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Jacksonville State University Signs 13

Jax State signs 13

Jacksonville, AL – Fresh off of New Orleans Bowl victory, Gamecocks add 10 high school players, three transfers in early signing period.

By Joe Medley

Jacksonville State’s first football recruiting class after making history with a bowl victory in the Gamecocks’ first FBS season is halfway done.

The Gamecocks announced 13 signees in Wednesday’s opening of the early signing period, including 10 high school players and three transfers. Jax State coach Rich Rodriguez said more players signed but wanted to wait until the February signing period to acknowledge it publicly.

The class includes five three-star prospects.

This comes five days after Jax Sate beat Louisiana 34-31 in overtime in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Gamecocks went 9-4 in their first FBS season.

“I think it gave us a bump,” Rodriguez said. “The bowl game, a little bit, of course because it was on national TV, but the five midweek games were all on national TV, the fact that there was a lot of buzz about Jax State throughout the season, not only helped our recruiting. I hope it helped the school’s enrollment, as well.

“We might have the smallest down in Division I-A, but we’re not the least recognized.”

Jax State signed transfer quarterback Zevi Eckhaus after losing seventh-year senior Zion Webb. Eckhaus is a senior who played three years at Bryant University.

Wide receiver Samario “Flip” Rudolph (UAB) and offensive lineman Cam Jones (Cincinnati) also came via the transfer portal.

The five three-star prospects are wide receiver Jeremiah Colbert, offensive lineman Bubba Grayson, running back Justus Savage, linebacker Zedrick Washington and safety Marc Woods.

As for needs, Jax State signed a quarterback and an athlete who will start his career at quarterback, three wide receivers, a running back, two offensive linemen, a tight end, one defensive lineman, two linebackers and a safety.

“We had to get some athletic linebackers,” Rodriguez said. “We had to get some athletic skill guys on offense, whether they play slot receiver or outside receiver. We’re looking for a running back, which we go, tight end, which we got.

“We need safeties, and we’re still addressing those needs and D-line and safety.”

Portal poaching

Rodriguez said he plans to turn an unnamed college program in for tampering with an unnamed Jax State player. Rodriguez said the alleged activity happened Tuesday morning.

“We have one guy that got bought, that got in the portal, that was clearly tampered with before he got in the portal,” he said. “I know this because I talked to him before he was in the portal, and he told me what school it was, and he told me the amount that they were going to pay him.

“That doesn’t happen independently. Some guy is not going to get a certain amount without some guy on that other staff facilitating that move, so we’re going to turn it in. I tried to call the head coach. No response, of course.”

Jax State offensive lineman Xavier Bausley entered the portal Wednesday. No destination school is listed.

Jax State early signees

Jeremiah Colbert WR, 5-10, 165, FR, Atlanta/Buford HS
Zevi Eckhaus — QB, 6-1, 205, SR, Los Angeles/Culver City HS/Bryant University
Amare Grayson OL, 6-2, 282, FR, Stockbridge (Ga.) HS
Nick Igbeare DL, 6-4, 260, FR, Suwanee, Ga./Collins Hills HS
Cam Jones — OT, 6-8, 330, R-SR, Knott County, Ky./Fredrick Douglass HS/Cincinnati
Alex Moore TE, 6-6, 230, FR, Huntsville HS
Nick Pace LB, 5-11, 190, FR, Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County HS
Samario “Flip” Rudolph — WR, 5-9, 180, R-SR, Mobile/Cottage Hill Christian/UAB
Justus Savage — RB, 5-10, 195, FR, Atlanta/Langston Hughes HS
Wyatt Sonderman — WR, 6-1, 175, FR, Marietta, Ga./Walton HS
Zedric Washington, Jr. LB, 6-3, 225, FR, Magnolia, Miss./Parklane Academy
A.J. Watkins — ATH, 6-2, 195, FR, Lithonia, Ga./Norcross HS
Marc Woods, Jr. — SAF, 6-4, 187, FR, Madison/James Clemens HS

Early signee bios

Includes quotes from Jax State coach Rich Rodriguez on recruits he addressed during Wednesday’s media zoom conference:

A three-star prospect by 247Sports and a two-star prospect by Rivals.com … played his senior season at Buford High School in Buford, Ga. … primarily a wide receiver and kick returner for BHS … also an accomplished track star at Buford … played the 2022 season at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga. … a big play threat with excellent speed both from the receiver position and as a returner on special teams … chose Jax State over several offers that included Army, Georgia State, James Madison, Liberty, Maryland, Middle Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Florida and Western Michigan.

