Morgan State football coach Ernest T. Jones stood before a congregation of media and alumni Wednesday and, with the passion of a preacher, trumpeted the biggest names of next fall’s recruits, to wit:
- Jared Lewis, quarterback of Dunbar’s state Class 1A champions and a second-team All Metro pick.
- Tyler Holley, Perry Hall’s signal caller who passed for more than 1½ miles and 34 touchdowns last fall.
- Jordan Cofield, a New Town speedster and the defending state 2A indoor track champion in the 55-meter dash.
Local standouts, all.
“We had to do better at keeping our own at home — and we did a pretty good job this year,” Morgan State athletic director Edward Scott said. “It’s a great day to be a Bear.”
On national signing day, at a school rich in football tradition but now mired in mediocrity, no one was more upbeat than Jones, 48, the interim head coach who replaced Fred Farrier in December. Farrier led the Bears for two years, going 3-8 as interim coach in 2016 and 1-10 as head coach last season, when Jones served as co-defensive coordinator.
“It’s a new day, the rebirth of Bears pride,” Jones said. “We understand what’s out there in front of us, but I have a plan to move us forward. We’re not thinking about what happened last year, or two years ago. We’re going to put a team out there that will give us an opportunity to win in the fourth quarter.”
The new recruits will fuel that fire, the coach said:
“This is an explosive, dynamic class of guys who are going to make an impact on the program right now.”
Twenty strong, the incoming class includes four defensive backs, four wide receivers, three defensive linemen and two quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen. One linebacker, long snapper and punter-kicker — Nick O’Shea, an all-state booter from Detroit — round out the group. The ragged play of special teams cost Morgan State several games last year.
Six recruits are from both Maryland and Florida, three are from Virginia and two from Michigan. One each come from New York, Pennsylvania and New York.
It’s a solid group on which to build, the athletic director said.
“We’ve had five winning seasons in 44 years, and that’s not acceptable. Our fans deserve better,” said Scott, who celebrated the 15-month anniversary of his arrival at Morgan State on Wednesday. “We are going to get back to where we were.”
Jones made no bones about wanting to lead the charge.
“They say I’m interim, but I am the head coach and I plan to be here for a long time to come,” he said.
What must he do to keep the job?
“I don’t put win/loss totals on any of my coaches,” Scott said. “But a .500 season is a great starting point for us. If we win half or our games and are making strides, I’ll be very pleased. But after that, I expect more. We’re not going to rest.”
The signing class (Source: Morgan State Athletics)
Marcus Parker Jr. | Defensive Back | 5-10 | 180 | Wilson, N.C. | Beddingfield HS | Played well for Beddingfield High ... All-Conference ... earned Iron Man Award (Best Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year) ... All-Conference Track & Field performer ... loves contact ... son of Marcus Parker Sr.
Detrick Washington | Linebacker | 5-11 | 220 | Largo | DeMatha Catholic HS | Played at DeMatha Catholic High under coach Elijah Brooks... All-Conference ... son of Teresa Washington and Detrick Sr.
Bryan Giron | Defensive Tackle | 6-2 | 265 | Annandale, Va. | Falls Church HS | Was a big strong and athletic standout at Falls Church High where he was coached by Said Aziz ... Two-time First Team-All Conference ... Two-time First Team All-Region ... First Team All-State ... Conference Player of the Year ... son of Delfino Giron and Guadalupe Loiero.
Tyler Holley | Quarterback | 6-4 | 180 | Baltimore | Perry Hall HS | Was a two-sport prep standout at Perry Hall High ... dual threat QB ... was selected Baltimore County Player of the Year ... Holds All Passing Records for Perry Hall ... was an All-State and All-Region Basketball selection and helped his team to a State Championship Title ... son of Lashonda Joyner and Lamark Holley.
Jordan Presley | Defensive Back | 6-3 | 200 | St. Petersburg, Fla. | Clearwater Central Catholic HS | Was an All-Conference performer at Clearwater Central Catholic HS under coach Chris Harvey ... can play free or strong safety ... solid tackler ... son of Safrone and Earl Presley.
Nicholas O'Shea | Kicker/Punter | 5-9 | 165 | Detroit | West Bloomfield HS | Was an All-League performer at West Bloomfield HS under coach Ron Bellamy ... All County ... All Region ... All State ... Ranked Top 40 in the nation for kicking and punting ... expected to change field position for the Bears ... son of Lisa O'Shea.
