NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State football program has been named as the top HBCU recruiting class for 2017 by BOXTOROW as announced on Tuesday. This marks the second consecutive year the Tigers have claimed the top spot.
“Being a top recruiting class for the second straight year is just a tribute to our coaches,” said head coach Rod Reed. “They were able to get out and identify the athletes and stay with them through the process of getting to know Tennessee State.”
After being named the top class in 2012 and 2013, which spawned NFL products Demetrius Rhaney and De’Ante ‘Pop’ Saunders, respectively, the Tigers fell to third in 2014 and eighth in 2015. From the signing class of 2016, 14 players made immediate contributions for the 7-4 Tigers, including STATS Freshman All-Americans and BOXTOROW All-Americans Steven Newbold and Chris Rowland.
TSU highlighted the top 2017 class with Florida transfer Treon Harris and LSU transfer Chidi Okeke. Harris was ranked as a 4-Star prospect and the No. 7 Athlete according to ESPN300 coming out of high school before staring at Florida where he played in 21 games at quarterback, starting 15, completing 174-of-346 passes for 2,695 yards, 10 interceptions and 18 touchdowns.
Okeke, who began playing football in 2013, rated as a five-star prospect by 247 Sports while ESPN and Scout give him four stars. Okeke ranked as high as the No. 2 offensive tackle nationally and the No. 22 overall prospect regardless of position by 247 Sports. Okeke will have three years at TSU after playing in 11 games during his LSU career, seeing most of his action on special teams.
Cornerback Neiman Armstrong is a three star athlete who initially accepted an offer to play at Texas Tech before attending Cisco College. Armstrong will also have three years of eligibility at TSU.
Three star products, linebacker James Green (Orlando, Fla.), cornerback Ray Coggins (Lebanon, Tenn.) and defensive end LaRonzo Davis (Memphis, Tenn.) will join with two star rated players like linebacker Moris Lugo (Opa Locka, Fla.) and wide receiver Lawrence Segree II (Nashville) for the Big Blue.
The Tigers continued to add depth as they signed 14 of the projected 16 they targeted in the initial signing period. The Big Blue lost its final two potential signees to FBS programs. Coach Reed addressed needs in the defensive backfield and depth.
“We have some guys who we think can come in and are game ready right now,” said Reed. “Some will come in and help on special teams right now and some may even start. We will have to see what camp shakes out. We just feel we have some quality kids who can help out immediately.”
TSU finished ahead of North Carolina Central and Jackson State. Norfolk State ranked fourth ahead of Howard, Alcorn State, Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State. Grambling and Savannah State rounded out the list, tying for tenth.
“I also have to thank Teresa Phillips and the administration for allowing us to get out and recruit in a first class manor.” Reed commented. “Now we have to take all this talent to the field and get some wins.”
The Tigers open the 2017 season on the road at Georgia State.
2017 BOXTOROW HBCU Top 10 Recruiting Class
1. Tennessee State
2. North Carolina Centyral
3. Jackson State
4. Norfolk State
6. Alcorn State
7. Florida A&M
9. South Carolina State
T-10 Savannah State
Ray Coggins – CB, 5-11, 185 Lebanon, Tenn. (Wilson Central)
LaRonzo Davis - DE, 6-5, 220 Memphis, Tenn. (Los Angeles Valley College)
Anthony Geter – FB , 5-11, 258 Memphis, Tenn. (Whitehaven)
James Green - LB, 6-1, 205 Orlando, Fla. (Olympia)
Moris Lugo – LB, 6-0, 210 Opa Locka, Fla. (Miami Carol City)
Antowan Malone – LB, 5-11, 225 Nashville, Tenn. (Pearl-Cohn)
Al-Malik Moore – WR, 6-0, 170 Miami, Fla. (Northwestern)
Lawrence Segree II – WR, 6-1, 180 Nashville, Tenn. (Brentwood Academy)
Vincent Sellers – CB, 6-1, 180 Sarasota, Fla. (Riverview)
Vincent Thomas - WR, 6-0, 178 Orlando, Fla. (Jones)
Joshua Truehart – QB, 6-5, 220 Nashville, Tenn. (Stratford Comprehensive)
Treon Harris – QB, 5-11, 195 Miami, Fla. (Florida)
Chidi Okeke – OL, 6-6, 312 Anambra, Nigeria (LSU)
Neiman Armstrong – CB, 6-1, 185 Dallas, Texas (Cisco College)