ABILENE, Texas - During each of the last two recruiting seasons, ACU head football coach Ken Collums has preached the need to get bigger and create more depth and competition up and down his roster.
The Wildcats did that with their 2013 recruiting class, but they went even further with it with the 2014 recruiting classic, which was announced Wednesday, the first day high school players can sign binding letters of national intent with the college of their choice. Twenty-six high school players and three transfers chose to cast their lot with the Wildcats, and it could be on the most impressive physically and academically gifted classes in recent ACU history.
Collums and his staff signed 16 defensive players and 10 offensive players from the high school ranks and took one transfer from the defensive side of the ball and two more from the offensive side.
But up and down the signing list is size and speed from the 6-3, 310-pound defensive tackle to the 6-2, 225 outside linebacker who can cover sideline-to-sideline to the 6-2, 290-pound road grader on the offensive line to the 6-0, 195-pound safety who isn't afraid to put a helmet on someone.
"Going into this recruiting season, we wanted to try and get a player at each position to create depth," Collums said. "The only position we didn't take was at quarterback, but we're in pretty good shape there. The most obvious thing we had to do was to create depth. Playing in the league we're in now (Southland Conference) is brutal. It's like being in a car wreck 11 or 12 straight weeks, having to recover and going out and doing it all over again. You'd better be prepared to plug quality guys into the lineup or you're just going to get killed."
As the 2013 season went along, it became more and more apparent that the Wildcats had to shore up their defensive line, especially in the middle. And that's where the coaching staff directed a large part of its focus, nabbing four defensive tackles and three defensive ends. The defensive tackles are led by LaMarcus Allen, a 6-1, 300-pounder from Prosper, while pass-rushing specialist Anthony Davis (6-3, 240) from Dallas Madison is the headliner at defensive end. Also, transfer William Moore from Houston (the younger brother of former Wildcat defensive lineman Donald Moore) will play a big role for the Wildcats in 2014.
The Wildcats also signed defensive tackles Trent Andrews (6-1, 275) from Bosqueville, Travaughn Moore (6-3,3 10) from John Tyler and Eddie Ngungutau (6-2, 320) from Euless Trinity. And at end, to go along with Davis, they signed Devondric Meadows (6-4, 275) from Lubbock Coronado and A.J. Tolbert (6-0, 235) from Southlake Carroll. Tolbert is the son of former Dallas Cowboys defensive end, Tony Tolbert.
"We feel good about our big people on both sides of the ball, and that's our No. 1 thing right now," Collums said. "We've already learned that you'd better have big people that can play and you'd better have a lot of them. We're getting closer to where we need to be with our depth at defensive tackle, defensive end and on the offensive line."
ACU signed a very talented group of linebackers, perhaps the best group of players at one position in the class. Bryson Gates of Fairfield, Gavin Burford of Lewisville Hebron, Dylan Douglass of Canyon, Myles Solberry of Plano and Sam Denmark – the top-rated linebacker in New Mexico out of Las Cruces High School – could all be impact players on the Wildcats' defense.
The secondary is led by safeties Rashaad Burton (Mansfield Timberview) and Damian Howard (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and cornerbacks Jamar Mack (Dallas Roosevelt) and Terry Ausborne (Tyler John Tyler).
Collums said there was no formula for how the Wildcats went about their recruiting process, at least in terms of numbers of players they would take at each position. That's why one year after signing five high school offensive linemen, the Wildcats added five
more on Wednesday. Kris Thigpen from Arlington Bowie (6-2, 290) was a three-year starter for the Volunteers and leads another group of talented offensive linemen to join the Wildcats.
The other offensive linemen joining the Wildcats are Cole Baughman (6-5, 275) from Cedar Park, Colton King (6-6, 290, Richardson Pearce), Brady Melde (6-3, 275) from New Braunfels Canyon, and Moe Ngungutau (6-2, 310) from Euless Trinity. They also added transfer offensive lineman Parker Whitney from Butler Community College at the semester break.