Zachary Castano | Long-Snapper | 6-0 | 205 | Miami | Christopher Columbus HS | Was a 5-star long-snapper at Columbus HS under coach Chris Merritt ... ranked 4th in the country by Kornblue ... son of Amy and Fernando Castano.
Jalen Jackson | Running Back | 5-9 | 210 | Detroit | Detroit MLK HS | Was named First Team All-City at Detroit MLK HS under coach Ty Spencer ... electric running back ... great vision ... very elusive ... son of Andrea and Jerome Jackson.
Jordan Riggins | Running Back | 6-0 | 200 | Fort Lauderdale, Fla. | Cardinal Gibbons HS | Was an All-Conference performer at Cardinal Gibbons HS under coach Matt Dubuc ... son of Ericka Williams and Joe Riggins.
Saleem Lockett | Defensive Line | 6-3 | 295 | Chester, Pa. | The Hill School | Imhotep Charter | Was coached by Jeff Holloway and Albie Crosby ... physical and changes the line of scrimmage ... can get off blocks ... son of Kimberly Payne and Jesse Lockett.
Jordan Cofield | Returner/Wide Receiver | 5-8 | 145 | Owings Mills | New Town HS | Was a two-sport athlete at New Town High ... as a track standout he was a two-time 200m and 100m state champion ... he was also a three-time 60m champion.
Eric Roy | Defensive Back | 5-11 | 180 | Woodbridge, Va. | C.D. Hylton HS | Was a standout prep athlete at C.D. Hylton HS under coach Tony Lilly ... excelled in pass coverage and against the run ... playmaker ... First Team Conference ... First Team Region ... Second Team All-State ... son of Ann-Maria Gutierrez.
Jared Lewis | Quarterback | 6-3 | 220 | Baltimore | Dunbar HS | Was selected the Baltimore Player of the Year after ... as a senior he threw for over 2,500 yards and helped lead Dunbar to Maryland 1A Championship ... As a 3-year year varsity starter his statistics were as follows: 431 completions out of 684 attempts ... 63% completion rate ... 7,649 passing yards with 66 tds ... 1,130 rushing yards with 9 rushing tds.
Tariq Irving | Defensive Back | 6-1 | 190 | New Carrollton | West Hills College | Transfers to the Bears as a JUCO transfer from West Hill College in Coalinga (Calif) under coach Justin Berna ... plays with leverage ... big and strong ... was an academic All-American ... son of Juleen Rowe.
Corey Holmes | Wide Receiver | 6-2 | 185 | Fort Lauderdale, Fla. | University of Notre Dame | St. Thomas Aquinas HS | Joins the Bears as a transfer from Notre Dame ... played wide receiver at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida ... Ranked as 94th best player nationally by ESPN, 200th by Scout.com and 224th by Rivals.com ... honorable mention all-Broward County selection for Classes 8A-7A-6A by South Florida Sun-Sentinel ... ... helped team to 10-3 mark as a senior in 2013, catching 24 passes for 432 yards and four TDs ... was coahed by NFL Hall of Famer Chris Carter ... son of Carolyn and David Holmes.
Brendan Easley | Wide Receiver | 6-5 | 190 | Orlando, Fla. | East River HS | Played at East River HS under coach Tony Piccalo ... was a 2-Star Athlete ... 3rd Ranked Prep School Player in the Country ... son of Megan and David Easley.
Tarik Johnson | Offensive Line | 6-4 | 300 | Liberty, N.Y. | Liberty HS | Played at Liberty High where he was a First Team All-American selection ... Honorable Mention All-America ... son of Eva and Stephen Johnson.
Xavier Gravette | Wide Receiver | 6-4 | 190 | Nottingham | Calvert Hall HS | Played at Calvert Hall High where he was an All-MIAA and All-Metro selection ... finished his prep career with 27 catches for 296 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns … as a junior he had 16 catches for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns … caught a game winning touchdown in overtime during his senior year against Gilman high school ... was a member of the Chest Club and Year Book Club ... son of Erica and Demetrius Gravette.
Dallas Caporaletti | Offensive Line | 6-4 | 280 | Catlett, Va. | C.D Hylton HS | Played at C.D Hylton under coach Tony Lilly where he was a First Team All-State selection ... First Team All-Region ... First Team All-Conference ... fierce competitor ... son of Debbie Caporaletti.
Marvin Francois | Defensive Line | 6-3 | 290 | North Miami, Fla. | North Miami HS | Is an athletic lineman from North Miami HS ... coached by Jeff Bertani … 2017 Defensive Lineman of the Year ... son of Charmoune Eliezer.