The Northwestern State football team has picked up a boost in all three phases earlier this month from a trio of Football Bowl Subdivision transfers.
The Demons picked up wide receiver Akile Davis, a graduate transfer from BYU, Texas Tech transfer linebacker Ja’Quay Pough and kicker Daniel Justino, who joined Northwestern State from Florida.
“For them to be here and learn the system is huge,” second-year head coach Brad Laird said. “Ja’Quay and Akile have the opportunity to learn the system in our OTAs and meetings, and then Daniel has the chance to kick with Scotty Roblow and Parker Pastorello and work with McKane Kinchen as a snapper and Parker as the holder to start developing that continuity.”
All three transfers bring experience with them, something Laird wanted to add, especially to the Demons receiving corps.
Davis, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound pass catcher originally from DeSoto, Texas, caught five passes for the Cougars in his career and added a fumble recovery against Mississippi State. He appeared in all 12 games of his redshirt sophomore year of 2017.
“Akile is a young man who is very mature,” Laird said. “He graduated from BYU. As we go through our OTAs, his ability to prepare is apparent. He brings an older guy in that room, especially with us losing three seniors and a junior to the draft. We wanted to bring in some guys with some maturity who have played. He hits all those categories as far as what we wanted to accomplish in bringing in a receiver.”
Like Davis, Pough brings maturity to the defensive side of the ball for Northwestern State.
After two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College, Pough spent the 2018 season at Texas Tech, appearing in four games. He made one tackle against Iowa State and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
It was a prior relationship that helped bring Pough (6-1, 220) to Natchitoches.
“When I first got the job, we recruited him at Trinity Valley and built a relationship,” Laird said. “He played for (NSU offensive coordinator) coach (Brad) Smiley, and he and coach (Mike) Lucas really did a great job of recruiting him. He remembered how we approached him. He fits the need we had for a linebacker with experience.”
Justino joins Pough as Power Five conference transfers, coming to Northwestern State from Florida.
A 5-8, 178-pounder, Justino is expected immediately to battle for the Demons’ kicking duties.
“We saw a lot of his film at Florida,” Laird said. “He wanted to be the guy, so he’ll have the ability to come in and compete. He brings experienced from the SEC that we feel very comfortable with moving forward at the kicking position.”
The Demons report for fall camp on July 30 in advance of the Aug. 29 season opener at UT Martin. That game is set for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.