ACU also signed two dual-threat quarterbacks from opposite ends of the spectrum in 6-5, 240-pound Cody Ennis of San Antonio Madison and 6-0, 190-pound Dallas Sealey from Lawton, Okla. Both can make plays with both their arms and their feet, which is something Collums said the Wildcats will be looking in from their quarterbacks for the foreseeable future.
"We won't every play here at ACU without a guy who can throw it," Collums said. "But we learned with the way we used John David (Baker) last year that having a guy that can move around and use his head and his feet as much as his arm, and both of these guys can do that for us."
Receiver was also a position of need after ACU lost three of its all-time greats in Taylor Gabriel, Darrell Cantu-Harkless and Darian Hogg. The Wildcats signed playmaker Marcus Ellis from Melissa and Chris Lide from Fairfield and added transfer Larry McDuffey from Houston.
In all, 29 players (26 high school players and three transfers) chose to join a Wildcat program that in 2014 will begin its second season at the NCAA Division I FCS level and will play a full Southland Conference schedule for the first time since the 1972 season. The players that signed Wednesday also represent the first signing class that could play in the FCS national playoffs when ACU becomes post-season eligible in 2017.
And, Collums said, this class helped the Wildcat program take a huge step toward achieving the goal of a Southland Conference title and FCS playoff appearance in short order.
"What this class proves to me is that we will be able to compete at the highest level when we're ready," he said. "We competed and fought with and beat some of the best teams in our league for a lot of these players. We lost some of those fights, too, but we won a lot more. In recruiting it's not about signing somebody, but rather signing the right ones. The right hearts are here and that makes all the difference."
ABILENE CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
2014 NATIONAL SIGNING DAY LIST
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (School)
LaMarcus Allen DT 6-1 300 Prosper, Texas (Prosper HS)
Trent Andrews DT 6-1 275 Waco, Texas (Bosqueville HS)
Terry Ausborne CB 5-11 175 Tyler, Texas (John Tyler HS)
Cole Baughman OL 6-5 275 Cedar Park, Texas (Cedar Park HS)
Gavin Burford LB 6-2 225 Lewisville, Texas (Hebron HS)
Rashaad Burton S 6-0 195 Arlington, Texas (Mansfield Timberview HS)
Anthony Davis DE 6-3 240 Seagoville, Texas (Dallas Madison HS)
Sam Denmark LB 6-1 230 Las Cruces, N.M. (Las Cruces HS)
Dylan Douglass LB 6-4 230 Canyon, Texas (Canyon HS)
Marcus Ellis WR 5-8 160 Melissa, Texas (Melissa HS)
Cody Ennis QB 6-5 240 San Antonio, Texas (Madison HS)
Liam Flowers TE/FB 6-2 240 Grand Prairie, Texas (Arlington Lamar HS)
Bryson Gates LB 6-2 220 Fairfield, Texas (Fairfield HS)
Damian Howard S 5-11 185 Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow HS)
Colton King OL 6-6 290 Richardson, Texas (J.J. Pearce HS)
Chris LIde WR 6-1 190 Fairfield, Texas (Fairfield HS)
Jamar Mack CB 5-11 175 Dallas, Texas (Roosevelt HS)
Devondric Meadows DE 6-4 275 Lubbock, Texas (Coronado HS)
Brady Melde OL 6-3 275 New Braunfels, Texas (Canyon HS)
Travaughn Moore DT 6-3 310 Tyler, Texas (John Tyler HS)
Eddie Ngungutau DT 6-2 320 Euless, Texas (Trinity HS)
Moe Ngungutau OL 6-2 310 Euless, Texas (Trinity HS)
Dallas Sealey QB 6-0 190 Lawton, Okla. (Lawton HS)
Myles Solsberry LB 6-1 210 Plano, Texas (Plano Senior HS)
Kris Thigpen OL 6-2 290 Grand Prairie, Texas (Arlington Bowie HS)
A.J. Tolbert DE 6-0 235 Southlake, Texas (Carroll HS)
Larry McDuffey WR 5-9 160 Galena Park, Texas (Houston)
William Moore DE 6-1 235 Houston, Texas (Houston)
Parker Whitney OL 6-3 295 Rose Hill, Kan. (Buttler Comm. College)
HIGH SCHOOL SIGNEES
LaMARCUS ALLEN, DT, 6-1, 300, Prosper, Texas (Prosper High School) – As a senior at Prosper HS, Allen compiled 57 tackles (35 solo), including 10 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks for minus-20 yards in losses. … As a junior he had 48 tackles (16 solo) and 4.0 sacks. … As a senior, Allen was a team captain, academic all-district and first team all-District 9-4A selection. … As a junior he was a third team all-Region II-4A selection, first team all-district pick while playing for a team that went 10-3 before losing to Lancaster in the third round of the state playoffs. … Also lettered in basketball and track and field. … Played at Prosper for head coach Kent Scott.
