Tennessee State University head football coach Rod Reed announced on Wednesday that 18 student-athletes signed their National Letter of Intent to join the football program in 2012.

Overall, TSU had five student-athletes enroll during the spring semester and are currently attending classes. Meanwhile, 13 others will join the program this summer.

The student-athletes are from five different states. The Tigers reached deep intro Florida this year, signing nine from the Sunshine State. TSU then inked two from Tennessee and Illinois, while adding one from Alabama and another from Georgia.

Four corner backs and linebackers were signed on the defensive side, while adding a linebacker to that group. On offense, the Big Blue added four linemen, three wide receivers and a quarterback.

“We are really excited about this signing class,” said Coach Reed after completing his third recruiting class. “The class we’ve got is one of the better classes we’ve had.”

The Tigers had three Nashville area signees with Maurice Box, Jr. (Gallatin High School), Anotino ‘Tre’ Haynes (Gallatin High School) and Darius Turner (McGavock High School).

“The only disappointing part is that we didn’t sign more local area kids,” noted Reed. “We targeted six or seven kids in the Nashville area, but a few of them decided to go to other Division I FCS programs or to smaller FBS schools.”

2012 Tennessee State University Football Signing Class

Willie Allen – WR
6-4, 190
Hales Franciscan HS (Chicago, Ill.)
A first team All-State and All-Conference wide receiver selection for Hales Franciscan High School out of Chicago…Played under Spartans head coach Randall Towensel…Rated a three star recruit from Scout.com and ranked the 135th best wideout prospect in the country…Earned a Tom Lemming Top 25 national prospect from MaxPreps.com…Has great size, strong hands and excellent speed…Lemming expects Allen to be a physical blocker and tough to bring down… Received several looks from Big 10 programs…Son of Denise Westbrook.

Greg Barksdale III – LB
6-2, 210
Northern Illinois/Crete Monee HS (University Park, Ill.)
Played in 15 games for Northern Illinois, primarily on the kickoff coverage squad…Recorded 12 total tackles, five solo, in two seasons…A three-year starter for Coach Jerry Verde at Crete-Monee, helped lead the Warriors to a 10-2 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs in 2009…An Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) 6A first team All-State honoree in 2009…Recorded 90 tackles, 65 solo, three sacks, two interceptions, caused two fumbles and recovered two fumbles at linebacker his senior year…2009 Chicago Tribune second team All-State selection and Chicago Sun-Times All-Area special mention… Son of Tony Sleming and Gregory Barksdale Jr.…Intends to major in criminal justice.

Maurice Box, Jr. – LB
6-2, 220
Gallatin HS (Gallatin, Tenn.)
Three year All-District selection at Gallatin High School…Played for Gallatin legendary Coach Robert Lassiter…Scouts rate Box as a tough and physical linebacker…Was the team leading rusher for the Green Wave, playing on both sides of the ball…Rivals.com mentioned Box as one of the top high school linebackers in the state of Tennessee…Participated in the Tennessee All-Star Classic…Interest from Murray State, Tennessee Tech, and Kentucky. Plans to major in Criminal Justice at TSU… Son of LaToya Holcomb.

Ronald Butler – QB
6-2, 185
Lincoln HS (Tallahassee, Fla).
Ranked as the 89th best quarterback by Scout.com…Had offers from Jacksonville State, UNLV and Southern Miss…Named team offensive MVP for Tallahassee’s Lincoln High School…Helped Coach Yusuf Shakir’s and the Trojans to a Class 4-A State Championship title in 2010…Threw 27 touchdowns and only five interceptions his senior season…Named All-Florida honorable mention for the 2011 season. Son of Ronald Butler and Daphne Williams.

Kilu Fontaine-Ellis – OL
6-4, 270
Tampa Bay Tech HS (Tampa, Fla.)
A catalyst in helping Coach Jayson Roberts and Tampa Bay Tech to an 8-4 record…Key part of offensive line for a rushing attack that averaged 215 yards per game as a senior…Played for the south squad in the Blue-Grey National All-Star Classic…Named FCAC All-District and All-Hillsborough County…Honored as the Most Valuable offensive linemen as a senior…2-star recruit by Rivals.com…Received the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award…Had offers from Bethune-Cookman, Eastern Illinois, Florida A&M, Jacksonville State and North Carolina Central…Interested in pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice…Son of Delores Ellis.

Ricky Foster, Jr. – WR
6-2, 180
Brighton HS (Brighton, Tenn.)
Three time All-District honoree in 13-AAA…Named All-Region and All-Shelby Metro in 2011…Earned the Harrison Simonton Football Scholarship in 2009…Set Brighton High School record with 52 receptions for 1,079 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011…Helped the Cardinals to a 9-2 record and an appearance in the second round of the TSSAA Class 6-A playoffs…Played for head coach Will Wolf…Offered by defending Sun Belt Champion Arkansas State, Murray State, and Central Arkansas…Son of Ricky and Gennette Foster…Numerous family members played collegiate athletics including cousin Willie Foster for Jackson State men’s basketball from 1981 to 1983.

Antonio ‘Tre’ Haynes – OL
6-4, 350
Gallatin HS (Gallatin, Tenn.)
Played for Coach Robert Lassiter and helped Gallatin High to a 10-2 mark…A two-way player as an offensive lineman and defensive tackle…Recorded 44 tackles as a senior…Considered as one of the Mid-States top offensive linemen…Offered by Alcorn State, Texas Southern and Tennessee Tech…Drew interest from Auburn and Tennessee.

