|UPDATE 15 - SIGNING DAY - Niners Sign 25th|
Will Thomas, a speedy receiver from Hampstead, N.C. (Topsail H.S.) wanted to be the first 49er. Able to sign at 7:00 a.m., he did so immediately and his 7:02 time-stamped fax gave the 49ers their first NCAA football player.
Thomas was followed quickly by Maiden High QB Matt Johnson out of Newton, N.C.
"This is just a huge day for our program and our university and to see first two come across -- it's really exciting," said head coach Brad Lambert. "It's kind of neat that it was a receiver and quarterback -- I guess we're ready to score some points. The thing is -- it just makes it real. We've got a team now. The players are coming in."
Following the signing of Thomas, Johnson, the 49ers have added tight end Justin Bolus, linebackers Terry Caldwell, Mark Pettit, wideout Jamel Ross and all-state defender Mason Sledge. Four more signed afterwards -- including Larry Ogunjobi, who gave the 49ers a team of 11.
Through the next hours, more signings rolled into the offices, including three-star defensive tackle Casey Perry and most recently Porter Ridge High QB Lee McNeil to bring the 49ers first day of results to 24 signees. The 49ers added their 25th signee: Alan Barnwell, on Thursday.
"This first class is very important to the overall landscape of this program and University," Lambert added. "It is filled with great student-athletes, but more importantly great young men that will represent Charlotte for years to come."
INFO:Brandon Banks Southwest Guilford High School High Point, N.C. 6'3" 230
A standout defensive end and outside linebacker for Coach Scott Schwarzer at Southwest Guilford, Banks was named the 2011 Piedmont Triad 4A Defensive Player of the Year. A two-time Piedmont Triad 4A all-Conference performer, he led Southwest Guilford in tackles three seasons, with nearly 60 tackles as a senior and over 70 as a junior.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Brandon was a Defensive Player of the Year as a defensive lineman, which is pretty impressive. He is a big physical defensive lineman that was very productive in high school."
Alan Barnwell Cummings High School Burlington, N.C. 5'10" 175
Was the first player to verbally commit to the 49ers program. Named the Mid-State 2A all-Conference Offensive Player of the Year and was an all-conference choice for the Cavaliers. Rushed for over 1700 yards and 25 TD's as a senior and over 600 yards and 13 touchdowns for coach Steve Johnson as a junior, while adding over 200 receiving yards.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Alan is a very physical running back that has the ability to be a homerun every time he touches the ball."
Jarred Barr Sun Valley High School, Indian Trail N.C. 6'3" 285
Offensive lineman who played in the 2011 Shrine Bowl. His Sun Valley Spartans team was a 2009 Co-Conference Champ, making the 2nd Round of the State Playoffs in 2010, advancing to the third round in the 2011 season. He played on the varsity squad for three seasons, earning All-Conference and All-County in 2010 and 2011. He was Sun Valley's Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2011. He is also a four-year member of Sun Valley's All-Academic Team.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Jared was a standout offensive lineman at Sun Valley High School. He has the ability to play many different roles in the offensive front, and was a 2011 participant in the Shrine Bowl."
Justin Bolus James Island High School Folly Beach, S.C. 6'2" 205
A 2011 Shrine Bowl participant, Bolus was a three-year letterman in football and basketball, a four-year track letterman and played baseball one season. As a senior he missed six games with an injury, but rushed for over 800 yards, 8 touchdowns and threw for 360 yards, 4 touchdowns for the Randy Hillyer-coached James Island High Trojans. As a free safety in his junior year, he made 88 tackles with four interceptions. He rushed for over 500 yards, 5 touchdowns while adding 300 receiving yards, 3 touchdown catches. He was named all-Region and All-Low Country. A member of the National Honor Society, Bolus was a Junior Marshal for posting a Top 10 GPA.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Justin fits perfectly wherever you put him. He has the ability to play any position on the field and excel at it."Terry Caldwell John T. Hoggard High School Wilmington, N.C. 6'2" 208
A solid linebacker and team captain for coach Scott Braswell, he led the Hoggard High Vikings as the All-Area Defensive Player of the Year. Helped the Vikings win six straight on their way to a 7-5 record with 101 tackles as a senior, 13 of which went for a loss. He also forced three fumbles and had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Terry is a big kid that plays sideline to sideline, and has the ability to help us out at either inside or outside linebacker."
Jaquil Capel West Montgomery High School Mt. Gilead, N.C. 5'11" 175
An all-conference quarterback for the West Montgomery Warriors, Jaquil led his team to a 2011 state runner-up finish. Named team MVP for Coach Nick Eddins, he also led the Warriors to the Western Regional 1AA Championship as a sophomore. A four year starter, he has been considered one of the most dynamic players in the state, finishing his high school career with over 100 touchdowns, rushing for 78 and passing for 35. He was responsible for over 8,582 total yards with WMHS.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Jaquil is a dynamic player. He has the ability to break a game wide open. He's going to be a fun one to watch over the next couple of years."
