Southeastern Louisiana has one Southland Conference championship and a share of another in the past two seasons.
And if Lions coach Ron Roberts’ assessment of Wednesday’s signing class is on target, more titles could be on the way.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I think it’s a great class. We’ve got to see how it’s going to pan out, but I think right now, you look off just evaluating their ability and coming in here, I think this is our best signing class we’ve had in three years.”
The Lions added 28 signees to go with eight midyear additions, focusing on filling need areas.
Wednesday’s class features six receivers, five offensive linemen, five defensive backs, four defensive linemen, three linebackers, two quarterbacks, a running back, a tight end and a punter.
Roberts said returnee D’Shaie Landor will have the starting nod at quarterback heading into spring drills, taking over for Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year Bryan Bennett, but the Lions added a pair of quarterbacks in Larry Cutbirth of Citrus (California) College and J.T. Jackson of Neville.
“He’s got the arm strength to do everything,” Roberts said of Cutbirth, who passed for 45 touchdowns in two seasons at Citrus College. “We like the way he carries himself — his personality as a quarterback. He’s a competitor. He’s a gym rat, does the work.
“We really like the kid we’re bringing in here from Neville, J.T. Jackson,” Roberts said. “I think he’s got a heck of a skill set, and he’s going to have an opportunity to develop as a quarterback before he gets thrown in the fire.”
Along the offensive line, Roberts is looking for Reggie Harris (Trinity Valley JC), Kristian Megowan (College of the Canyons) and mid-year signee Justin Barksdale (Northeast Mississippi CC) to make immediate impacts.
“All three of them actually can play tackle — could possibly go inside — and that’s where we really thought we needed to get better,” Roberts said.
“All of our JC guys ... we expect they need to come in and compete for jobs right now,” Roberts said. “They need to compete, push or get the job, one or the other.”
Highlighting the receiver group are Javon Conner (Landry-Walker), William French (Dodge City CC) and James Jackson (Pasadena City College) and mid-year signee Brandon Acker (East Mississippi CC).
“We’ve got a lot of veterans coming back at the receiver position, so the pressure’s not there for them to have to do something right away, but I think those guys can all push for a job,” Roberts said.
The Lions bolstered their secondary with mid-year signees Will Hines (Arkansas), Demareyeh Lane (Laney College) and Javon Tillman (Sierra College) while adding Jacorey Fuller (Calvary Baptist), Latrone Williams (St. Helena Central), Diego Griffin (Lusher) and Tre’ Spann (DeSoto Central).
“We added four freshmen today that are all talented kids that can cover, they can hit you,” Roberts said. “Very athletic.”
Also in the fold are linebackers Roderick Simon (Landry-Walker), Davonte McMillan (Trinity Valley JC), George Brister (Covington) and Gary Sampson (Northlake Christian) and early signee Antreon Bennett (Holmes CC).
“The Brister and the Sampson kid are both very athletic, big guys,” Roberts said. “They’re around the 230-, 240-pound range and can run really well.
“We’ve got guys here, but we added two (Bennett and McMillan) that should be able to compete for jobs right now, and two young guys that I think that are exactly what we’re looking for.”
Another area Roberts said the Lions solidified themselves in is on the defensive line with a group that includes Miki Fangatua (Riverside City College), Solomon Parker (Georgia Military Institute) and Kurrell Vaughn (Calvary Baptist).
“I think Solomon Parker and Miki Fangatua are impact guys immediately,” Roberts said. “I think they’re great players. And Kurrell Vaughn is a guy who comes from a great high school program — state champion. I think we’ve got a good mixture of what we needed to. You’ve got to have great defensive linemen to do what you’re going to do.”
The lone running back in the class is Livonia’s Malcolm Dedrick, and the only tight end is Ryan Ramirez (Riverside City College, California).
“He’s a good player,” Roberts said of Dedrick.
“He’s prototypical of everything we’ve been looking for as a tight end,” Roberts said of Ramirez. “He’s athletic, can catch the ball, runs well, is a dominating blocker. He’s a big kid. We’re real excited to have him. He’ll add a whole other dimension to our offense.”
The Lions added punter/kicker Harrison Heim (Tomball, Texas HS) at mid-year and signed punter Ivy Wall of Oak Forest on Wednesday.
“He’s a great punter, strong field goals, kicking off, everything, so it’s just him making that transition,” Roberts said of Heim. “What’s he capable of doing as a freshman?”