Rich Rodriguez on Jeremiah Colbert: We got some speed in Jeremiah Colbert.

Transferring to Jax State from Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, where he was the Big South-OVC Offensive Player of the Year in 2023 … in his senior season, passed for 2,907 yards and tied the single-season record with 28 passing touchdowns … left Bryant as its career leader in total offense with 9,287 yards, completions with 724 and passing touchdowns with 75 … threw for 8,513 career yards at Bryant … averaged 315 passing yards per game in conference play as a senior … selected to the All-New England Team by the New England Football Writers Association … was a second-team All-Big South quarterback in 2022 after passing for 3,228 yards and 26 touchdowns … as a freshman in 2021, was named All-NEC First Team and was fourth in the race for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top freshman in FCS each year, after passing for 2,392 yards and 21 touchdowns … prepped at Culver City High School in Culver City, Calif., where was named the Los Angeles Times Back of the Year as a senior … a two-time all-state performer that threw for 10,210 yards and 137 touchdowns in his career … chose Jax State over several offers that included Akron, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and Buffalo.

Rich Rodriguez on Zevi Eckhaus: He played at Bryant and had a great three years there, and he’s going to be coming in. We’re really excited about him. He’s an older mature guy, and he was highly productive. He has unbelievable accuracy and timing. He’s an athletic guy who can run, but every pass is right on the money. Extremely intelligent, extremely mature. We needed an older guy. We lose an old guy in Zion (Webb), and we need an older guy to come in and compete right away.

A three-star prospect by 247Sports and a two-star prospect by Rivals.com … prepped at Stockbridge High School in Stockbridge, Ga. … an all-state offensive lineman and a first-team all-region performer for SHS …led the Tigers to a 12-3 record and to a runner-up finish in the 2023 GHA Class 4A State Championship … named to the 2023 GPB Sports All-Finals Team … chose Jax State over several offers that included West Virginia, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, James Madison, Liberty, Maryland, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and Western Kentucky.

Rich Rodriguez on Bubba Grayson: Bubba Grayson was one of the best offensive linemen out of high school we were recruiting, so we’re very excited about him.

Prepped at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga. … was a first-team all-region defensive lineman in Region 8- AAAAAAA for the Eagles as a senior … was named Gwinnett County Player of the Month for October … as a senior, racked up 66 tackles and an impressive 27.0 tackles for a loss, including 11.0 sacks and 25 quarterback hurries … chose Jax State over several offers that included UCF, Georgia Southern, and Buffalo.

Rich Rodriguez on Nick Igbeare: We think he’s got a lot of potential as a defensive lineman.

Spent the previous five seasons as a member of the football program at Cincinnati, where he had a unique path to the offensive line … started his UC career as a 6-1, 205-pound quarterback after signing as a four-star signal caller out of Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Ky. … transitioned to tight end during his redshirt season in 2019, played as a reserve tight end in 2020 before moving to the offensive line prior to the start of the 2021 season … appeared in 12 games on the Bearcats offensive front in 2023 after playing nine games in 2022 and 10 games in 2021 … as a high school quarterback, was the No. 7 player in Kentucky and a Top-30 quarterback nationally … chose Jax State over several offers that included Western Michigan, Marshall and UAB.

Prepped at Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Ala. … named one of the Top Tight End Prospects by Rocket City Preps prior to the 2023 season … was a key member of the Panthers offense as a tight end that was a key blocker in the run game and also an option in the passing game.

Prepped at Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Ga. … helped the Packers to their second-straight region title in 2023 … CCHS finished his senior season with a 12-1 record after falling in the third round of the GHSA 7-A playoffs … was named the Packers Defensive Player of the Year and a Team Captain as s senior … a First-Team All-Region 1-7A selection after his senior season … was also First Team All-Region as a junior in 2022 after leading the Packers in tackles with 160 … chose Jax State over several offers that included Charlotte, Georgia Southern and UMass.