TRENT ANDREWS, DT, 6-1, 275, Waco, Texas (Bosqueville High School) – A two-way starter along the offensive and defensive lines in high school, Andrews is slated to play on the defensive line for the Wildcats. … During his career, he finished with 429 tackles, including 71 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, two interceptions and 32 quarterback pressures. … … In three seasons on the offensive line, Andrews had 51 "pancake" blocks, 70 knockdowns and didn't allow a sack. … As a senior at Bosqueville HS, Andrews was a first team Class A all-state offensive lineman and honorable mention all-state defensive lineman. … He was a Super CenTex first team selection to the offensive line and a first team all-Texas offensive line selection by Dave Campbell's Texas Football. … As a junior in 2012, Andrews was selected first team all-state defensive lineman by both the Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association. … He was also tabbed a second team all-state offensive lineman by both outlets in 2012. … Andrews recorded 115 tackles (27 solo), including 21 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. … Also as a junior, he was a first team Super CenTex selection at offensive guard. … As a sophomore in 2011, he was a first team all-district selection at both offensive guard and nose guard. … He's also a two-time regional qualifier in powerlifting. … He qualified for the state powerlifting meet as a junior in 2012. … Played at Bosqueville for head coach Clint Zander.
TERRY AUSBORNE, CB, 5-11, 175, Tyler, Texas (John Tyler High School) – As a senior in 2013, Ausborne was a second team all-District 16-4A selection at safety. … As a junior in 2012, Ausborne started at safety for the Lions during their 13-2 Class 4A Division I state semifinal run in 2012. … Ausborne finished tied for second on the Lions' defense in 2012 with 86 tackles and led JT with six interceptions. He also had one fumble recovery. … High school teammate of fellow ACU signee Travaughn Moore. … Played at Tyler John Tyler for head coach Ricklan Holmes.
COLE BAUGHMAN, OL, 6-5, 275, Cedar Park, Texas (Cedar Park High School) – Baughman is the third offensive lineman from Cedar Park High School to sign with the Wildcats in the last two years as he joins former high school teammates Riley Mayfield and Austin Hisler on the Wildcats' roster. … As a two-year letterman, Baughman helped lead Cedar Park to a combined 27-4 record, the 2012 Class 4A Division II state championship and back-to-back district championships in 2012 and 2013. … Baughman was a first team all-district selection as a senior in 2013, and he was also an academic all-district performer. … Played at Cedar Park for head coach Joe Willis.
