COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UTPB signs solid class in unusual year

UTPB football coach Justin Carrigan acknowledged that the 2021 signing class for his program would be unique due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the circumstances, Carrigan said that the class signing to play for the Falcons was bigger than he and his coaching staff had anticipated. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, the Falcons had announced the signing of 39 players, not including transfers.

During a virtual press conference, Carrigan spoke highly of the talent coming in and everything else that went into producing the class.

“It’s a tremendous class with a lot of great talent,” Carrigan said. “I think where we’re at as far as the new facility helped. And where we’re at with the program in terms of leadership with Dr. Woodley and now Todd Dooley has helped springboard us into this recruiting season.”

Among the key areas that the Falcons focused on was on the defensive side of the ball. UTPB signed eight linebackers coming out of high school and added former Fort Stockton standout Cole Daggett who started his playing career at Texas Tech.

“Linebacker was a big one primarily because there are just so many unknowns with the games,” Carrigan said. “We haven’t played a game since Chris Hoad and Keegan Gray departed the program. Some of those guys will be edge guys and others playing safety in those type of roles but we really needed to invest in that position.”

Carrigan also added that the Falcons were able to get help on the defensive line as well as bring in some talent that had Division I offers or playing experience.

Defensive back Nygel King arrives after playing the last three seasons at Utah. Carrigan also mentioned running back Kevin Young and defensive lineman Vernon Henderson as other standouts that had Division I offers coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The Falcons also added a trio of local signees with Andrews wide receiver Markeese Lawrence and Midland Lee teammates Shemar Davis and quarterback Mikey Serrano.

On top of that, former Lee offensive lineman Eric Cisneros arrives after spending last season at Texas State. Being able to keep top talent home is something that Carrigan wants to continue.

“I think that’s really important to work on trying to keep that local talent right here in our backyard and give them that opportunity to continue to play in front of their fans,” Carrigan said. “I think this is the first time where we’ve had to battle so many teams across the state.

“Being able to win those battles I think is a huge feather in the cap of the program. I think it’s a sign of things to come.”

Looking long-term, the Falcons will have to make adjustments following its four-game spring slate.

Carrigan said that having that additional depth will be helpful down the line given how the scholarship situation will have to be sorted out due to current players not losing a year of eligibility.

He also added that there may be a couple of additions before the spring is over and as for how to manage the roster moving forward, Carrigan believes that things will ultimately work itself out.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we overextended ourselves,” he said. “We couldn’t really wait and see how things will unfold next fall because at that point, it’s too late.

“We have some super seniors and some juniors that are going to graduate and as we get closer to that time, we’ll have those conversations. I think a lot of those things are going to work themselves out.”

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