebacker in high school.

Ryan Ramirez had six receptions for 82 yards and one touchdown at his community college.

Levi Watson had 35 tackles and two sacks at his community college last season.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]