GAVIN BURFORD, LB, 6-2, 225, Lewisville, Texas (Hebron High School) – As a senior in 2013, Burford – a three-year starter at linebacker for the Hawks of Hebron HS – finished with 126 tackles, including eight tackles for loss. … He also had seven sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception. … A unanimous first team all-District 5-5A selection after leading the Hawks to an 8-4 record and into the second round of the state playoffs. … First team Region I-5A selection at linebacker by texashighschoolfootbal.com. … In his first team all-district junior year, he totaled 127 tackles, including 10.0 tackles for loss. … He also had three sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception. … As a junior in 2012, Burford was a first team all-District 5-5A selection who was selected to the US National football team. … As a sophomore in 2011 he was an all-District 8-5A honorable mention selection. … Played at Hebron for head coach Brian Brazil.
RASHAAD BURTON, S, 6-0, 195, Arlington, Texas (Mansfield Timberview High School) – As a senior in 2013, Burton helped the Wolves to an 8-4 record and a bi-district championship. … A second team all-District 7-5A selection at outside linebacker in 2013. … Academic all-district selection. … As a junior he was an honorable mention all-District 7-5A selection at linebacker. … Played at Timberview for head coach James Brown.
ANTHONY DAVIS, DE, 6-3, 240, Dallas, Texas (Madison High School) – Three-year starter and three-time all-district selection for Madison HS. … Helped lead Madison to a pair of district championships. … As a senior in 2013, Davis finished with 30 tackles, five sacks and scored two touchdowns. … As a junior in 2012 he had 36 solo tackles and 12 sacks, and as a sophomore in 2011 he had 40 tackles and eight sacks. … Played at Madison for head coach Marcus Gates.
SAM DENMARK, LB, 6-1, 230, Las Cruces, N.M. (Las Cruces High School) – An all-around athlete who has won state championships in both football and basketball during his career. … As a senior in 2013 at Las Cruces HS, he had 155 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss. … He also recorded eight sacks and was the spearhead behind five goal-line stands. … A two-way starter, he also caught 15 passes for 378 yards and six touchdowns from the tight end position. … Led his team to back-to-back Class 5A state championships and a 23-2 record in two years as a starter. … As a senior in 2013, he helped lead Las Cruces to a 27-26 win over bitter crosstown rival Mayfield in the state championship game. … After his senior season he was voted the Defensive Player of the Year on the 2013 American Family Insurance All-USA New Mexico Football Team presented by USA Today. … A first team all-district and all-state selection at linebacker after his junior and senior seasons, Denmark was also a second team all-state selection at tight end after his senior season. … A first team all-district tight end and linebacker after his junior season. … In the 2012 state championship win over Sandia, Denmark caught a 52-yard scoring pass and then had a key interception in the end zone with nine minutes to play to preserve the Bulldawgs' 35-28 win. … He is the NM Preps Combine Linebacker MVP and the top-ranked linebacker in the southern part of New Mexico. … The No. 1-ranked linebacker in New Mexico by NMPreps.com. … Led Las Cruces to the Class 5A state championship in basketball in 2012-13. … Played at Las Cruces for head coach Jim Miller.
DYLAN DOUGLASS, LB, 6-4, 230, Canyon, Texas (Canyon High School) – First team Class 4A all-state linebacker as a senior in 2013. … Led the Eagles to a 12-1 record and area championship in 2013. … Finished the season with 147 total tackles (77 solo), including 17 tackles for loss. … He forced four fumbles and recorded four sacks on his way to earning first team all-District 3-4A honors. … He was also the district's Defensive MVP. … As a junior in 2012 he was a second team Associated Press and Texas High School Coaches' Association all-state selection. … District Defensive MVP. … Played at Canyon for head coach Blake Bryant.
