Northwestern State’s football signing class of 2023 became whole Wednesday.
The Demons announced the addition of 18 players to the 10 they signed in December’s early signing period. Northwestern State’s signing class mixed both high school players and transfers from four-year and junior colleges.
“For us to bring in 23 signees, it’s kind of what we thought,” said head coach Brad Laird, who begins his sixth season at the helm of his alma mater. “You break that down and you have 10 high school signees and 13 transfers. Then you bring in another five preferred walk-ons to add to that. It’s a great mixture of experience with some transfer guys and some freshmen to continue to build the program.
“We had 11 seniors who exhausted eligibility, and we wanted to replace them with high school seniors. That’s what we were able to do. A great mixture of experience and high school seniors.”
That mix started in the wide receiver room where NSU added two freshmen Wednesday, getting signatures from Westgate’s Amaaz Eugene and Marshall (Texas) High School’s Jacorey Smith.
Eugene tallied more than 2,700 all-purpose yards at Westgate in New Iberia as a senior, scoring 23 touchdowns. Playing in a run-first offense, Smith pulled in 35 passes and five touchdowns as a senior, earning all-district honors.
“When you look at our receiving corps, it is top-heavy,” Laird said. “We wanted to bring in some younger guys. We were able to do that within this group. Those guys joining the older guys in that room will be good.”
NSU added a pair of prep defensive linemen as well, picking up Ruston all-stater Christian Davis and an all-district performer from Texas in V.R. Eaton’s Chancellor Owens.
Davis recorded 76 tackles and had five sacks as the Bearcats advanced to their first state championship game since 1998. Owens, meanwhile, recorded 21 sacks in two seasons at Eaton, helping the Eagles reach the Texas Class 6A Division II third round as a junior.
Davis was not the only Demon addition to bring state championship experience to the class as Homer linebacker Brendon Harris was part of a state title team in his junior season and a state runner-up this past fall.
“One from Homer who has played in a couple of state championships and here lately, Christian Davis from Ruston High, what a year they had,” Laird said. “To bring in guys who come from that kind of culture that we want to have here just expands what we want to do.”
St. Augustine defensive back Jeremiah Keppard topped the Demons’ seven new additions. An all-district selection, Keppard helped the Purple Knights earn a first-round bye in the playoffs this past fall before they fell to Brother Martin and fellow NSU signee Troy Santa Marina Jr., who will join Keppard in the Demon secondary.
Between December’s signing period and Wednesday, the Demons added seven additional transfers who have taken part in NSU’s offseason workouts ahead of spring practice that begins March 14.
Among the new Demons are a mix of offensive players – tight end Sylvester “Pete” Campbell, wide receiver Myles Kitt-Denton and offensive lineman Quentin Ross – and defenders William White (safety), Anthony Richard Jr. (cornerback), Ty Ely (defensive end), Nazir Sy (defensive line) and Jeremiah Bodwin (defensive end).
“When you look at an area or a couple of areas we needed to grow, the offensive and defensive line, we signed four offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen,” Laird said. “We had four wide receivers and five defensive backs. Those were a couple of areas we needed to hit on and we did.
“The 13 transfers we’ve been able to add to the group already and the 10 high school seniors we’ll get here in the summer will be big. What these guys are doing with our new strength and conditioning coach, Jason Smelser, is big. We pushed spring practice back because things are going so well, and we want to continue that.”
2023 Northwestern State Signing Class
Chris Allen, OL, 6-3, 265, Shreveport, Louisiana-Captain Shreve HS
Jeremiah Bodwin, OLB/DE, 6-4, 225, Dallas, Texas-Parish Episcopal HS (Nevada)
Ja’Marion Bonner, CB, 6-1, 180, Bastrop, Louisiana-Sterlington HS
Sylvester “Pete” Campbell, TE, 6-4, 240, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Martin Luther HS (Mississippi Valley State)
Christian Davis, DL, 6-2, 300, Ruston, Louisiana-Ruston HS
Will Derrick, WR, 6-0, 170, Shreveport, Louisiana-Calvary Baptist Academy (ULM)
Ty Ely, DE, 6-2, 245, Oxnard, California-Oaks Christian HS (New Mexico State/Moorpark CC)
Amaaz Eugene, WR, 5-8, 160, New Iberia, Louisiana-Westgate HS
JT Fayard, QB, 6-5, 220, Richmond, Texas-Foster HS
Donte Glass, ATH, 6-1, 185, New Orleans, Louisiana-Sophie B. Wright HS
Antonio Hall, CB, 6-1, 160, Fort Worth, Texas-Nolan Catholic HS
Cam Hardy, S, 6-1, 195, Frisco, Texas-Reedy HS (South Carolina)
Brendon Harris, LB, 6-3, 220, Homer, Louisiana-Homer HS
Jeremiah Keppard, S, 6-3, 170, New Orleans, Louisiana-St. Augustine HS
Ryan Larson, OL, 6-4, 290, Nacogdoches, Texas-Nacogdoches HS
Tyler McMillan, OL, 6-6, 315, Detroit, Michigan-River Rouge HS (Mississippi Valley State)
Chancellor Owens, DE, 6-3, 255, Haslet, Texas-V.R. Eaton HS
Hanzlah Rana, OL, 6-3, 285, Richmond, Texas-George Ranch HS
Keshawn Reed, DL, 6-3, 271, Monroe, Louisiana-Richwood HS
Anthony Richard Jr., CB, 6-2, 185, Lafayette, Louisiana-Lafayette Christian Academy (Harding)
Quinton Ross, OL, 6-3, 300, Baton Rouge, Louisiana-Woodlawn HS (Garden City CC)
Troy Santa Marina Jr., CB, 5-11, 175, Slidell, Louisiana-Brother Martin HS
Trevion Sneed, DL, 6-2, 242, Mineola, Texas-Mineola HS (SMU)
Nazir Sy, DL, 6-3, 300, Peachtree Corners, Georgia-Norcross HS (Akron/Butler CC)
Tyler Vander Waal, QB, 6-4, 220, Sacramento, California-Christian Brothers HS (Idaho State)
William White III, S, 6-1, 205, Carrollton, Texas-Hebron HS (Houston)
Brian Young Jr., S, 5-11, 195, Natchitoches, Louisiana-Natchitoches Central HS