Rich Rodriguez on Nick Pace: Nick Pace is a really good athlete on defense.

Transfer from UAB that has one year of eligibility remaining … in his final season with the Blazers, hauled in 22 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown … in his UAB career, caught 45 receptions for 545 yards and five touchdowns … prepped at Cottage Hill Christian in Mobile, Ala., where he was a first-team all-state wide receiver and the AHSAA Class 2A Back of the Year after his senior season in 2018 … led the Warriors to a 10-2 record, a region title and to the second round of the playoffs as a senior … was the Coastal Alabama Offensive MVP in 2018 after catching 81 passes for 1,667 yards and 24 touchdowns, while also returning 10 kickoffs for 517 yards and three touchdowns.

A three-star prospect by 247Sports … prepped at Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Ga. … 247Sports ranked him the No. 48 running back in the nation in the 2024 class and the No. 63 player in Georgia … ran for over 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns in the rgular season alone in his senior campaign … opened his senior season in a big way, running for 135 yards and two scores in a 39-34 win over Carrollton on ESPN2 … as a junior, ran the ball 153 times for 1,028 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead LHHS to a 15-0 record and the GHSA Class 6A state title … chose the Gamecocks over offers that included Indiana and Toledo.

Rich Rodriguez on Justus Savage: There were some Power 5 opportunities for him. I thought he was one of the most dynamic high school guys that we had on our board. We think he can make an impact pretty quickly.The more we watched him and ranked him, he shot up to the top of the board, just from ability to make somebody miss that kind of fits a lot of stuff that we do. He’s a good-sized guy, too, 5-10, 195. I don’t know if the first guy ever made a tackle on him. Extremely dynamic. Loved him when he came on his visit. Great personality.

Prepped at Walton High School in Marietta, Ga. … an all-state wide receiver in Class 7A in Georgia … led WHS to a 14-1 record and a runner-up finish in the GHSA Class 7A Playoffs in 2023 … Walton finished the season ranked 18th in the MaxPreps National HS Football Rankings, after being ranked in the top 10 before falling in the state championship game … named First-Team All-Region 5 for Class 7A as a senior after catching 32 passes for 506 yards and seven touchdowns … as a junior in 2022, caught 42 passes for 744 yards and 11 touchdowns … also
had offers from UMass, Charleston Southern and Wofford.

Rich Rodriguez on Wyatt Sonderman: He’s a wide receiver that we think can play all four wide receiver positions.

Rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports and a two-star recruit by Rivals.com … 247Sports ranked him the No. 131 Edge linebacker in the nation and the No. 51 player in Mississippi in his class … prepped at Parklane Academy in McComb, Miss. … selected to play in the MAIS 4A-5A-6A All-Star Football Game, where he was named Defensive MVP for the Blue Team … an MAIS All-State selection … chose the Gamecocks over several offers that included Louisiana, Arkansas State, Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and UAB.

Rich Rodriguez on Zedric Washington: Zedrick Washington is another athletic linebacker.

Prepped at Norcross High School in Norcross, Ga. … served as Norcross’ quarterback and earned First-Team All Region 7 for GHSA Class 7A as a senior … was named the Class 7A Region 7 Player of the Year after scoring 17 rushing touchdowns, nine passing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns … threw for 1,114 yards, ran for 1,103 yards and added 370 receiving yards in his senior campaign … chose the Gamecocks over offers that included Air Force, Army, Kennesaw State and Toledo.

Rich Rodriguez on A.J. Watkins: He’s going to get a look at quarterback first and get a chance to learn the system quickly from that. He probably could help us in other areas, but we’ll give him a shot. Really athletic. I think he was probably overlooked in a lot of ways because people weren’t sure what position, but he can really run, and he’s an outstanding athlete, so we’ll put him at quarterback to help him learn the system and go from there.

Rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports, who ranked him the No. 158 safety and the No. 55 player in the state of Alabama in his class … prepped at James Clemens High School in Madison, Ala. … a First Team All-Region 4 selection for Class 7A as a senior after recording 67 tackles, six tackles for a loss, two interceptions, seven pass breakups and three forced fumbles.

Rich Rodriguez on Marc Woods: Mark Woods is a big 6-4 safety from down there in Madison.Marc’s going to be a really good player.


Jax State signs 13

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