MARCUS ELLIS, WR, 5-8, 160, Melissa, Texas (Melissa High School) – A versatile player who can play wide receiver and running back, Ellis finished his career at Melissa HS with 3,431 rushing yards and 45 rushing touchdowns to go along with 374 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 35 receptions. … Finished his career with 4,053 career all-purpose yards. … He will likely play in the slot at ACU. … As a senior he finished with 1,111 yards rushing and 20 touchdown on 132 carries (8.42 yards per carry), while also catching 16 passes for 264 yards and two scores. … He also had 148 return yards for 1,523 all-purpose yards in 12 games. … As a junior he had 1,422 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns on 161 carries (8.82 ypc) to go along with 10 catches for 65 yards. … Finished his junior season with 1,487 all-purpose yards. … As a sophomore in 2011 he had 998 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 123 carries (8.11 ypc) and nine catches for 45 yards. … Finished his sophomore season with 1,043 all-purpose yards. … As a sophomore he was part of Melissa's Class 2A Division I state championship team. … After his senior season in 2013, Ellis was an honorable mention Class 3A all-state selection at running back by the Texas Sports Writers Association. … He was the District 12-3A District MVP. … After his junior season in 2012, Ellis was a first team all-District 12-3A selection and the District MVP. … Played at Melissa for head coach Seth Stinton.
CODY ENNIS, QB, 6-5, 240, San Antonio, Texas (Madison High School) – One of the most productive quarterbacks in the state of Texas in 2013, Ennis accounted for 58 total touchdowns while leading Madison to an 11-4 record and a spot in the Class 5A Division I state semifinals. … As a senior, Ennis completed 212 of 336 passes (64 percent) for 3,476 yards and 37 touchdowns while rushing for 961 yards and 21 touchdowns on 167 carries. … He was a first team all-District 26-5A selection as the utility player and punter and second team all-District 26-5A selection at quarterback. … He was a second team all-area selection, academic all-state pick and team Offensive MVP. … He was also a two-time Time Warner Player of the Week in San Antonio. ... As a junior in 2012, he led Madison to an 11-3 record, an undefeated district championship season and a spot in the state quarterfinals. … Ennis battled an injury during his junior season, but still completed 88 of 130 passes (68 percent) for 1,348 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 249 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries. … Also lettered in track and field. … Ennis will graduate from Madison in the top five percent of the class. …. Played at Madison for head coach Jim Streety.
LIAM FLOWERS, TE/FB, 6-2, 240, Arlington, Texas (Lamar High School) – After his senior season in 2013, Flowers was a first team all-District 3-5A selection at tight end. … Helped lead the Vikings to a 9-3 record and a spot in the Class 5A Division II state playoffs. … Flowers has already played a game at Shotwell Stadium (ACU's home field) and caught a 20-yard touchdown in the Vikings' loss to Abilene Cooper High School in the second round of the 2013 state playoffs. … Second team academic all-state selection. … First team Region I-5A selection at tight end by texashighschoolfootbal.com. … Played at Arlington Lamar for head coach Trent Fuller.
BRYSON GATES, LB, 6-2, 220, Fairfield, Texas (Fairfield High School) – Helped lead Fairfield to the Class 3A Division II state championship game in 2013 where the Eagles lost to Argyle in a thriller, 38-33, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. … Fairfield finished the season at 15-1. … Gates – who also played running back and receiver for Fairfield – will play linebacker for the Wildcats. … As a senior, while helping lead Fairfield to the first state title game in program history, Gates finished with 61 tackles (16 solo), including eight for loss. … He also had three sacks, one pass defended, two fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles. … He was a first team all-District 19-3A selection as a utility player on the offensive side of the ball and a first team all-district selection at outside linebacker on the defensive side of the ball. … As a junior he had 38 tackles (23 solo), including eight tackles for loss. … He also had three sacks, one pass defended, one fumble recovery and three forced fumbles. … As a sophomore he had 54 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks, one pass defended, two interceptions and one forced fumble. … High school teammate of fellow ACU signee Chris Lide. … Played at Fairfield for head coach John Batchel.