Jamal Covington Lovejoy High School Fayetteville, Ga. 6'3" 270
A Georgia AAAA all-state offensive lineman, Covington was a two-time first team all-Region and first team all-Southern Crescent for head coach Al Hughes. Led the Wildcats to a 14-1 record and the Region 4-AAAA title and a state AAAA runner-up finish. Named the Offensive Lineman of the Year for Lovejoy, he recorded 143 pancake blocks. Was selected to compete in the Alumni of the Rising Seniors All-Star Game (Georgia Junior Bowl). An A-B Honor Roll student, he is a member of the National Honor Society.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Jamal brings a personality that can fill up any room, and to top it off, he is a really athletic offensive lineman."
Greg Cunningham Jr. West Charlotte High School Charlotte, N.C. 6'1" 175
A leading tackler for West Charlotte High, Cunningham had 102 tackles for head coach Marcus Surratt as a senior. Added three fumble recoveries. Had 32 tackles as a junior with 3 interceptions. A track athlete who qualified for the state indoor track championships in the 55 m and the 55 m hurdles.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Greg is long and fast. Standing at 6'2", he is a very athletic defensive back that can be a press corner or a run stopping safety."
Austin Duke Independence High School Charlotte, N.C. 5'8" 155A local product out of Charlotte's Independence H.S., Duke was a 2011 Shrine Bowl participant who caught 54 passes for 1200 yards. He had 20 touchdowns to be named all-conference and all-Charlotte Observer. The Southwestern 4A Offensive Player of the Year, Duke led the Patriots and coach Bill Gieler to a 10-3 record.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Austin is another guy that we think can stretch the field. He has a ton of personality, and will definitely be fun to watch on Saturdays."
Kariym Gent Ayden-Grifton High School Grifton, N.C. 5'11" 185
Kariym helped lead Head Coach Paul Cornwell's Ayden-Grifton Chargers to a 13-2 record, a conference and regional title and the 1AA state championship game for the state runner-up. He was named the 2010 1A first-team All-State Kick Returner/Punt returner. He was an All-Free Press Second Team athlete and an all-conference choice. He rushed for over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Not only is Kariym a physically dominant football player, he is a very intelligent and versatile player that will add to the defensive secondary."Jalen Holt South Stanly High School Norwood, N.C. 6'4" 225
Played for Coach Luke Little and the South Stanly High School Bulls. He was named an All-State Quarterback and the conference Offensive Player of the Year. A two-time All-County QB, Holt was also an All-Conference safety and defensive end.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Jalen is a very long and athletic player. He has the ability to play on both sides of the ball, but will start as a linebacker for us. He, like the rest of these guys, is going to be great to have around the program."
Matt Johnson Maiden High School Newton, N.C. 6'2" 215
The 65th ranked prospect in North Carolina, according to ESPN.com, Johnson is a two-time Catawba Valley Athletic Conference (CVAC) Offensive Player of the Year. A four-year varsity player, Johnson totalled 35 touchdowns as a junior and 32 as a senior. As a junior, Johnson rushed for over 1,000 yards and passed for over 1,500 to lead Maiden to an 8-4 record and finished his career with approximately 3000 yards rushing and 4000 yards passing with over 70 total touchdowns. In 2011, the Blue Devils, under head coach Brian Brown went 9-4 as Johnson passed for over 1000 yards. He was named the 2010 Maiden High Student-athlete of the Year and was the North Carolina State Beta Club President as a senior.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Matt has the ability to step into a room and immediately become the center of attention, a leader. That's a great quality to have in a quarterback."
Thomas La Bianca Porter Ridge High School Indian Trail, N.C. 6'3" 280
A first-team All-Region choice, La Bianca starred for the 2011 State Runner-Up Porter Ridge Pirates under Coach Blair Hardin. The Pirates posted back-to-back 14-1 campaigns in his junior and senior seasons, winning the regional championship in his senior year and finishing as regional runner-up in his junior campaign. A two-time All-Conference choice, La Bianca was a first team All-County and a first team All-Charlotte Observer selection as an offensive lineman in 2011.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Thomas is a physically dominant player on the field, but he is an absolute great kid off of it."
Rick Legrant Buford High School Buford, Ga. 6'0" 215
A two-time all-state defensive end, LeGrant helped the four-time state champion Buford (Ga.) High Wolves to a 14-1 record as a senior. Under Head Coach Jess Simpson, the Wolves won four Region titles, as well as a 2011 State Championship appearance. LeGrant pulled a couple All-County 1st Team honors as well.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Rick is a very physical player that has great speed as well. He is another sideline to sideline linebacker that has a throwback feel to his style of play."
