Skyhawks tout huge 2024 recruiting class

Published 11:15 am Thursday, February 15, 2024

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National Signing Day wrapped up last week for colleges and high school athletes across the country, and the Skyhawks football team boasts a recruiting class that touts 37 class of 2024 graduates and six mid-year transfers. 

Head coach Trevor Zeiders and the rest of the staff were focused on improving at every position that could be improved with this recruiting class. The Skyhawks added several players that will compete for starting roles immediately including North Alabama transfer quarterback Brayson Edwards. 

“The biggest thing first and foremost is any position you have the ability to upgrade, we felt like we needed to try and do that first,” Zeiders said. “We’ve got some guys that we think can come in and compete very quickly. If they do things well, we should be in very good shape.” 

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Edwards will be competing with Chambers Academy alum Payton Allen and Mitch Gossett for the starting quarterback position next season. Maleek Pope is transferring in from North Alabama and will likely get immediate playing time at running back. Shawn Jones is transferring back to Point from Jacksonville State and will be playing an immediate role at wideout. Defensive lineman Julius Beavers from Reinhardt is another transfer who could get some playing time next season. 

Antwuan Clayton from Dooly High School in Georgia is a quarterback prospect that Zeiders is excited about. Several incoming freshmen will have an opportunity to play and compete for roles over the summer and leading into fall camp. 

“One of the biggest things I tell all of them, is if you come in and compete, and do the things you need to do, you’re gonna have the ability to come in and compete and earn, earn a spot or time,” Zeiders said. 

“Quarterback, it’s always tough just because they have to learn everything. I’m not saying we expect either one of them to start, but Paul Berkeley and Tyrell McGuire, just because of where we’re at in regards to our current tight-end situation with only having more on the roster, those two could easily see plenty of time this fall.” 

The Skyhawks put an emphasis on adding talent heading into next season, but the coaching also put importance on recruiting local talent. 

All but three players in Point’s 2024 recruiting class come from either Alabama or Georgia. The Skyhawks also have also recruited kids from local high schools, one being Beulah linebacker Bronson DuBose. 

“It’s the opportunity to get so much more done, and what I mean by that is now mom and dad can come watch you play on weekends,” Zeiders said. “They’re not having to drive all over the state. Number one that builds our fan base. The more local kids we have, that helps to keep those people in the stands. It’s also from a pride perspective, you tend to do things that you may not do otherwise.” 

Aside from just their focus on recruiting, there are several differences between recruiting at Point University and other universities. 

With a smaller coaching staff and without things such as NIL deals, each coach is assigned to recruit a large amount of players. A bigger school would have each coach assigned to around five players. 

The amount of money high-level players command in college football now also changes things for the Skyhawks. Point is not handing out thousands of dollars in NIL deals, instead, the coaching staff is focused on recruiting the right guys for Point University. 

Another challenge that the Skyhawks face is the possibility of the school not having the desired major of a recruit. Point University has grown over the years, but there still are some majors not offered such as engineering. 

Zeiders is going into his fifth season with the Skyhawks, his third as the head coach, and over time the recruiting process has changed drastically. The Skyhawks have grown to put a larger focus on not just recruiting high-level athletes but also recruiting athletes with good personal qualities. 

“We’re actually looking for better overall individuals,” Zeiders said. “We’re putting a lot of time into learning about these kids’ character. I’m a big believer in the fact that you’re gonna win with good people.” 

The Skyhawks are no longer looking at guys that are problems in the classroom. The coaching staff has put an emphasis on recruiting athletes who excel in the classroom, the locker room and on the football field. 

While several of the freshmen from this recruiting class will compete for playing time right away, it will likely be less than in previous years. The Skyhawks have grown their retention rate over the past few seasons, and Point is now able to grow their athletes over time. 

“We’re not going to win with playing freshmen every year,” Zeiders said. “It’s an 18, or a 19-year-old kid playing against 20 to 23-year-old men, there’s a gigantic difference between those two.” 

Opportunities are also opening up within the Skyhawks program. Kemorion Larkin and Nicholas Marian were recently invited to a pro day. Opportunities like the ones Larkin and Marian have gained help Point to retain more of its football players and recruit an even higher level of talent. 

“In the past, we weren’t getting a lot of those calls,” Zeiders said. “We weren’t having a lot of those opportunities. So the fact that that’s even starting to happen is a giant step in the right direction for us.” 

The Skyhawks are close to being done with recruiting for the 2024 cycle, but Zeiders believes there will be small additions later in the process. Point is still looking to add depth at tight end, and the Skyhawks are still looking at some local players who have yet to find a home.