DAMIAN HOWARD, S, 5-11, 185, Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow High School) – Helped lead Broken Arrow to a 10-3 and a spot in the state playoffs where the team lost to Oklahoma powerhouse Tulsa Union. … After his senior season in 2013, Howard was selected first team all-District 6A-2 as a defensive back. … Before the season he was a pre-season Class 6A all-state selection by the Daily Oklahoman. … Also competed in track and field for Broken Arrow. … Played at Broken Arrow for head coach Steve Spavital.
COLTON KING, OL, 6-6, 290, Richardson, Texas (J.J. Pearce High School) – Two years on the varsity at Pearce HS and one season as a starter. … Will be groomed to play offensive tackle for the Wildcats. … Played at Pearce for head coach Randy Robertson.
CHRIS LIDE, WR, 6-1, 190, Fairfield, Texas (Fairfield High School) – Lide was a key figure for Fairfield both offensively and defensively in the Eagles' run to the Class 3A Division II state championship game in 2013. … Fairfield lost to Argyle in a thriller, 38-33, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington to finish the season at 15-1. … Lide caught two passes for 99 yards in the state championship game, including a 69-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. … In three seasons, Lide caught 81 passes for 1,229 yards and 16 touchdowns and had 1,392 total all-purpose yards in those three seasons. … As a two-way player he had 62 tackles on defense (19 solo), four interceptions, five passes defended and six fumble recoveries in those three seasons. … Last year as a senior he caught 48 passes for 856 yard and 10 touchdowns. … First team all-District 19-3A selection at wide receiver. … As a junior he caught 27 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns, while as a sophomore he caught six passes for 44 yards and one score. … He was a first team all-District 19-3A selection at wide receiver. … High school teammate of fellow ACU signee Bryson Gates. … Played at Fairfield for head coach John Batchel.
JAMAR MACK, CB, 5-11, 175, Dallas, Texas (Roosevelt High School) – A two-way player (quarterback and defensive back), Mack is slated to play in the Wildcats' secondary at cornerback. … As a senior quarterback, Mack completed 55 of 127 passes for 539 yards while rushing for 206 yards and five touchdowns on 60 carries. … In the secondary he had 38 total tackles (22 solo), two interceptions and nine passes defended. … District 11-3A MVP after his senior season. … Played at Roosevelt for head coach Tommy Bonds.
DEVONDRIC MEADOWS, DE, 6-4, 275, Lubbock, Texas (Coronado High School) – As a senior, Meadows was a force along the Mustangs' front seven for the first part of the year but missed most of the second half with a knee injury. … Sat out his junior season after recording 26 tackles as a sophomore in 2011. … Three-year basketball letterman for the Mustangs. … His uncle is former Washington Redskins' cornerback Darrell Green, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. … His cousin, Darrell's son, Jared Green, plays for the Carolina Panthers. … Played at Coronado for head coach Kent Jackson.
BRADY MELDE, OL, 6-3, 275, New Braunfels, Texas (Canyon High School) – Three-year letterwinner at New Braunfels Canyon HS who is slated to play guard for the Wildcats. … Helped lead his team to the playoffs in both 2012 and 2013. … He was a second team all-District 25-5A selection after his senior season. … An honorable mention all-district selection as a junior and a second team all-district selection as a junior. … Played at Canyon for head coach Matthew Elliott.
TRAVAUGHN MOORE, DT, 6-3, 310, Tyler, Texas (John Tyler High School) – Moore joins ACU as a defensive tackle after playing as an offensive lineman in 2012 and defensive tackle in 2013. … As a senior in 2013, Moore finished with 23 total tackles (5 solo) and three quarterback hurries. … High school teammate of fellow ACU signee Terry Ausborne. … … Played at Tyler John Tyler for head coach Ricklan Holmes.
EDDIE NGUNGUTAU, DT, 6-2, 320, Euless, Texas (Trinity High School) – Signed with Abilene Christian, but will be going on a two-year mission after graduating from high school and won't report to the Wildcats until August 2016. … First team all-District 6-5A for the Trojans as a senior in 2013. … Honorable mention all-District 6-5A for the Trojans as a junior in 2012. … Played at San Leandro High School in San Leandro, Calif., as a sophomore. … Played at Trinity for head coach Steve Lineweaver.
