By Giorgio Montenegro
After winning the school’s first Southern Conference Championship in seven years, Furman’s football program has continued getting better with talented acquisitions on signing day. Twenty-two players have officially signed with the Paladins, including eight skill position players.
One of the skill players, wide receiver A’lencio Graham, is the best recruit Furman signed, garnering three-star recruiting status according to 247sports.com. Oftentimes many three-star recruits do not consider Division IAA teams, electing to take their talents to the IA level. Graham is a six-foot speedster from Loganville, Ga., who spurned offers from some larger programs, including Army, Western Kentucky, and Georgia Tech, to play for the Paladins.
Other notable players include defensive ends Chinedu Okonye and Daniel Butler and defensive tackles Terrell Bush and Jaylan Reid, who are all considered two-star recruits. All of these players are going to have an opportunity to step in and bolster a Paladin defensive line that will be losing a few key contributors from 2013.
Another intriguing prospect Furman grabbed is P.J. Blazejowski from Jacksonville, Fla. Blazejowski is a dual threat quarterback who threw for about 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns in addition to running for another 874 yards and 14 touchdowns, all during his senior year of high school. Although not a highly sought-after recruit, there’s reason to be optimistic about this playmaker’s potential future with the program.
It seems as though Furman is trying to build as explosive an offense as they can. The Paladins also picked up running backs Issac Garcia and Kealand Dirks, who both posed very impressive high school careers. Garcia finished his high school career with more than 7,000 all-purpose yards, and the two-sport star Dirks rushed for 1,500 yards with 14 touchdowns in addition to garnering all-region honors in the shot put, 4x100m, and 4x200m for his school’s track team.
This class has no shortage of speed. In addition to the athletic Dirks, Furman brought in Bradford Lemmons, a wide receiver home grown in the great state of South Carolina. Lemmons has posted track times of 22.12 in the 200m, 48.20 in the 400m and 10.92 in the 100m. Overall this class is very impressive and definitely brings encouragement for Furman to continue succeeding far into the future.
There is still the potential for more recruiting commitments to come in the future as undeclared players decide where to take their talents. Three-star safety and Georgia native Jordan Collier, who has piqued the interest of programs as large as Auburn and Florida State, has an offer on the table from Furman and Georgia State at this time and remains undeclared. The 94th-ranked tight end in the entire recruiting class, Brandon Plylar has a plethora of offers on the table (including IA team Florida International) and is also still a possible future Paladin. Two-star offensive lineman Justin Cates has offers from Duke and East Carolina as well as Furman and Gardner-Webb still to decide among.
Regardless of what future recruits may join the Paladin family in fall 2014, the recruiting class is already one of the program’s best in recent memory. The Paladins will be riding high on the back of a successful end-of-season run as they practice all spring and summer long in preparation for next season’s opener at home against Gardner-Webb followed by a contest against new conference foe Mercer.