Marquaveus Jackson – DE
6-4, 250
Merced Community College (CA)/Seabereeze High School (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
Garnered first team All-Gate Conference honors at Merced Community College under head coach Bob Casey…Second on the team with 53 tackles and led Merced with 17.0 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks…Also recorded two blocks and two forced fumbles in 10 games…Considered one of the top defensive linemen in the junior college ranks…Played high school football at Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Fla…Had offers from Middle Tennessee, Nevada and Texas State…Son of Alberta and Christopher Wilson.

Chris James – CB
6-2, 195
Atlanta Sports Academy/Dunbar HS (Fort Myers, Fla.)
Made 15 solo tackles and seven assisted tackles in ten games at Atlanta Sports Academy…Had four breakups, two interceptions and one fumble recovery in lone season at ASA…Selected as MVP a senior for Dunbar High and Coach Phil Vogt…Notched 28 solo tackles with 26 assisted tackles over ten games in final season…Had seven tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one interception…Plans to seek a career in Business Management…Son of Chris James.

Joe Johnson – FS
5-11, 200
Marshall/ New Smyrna Beach HS (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.)
Red-shirted as a freshman at Marshall…A standout performer for Coach Rocky Yocam at New Smyrna Beach High School…Credited with 85 tackles, six interceptions and 19 pass break-ups during his senior season…Rated as one of the top safety prospects in the country by several recruiting services…Rated three stars by Rivals…Offered by South Florida, Western Michigan and TSU in 2010…Son of Rosa Johnson…Lists his late father, Julius Johnson, as his biggest role model.

Antonio Justice – LB
6-1, 212
St. Jude Educational Institute (Montgomery, Ala.)
Helped St. Jude to an 8-2 record as a senior…Averaged 16.4 tackles per game and recorded six sacks…A two-time selection to the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State team…Named as a Max Preps Player of the Week on 10-2-11…Garnered the rating of a 2-star recruit…Offered by Arkansas State, UAB, Alabama St. and Troy.

Lavatiae Kelly – WR
6-1, 175
McArthur HS (Hollywood, Fla.)
Led the McArthur Mustangs with 72 receptions for 1,458 yards, an average of 20.25 yards per catch…Notched 15 touchdowns in 10 games…According to MaxPreps.com, ranked 13th nationally and the first in the Sunshine state among high school wide receivers in yards per game (145.8)…Named first team All-State for the Class 7A . Rivals.com and Scout.com both noted Kelly as one of the most underrated wide receivers in the state of Florida…Offered by Akron.

Kevin Kenton – OL
6-3, 275
Palm Beach Lakes HS (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
An All-Star Team selection for Coach Alonzo Jefferson…Registered 35 Pancakes while playing center and left tackle…Had three sacks and 52 tackles as a defensive tackle…Recorded five tackles in Senior All-Star game…Qualified for regionals in the discuss as a junior…Son of Sephlin Kenton and Sylvester Kenton…Plans on majoring in Civil Engineering…Recruited by Marshall, Bethune-Cookman and FIU.

Jeremy Manning – CB
6-1, 190
Bartow HS (Bartow, Fla.)
Versatile athlete from Bartow High School…Played for Yellow Jackets head coach Brett Biggs…Earned All-Florida Athletic Coaches Association first team and All-Polk County honors… Collected 59 tackles, picking up six interceptions, forcing three fumbles and picking up two recoveries…Caught 13 passes for 190 yards with one reception touchdown…Son of Laurie and Jeremiah Manning…Brother Jeremiah ‘Joey’ Manning played four seasons (2007-2010) of baseball at Vanderbilt University under head coach Tim Corbin.

Jarvis Mott – LB
5-11, 225
Mainland HS (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
Earned first team All-State for Class 6-A at Mainland High School…First team All-Area selection in 2010 and 2011…Led Daytona Beach area with an astounding 182 tackles…Had 21.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks during his senior campaign…Part of a defense that allowed 161 yards per game in 2011. Offered by UT-Chattanooga and Murray State.

Demetrius Rhaney – OL
6-3, 300
Ellsworth CC/ Stranahan HS (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
Competed two seasons for Coach Mike Virden at Ellsworth CC and was named All-Region as a freshman…Ranked as the No. 9 offensive guard in the country by 247Sports…Named to the Midwest Football All-Conference team as a sophomore…Garnered interest from several schools including Minnesota, USF and Kansas. Offered by Delaware State, Alabama State, Texas Southern, Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green. Played for Joe Redmond at Stranahan High…Won the shot put event at the Florida High School 3A District 15 championships…Son of Ronnie Rhaney.

Darius Turner – CB
6-2, 200
Arkansas State/McGavock HS (Nashville, Tenn.)
Signed 2011 NLI with Arkansas State, but did not appear in any games…Four-year varsity letterman who holds McGavock’s school record for all-purpose yards…Competed in the 2010 Tennessee East vs. West All-Star game…All-Metro and all-Conference choice as a senior…Helped lead McGavock to the state playoffs in 2009…2-star recruit by Rivals.com…Competed in track and field and baseball as well…Also offered by Middle Tennessee, Kansas, Western Kentucky and Memphis…Son of Carmen and Wendell Turner.

Montrell Wood – OL
6-7, 325
Academy of Richmond County HS (Augusta, Ga.)
Played for Coach Chris Hughes at Academy of Richmond County…Selected to play in the Georgia Senior Bowl…Named to the Honor Roll…Son of Amanda Hudson and Elliott Wood…Intends to study in the field of Physical Therapy.


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