MOE NGUNGUTAU, OL, 6-2, 310, Euless, Texas (Trinity High School) – Signed with Abilene Christian, but will be going on a two-year mission after graduating from high school and won't report to the Wildcats until August 2016. … First team all-District 6-5A for the Trojans as a senior in 2013. … Honorable mention all-District 6-5A for the Trojans as a junior in 2012. ... Played at San Leandro High School in San Leandro, Calif., as a sophomore. … Played at Trinity for head coach Steve Lineweaver.
DALLAS SEALEY, QB, 6-0, 190, Lawton, Okla. (Lawton High School) – Sealey threw for 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior at Lawton HS while leading Lawton to the Class 6A quarterfinals. … He was incredibly efficient, completing 58 percent of his passes and not throwing an interception. … Sealey was an honorable mention all-state selection by the Daily Oklahoman in 2013. … Led Lawton to the District
6A-4 championship and an unblemished 10-0 regular season, the 11th perfect regular season in program history. … He was the District 6A-4 Quarterback of the Year. … Played at Lawton for head coach Randy Breeze.
MYLES SOLSBERRY, LB, 6-1, 210, Plano, Texas (Plano Senior High School) – Led the Wildcats of Plano Senior HS to the playoffs in both 2012 and 2013. … A first team all-District 10-5A selection at linebacker after his senior season. … Also a first team all-district selection by texasfootball.com and 5Atexasfootball.com. … As a junior in 2012 he was an honorable mention all-district selection. … Solsberry is a member of the National Merit Scholar Society who has perfect attendance throughout his school career. … Played at Plano for head coach Jaydon McCullough.
KRIS THIGPEN, OL, 6-2, 290, Arlington, Texas (Bowie High School) – Three-year starter for Bowie at both guard and center. … Projected to play guard for the Wildcats. … During his three seasons (2011-13), the Volunteers were a combined 30-9 with an 11-2 district championship season in 2012. … Thigpen was a first team all-district performer in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and a first team all-region performer in 2013. … He was the district's Sophomore of the Year in 2011 and was on the Texas Rising Stars Team in 2011. … Member of the National Latin Honors Society. … Played at Bowie for head coach Danny DeArman
A.J. TOLBERT, DE, 6-0, 235, Southlake, Texas (Carroll High School) – Three-year letterman for the Dragons who was part of the 2011 Class 5A Division II state championship team. … As a senior, he helped the Dragons to an 11-2 district championship season. … First team all-district and the team's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2013. … Finished his senior season with 81 total tackles (33 solo) and two sacks. … Second team all-district performer as a junior in 2012. … Finished the season with 37 tackles (22 solo) and three sacks. … Son of former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Tony Tolbert. … Played at Carroll for former ACU letterman and Dragons' head coach Hal Wasson.
LARRY McDUFFEY, WR, 5-9, 160, jr, Tr, Galena Park, Texas (Galena Park North Shore HS / Univ. of Houston) – Transfers to ACU from the University of Houston and should compete for a spot in the starting lineup. … As a sophomore in 2013, McDuffey played in eight games with starts in the first six. … He was seventh on the team with 17 receptions for 115 yards. … McDuffey had multiple receptions in five games with a season-best five catches against Texas-San Antonio. … As a freshman in 2012, McDuffey was named to the Conference USA all-Freshman team. …He led all freshmen in the league with four receiving touchdowns and was second behind teammate Deontay Greenberry in receiving among freshmen with 28 receptions for 382 yards. … He played in nine games with four starts. … He hauled in eight receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown against Rice. … He led Houston in receiving yards in three games. … McDuffey also had three kickoff returns for 63 yards. … He was second on the team with 12 plays of at least 20 yards or longer. … McDuffey also competed in the Conference USA Indoor Track & Field Championships for Houston, finishing eighth in the long jump and 12th in the triple jump. … In two seasons at Houston he had 45 catches for 497 yards and four touchdowns with a long reception of 64 yards against Texas State in 2012. At Galena Park North Shore High School, McDuffey was one of the country's fastest players and is a two-sport standout, also starring on the track. … He was a three-star wide receiver prospect by ESPN.com. … As a senior, he was a first team all-district selection after catching 28 passes for 587 yards and nine TDs. … He averaged 21 yards per catch during his final season. … On the track, he recorded a career-best triple jump of 47 feet, 1.75 inches as a junior. … He has been clocked at the sub-4.4 range in the 40-yard dash. … He was a member of North Shore's back-to-back track and field championship teams. … He has a career-best of 10.5 in the 100 meters.
