Lions sign 9, but expect more


Monte Coleman’s seventh recruiting class at Arkansas-Pine Bluff started out with only nine signees Wednesday. But he expects the class to grow within the next few days.

“We’re small in numbers, but we got what we’re looking for,” he said.

Coleman said he wasn’t concerned with the small number on National Signing Day, adding some recruits were looking for a better offer from larger programs. He said the results of all recruiting efforts are going the way he planned it, adding he may land three players today.

“If we can get them signed before August, that’s all we’re looking for,” Coleman said.

But as of Wednesday, none of the nine signees came from Southeast Arkansas. Coleman expects that to change as well, but didn’t say who might sign because NCAA rules do not permit college coaches to speak about particular recruits unless they are signed. Dollarway coach Cortez Lee said defensive end Kamaree Ento is still expected to sign with UAPB soon.

Coleman said a 2-9 record this past season and the lack of an offensive coordinator and linebackers coach did not hinder the Golden Lions’ recruiting at all. Former Alabama A&M head coach Anthony Jones was named offensive coordinator on Tuesday and Byron Anderson began his duties as linebackers coach a day earlier.

“From the conversations we had with the recruits we signed and the ones we’re still hoping to sign, they’re excited about the coaches (still on staff), the way the program is going,” Coleman said. “That’s what we’re selling. It’s not built on one season, but it’s built on honesty, integrity. We try not to do anything crazy with kids. A lot of the parents actually see that direction we’re going in.

“The coaches that are on staff came in and did a great job finding the ballplayers we need.”

Four of the signees come from the greater Little Rock area, including North Little Rock defensive back Kavin Alexander. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder helped the Charging Wildcats reach two straight 7A state semifinals.

“He has great size,” Coleman said. “The kid can flat-out run. That’s what he brings to the table. He has 4.3, maybe even 4.2 speed (in the 40-yard dash). A lot of times we don’t blitz because we don’t have the speed at the corner positions, but the speed is what Kavin brings to the table.”

The only other defensive back Coleman has landed so far is Memphis Craigmont High free safety Lawrence Mosley (6-2, 195).

The Lions continued to tap into the Little Rock Parkview pool for players, landing wide receivers Lawrence Berry (5-11, 170) and Patrick Rowland (5-10, 165). Parkview is the alma mater of senior-to-be quarterback Ben Anderson as well as 2013 recruits Tavion Garrison, a free safety, and Kwan Cummings Jr., a defensive lineman.

Mills defensive end Kyron Lawson (6-6, 230) is the other Little Rocker in the 2014 UAPB signing class.

Coleman addressed a dire need for depth on the offensive line with 6-4, 315-pound Isaiah Briggs of Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab High, scoring a big Signing Day win by pulling a player from SWAC champion Southern University’s territory.

“Great ballplayer; we’re excited,” Coleman said. “This is a guy who will compete for a starting job. He has the determination. To get him out of Baton Rouge, right out of Southern, he’s going to be an asset for us.”

Rounding out the Signing Day group for UAPB: Arlington (Texas) Sam Houston High defensive lineman Kaleb McDonald (6-2, 280), Memphis Melrose quarterback LaEarl Patterson (6-1, 175) and Nashville (Tenn.) Pearl-Cohn High defensive lineman Eric Reid (6-5, 240).

UAPB did not land any mid-year transfers this year.