HAMMOND — Southeastern Louisiana football coach Ron Roberts is about to find out if the old adage “bigger is better” really holds true.
The Lions unveiled a 37-man recruiting class on Wednesday, with an emphasis on bulking up the offensive and defensive lines and adding experience in several areas.
SLU’s class includes three football subdivision transfers among 13 mid-year signees and 17 total junior college transfers while adding players at every position except tight end.
“It’s pretty well-rounded,” Roberts said. “Our biggest spot, obviously, was up front — offensive, defensive lines. That’s probably the biggest numbers we got, and then we were pretty selective. We didn’t have to get a lot of bodies in the skill positions. We just needed the right guys. We needed depth up front on both sides — the offensive and defensive lines. I think this class addressed all of our needs, really.”
The class includes eight offensive linemen, including three coming in over 300 pounds in D.J. Williams
(6-foot-5, 320 pounds) of Garden City Community College, Travis Romero (6-3, 315) of Manvel, Texas High and Laurence Ramsey (6-1, 310) of Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“If you want bigger people, you’ve got to recruit bigger people,” Roberts said. “There’s a bunch of these guys I’m looking at, I mean, I’m expecting a lot of these linemen to start. I really think they will. There’s going to be a lot of guys here that started here, they’re going to get beat out.”
SLU’s haul of six defensive linemen includes a pair of 300-plus-pounders in
St. Charles Catholic’s Taylor Cochran (6-3, 315) and Titus Charles (6-0, 305) of Karr as well as Kentwood’s Javari Nichols (6-3, 290) and O. Perry Walker’s Emmanuel Dayries.
“All the D-linemen we signed are big, physical guys that are athletic,” Roberts said. “They can run. They’re not just gap players.”
Southeastern’s three FCS transfers include quarterback Bryan Bennett of Oregon, running back Kody Sutton of Wyoming and defensive back Devantae Davis of North Texas and Woodlawn High School.
Bennett, a backup the past two seasons, rushed for 165 yards and scored six TDs while playing in 10 games last season. But Roberts didn’t name Bennett his starting quarterback for next season.
“He’s got to compete for it,” Roberts said. “I think going into the spring, the race (is) between him and Jordan Barnett, and Jordan’s a kid we have a lot of confidence in. We think he’s going to be a great player. “
Sutton, who did not play last season, had 146 yards on 30 carries as a freshman for the Cowboys. He and Darrius Guy of Copiah-Lincoln are the only two running backs in SLU’s class.
Davis is one of six defensive backs in the class, and one of three to sign at midyear.
At receiver, SLU added Amite’s Jervenski Johnson, who originally committed to Arkansas, Dario Robinson of Armory, Miss., and Kendrick Peeples of Reedley College. Marquis Hayes of Copiah-Lincoln CC was a mid-year signee.
Robinson, who was pursued by Illinois, rushed for 1,021 yards and 10 TDs and caught 52 passes for 801 yards and five TDs last season. Peeples was the second-leading junior college receiver in California last season with 78 catches for 839 yards and six TD.
“At the midterm, we wanted a guy who could stretch the field, and we got Marquis Hayes,” Roberts said. “Jervenski Johnson is an Arkansas commit the whole time and may be one of the best receivers in the state.”
Among the four linebackers is Mandeville’s Preston Winget.
Central OL Tyler Abadie, Parkview Baptist LB Hunter Brian, Ponchatoula K/P Brody Hay and OL Daniel Henderson of Oak Forest are part of the class as preferred walk-ons.