WILLIAM MOORE, DE, 6-1, 235, jr, Tr, Houston, Texas (Madison HS / Univ. of Houston) – Younger brother of former ACU defensive lineman Donald Moore. … Moore transfers to ACU from the University of Houston. … Spent the 2013 season as a redshirt. … As a sophomore in 2012, Moore saw action in nine games as a reserve defensive end and assisted in first career sack against Alabama-Birmingham. … He recorded his first career solo sack UTEP. … He also forced a fumble against the Miners. … As a freshman in 2011, Moore played in eight games as a reserve linebacker and special teams performer, finishing with seven tackles, including a season-high three solo stops at Alabama-Birmingham. … He opened his freshman season with assisted tackles in games against Georgia State, UTEP, East Carolina and Marshall. … In high school at Houston Madison HS, he earned first team all-District 20-5A honors in both 2009 and 2010. … He was the Touchdown Club of Houston Defensive Player of the Year Finalist, and he was the district's Most Valuable Defensive Player and Most Valuable Defensive Lineman in both 2009 and 2010. … As a junior he recorded 80 tackles and eight sacks. … He also ran the anchor leg on the 4x100 relay team.
PARKER WHITNEY, OL, 6-3, 295, jr, Tr, Rose Hill, Kan. (Rose Hill HS / Butler Community College) – Transfers to ACU from Butler Community College and should contend for a starting spot on ACU's offensive line in 2014. … Whitney was one of 10 Butler players who transferred to NCAA Division I programs in December. … Whitney was part of a sophomore group that compiled a 20-3 record in 2012 and 2013, winning back-to-back Jayhawk Conference and Region VI playoff championships. … The Grizzlies finished No. 2 in the nation in 2011 and No. 6 in 2012, keeping alive a streak of 16 consecutive years in the top 10, the longest streak in the NJCAA. … As a senior at Rose Hill High School, Whitney was an honorable mention Class 4A all-state selection. … He was also an Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League (AVCTL) Division 3 first team offensive lineman selection, and was also on the Topeka Capital-Journal Class 4A all-state offensive line. … He was an honorable mention all-state offensive line and honorable mention defensive line selection by the Wichita Eagle.
Information for this story provided by ACU Athletics.
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- KTXS Forecast: Tracking scattered cloud cover with low to mid-80s for the work week
- Abilene locations to offer early voting Monday
- Candlelight vigil held in Brownwood for domestic violence victims
- Brownwood domestic violence shelter holding candlelight vigil Thursday
- Brownwood breaks four month slide in sales tax collections
- Brownwood man faces backlash for controversial Halloween display
- Brownwood traffic stop leads to arrest of Abilene man, 21, with 42 grams of meth
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- Football Friday Night: Latest scores from Abilene, the Big Country
- Brookesmith ISD board appoints acting principal in wake of superintendent stepping down
- Brookesmith ISD superintendent steps down amid talk of consolidation with another district
- Judge tweaks sentences for couple convicted of murdering Abilene police officer
- Brookesmith ISD meeting on possible consolidation gets heated