Lee McNeil Porter Ridge High School Indian Trail, N.C. 6'2" 180
Quarterback for the Porter Ridge State runner-up team under Head Coach Blair Hardin. Lee helped the Pirates to back-to-back 14-1 campaigns in his last two years. Posted a 35-6 record as a starting quarterback over three seasons, leading Porter Ridge to three straight Southern Carolina Conference championships. Reached the 2010 and 2011 Western Regional Finals, winning the title in 2011. Lee passed for over 5900 yards and 69 touchdowns in his career, including 2300 yards with 24 touchdowns as a senior, and nearly 2500 yards and 36 touchdowns as a junior. Was named the Southern Carolina Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a first team All-County choice as a senior. Was an All-Southern Carolina Conference choice and an all-county selection as a junior. Member of the National Honor Society.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Lee, a dual-threat quarterback, helped lead Porter Ridge High School to a state championship appearance this fall. He is another great kid to have in our program."
James Middleton Timberland High School Pineville, S.C. 6'4" 240An all-Region choice for coach Art Craig, Middleton was selected for the North-South game and was named first team all-Low Country. In four seasons, helped Timbeland High Wolves to a 51-4 record, including one state championship and four regional championships.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "James is another big athletic defensive lineman that fits the mold of trying to build this class from the inside out. He is going to add to a class of great defensive lineman."
Karsten Miller North Davidson High School Lexington, N.C. 6'3" 195Missed his senior season with injury but threw for over 1800 yards and 16 touchdowns as the CPC Offensive Player of the Year as a junior. He produced 23 touchdowns to lead the Black Knights to a 9-3 record and a berth in the state playoffs for coach Mark Holcomb at North Davidson H.S. Earned all conference and all Davidson County honors, as well.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Karsten is another big athletic dual-threat quarterback that will have a chance to really help our program."
Tank Norman Richlands High School Jacksonville, N.C. 5'11" 180
Played for Coach Mike Natoli at Richlands. Helped the Wildcats to an 8-4 record and a 2nd-place finish in the ECC as a junior. Team went 3-7 in his senior year as Norman battled injuries. Rushed for 1257 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior while passing for 799 yards and 10 TD's. Added 975 yards passing and 8 touchdowns with 689 yard rushing and 10 TD's while seeing less action due to injuries. Full name is Dwain Norman.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Tank is another three sport athlete, excelling at basketball, baseball and football. He will join an already dynamic defensive backfield."
Larry Ogunjobi Ragsdale High School Greensboro, N.C. 6'3" 253
Named to the first team All-Conference defense as a junior and senior, Ogunjobi helped the Tommy Norwood coached Ragsale High Tigers to back-to-back conference championships. The Tigers went 9-3 in 2011, earning a share of the Piedmont-Triad 4A title and 10-3 in 2010. Ogunjobi was the team's Most Improved Player in 2009 before earning back-to-back first team All-Conference honors. He was a first team All-Area selection as a senior after recording double-digit sacks and nearly 60 tackles. He is an A/B Honor roll student.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Larry is a hard working kid that we think is going to be an anchor for us at Nose Guard. Although a big guy, he plays with a great motor, constantly chasing down ball carriers."Kendal Parker Lakeside High School Lake Park, Ga. 6'1" 215
A four-year high school letterwinner who playedtwo years in Jacksonville, Fla. (Bartram Trail and Creekside) before moving to Lakeside Evans in Evans, Ga. Was a first team al region 2AAA and an honorable mention all-state selection in Georgia as a junior, with 126 tackles with 45 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Led Jarrett Trexler-coached Lakeside Evans to the Region 2 AAAA Championshipship with a 10-3 record. Was a first team all-district and all-area choice at Creekside H.S. as a sophomoe with 81 tackles and 3 fumble recoveries. His father Carl, played two seasons as a wide reviever with the Cincinnati Bengals (1988-89). His brother Kyle played both football and baseball at Clemson and is currently in the Colorado Rockies organization.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Kendal is a young man that has worked really hard to become the player he is today. He will add great personality and attitude to an already good looking linebacker core."
Casey Perry Hillside High School Durham, N.C. 6'3" 285
Perry is an all-Area choice and the PAC 6 Lineman of the Year for Hillside's State Championship team. As a junior lineman who was ranked 167th in ESPN's national rankings. Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Perry is a four-year varsity player who helped Antonio King-coached Hillside to a perfect 16-0 season and the PAC 6 and NCHSAA 4A State championship titles as a junior. A three-time All-Conference choice, Perry helped Hillside to a 48-8-1 record in his career. The Hornets won the conference championship in his freshman year and Perry earned All-County honorable mention as a sophomore.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Casey continues the trend with bringing size to the program. He is another very athletic kid that also brings a ton of personality to the group."Mark Pettit Western Guilford High School Greensboro, N.C. 6'6" 239
Pettit was a two-time all-Greensboro Metro 4A conference choice for head coach ChCausey and the Western Guilford Hornets. He earned all-Area honorable mention and was named the Hornets' Defensive Player of the Year.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Mark is another long athlete that has the ability to play many different positions. He has a great passion for football."
Jamel Ross Panther Creek High school Cary, N.C. 6'3" 215
Helped Coach Wayne Bragg and the Panther Creek Catamounts to an 8-4 record as a senior. Had 50 receptions as a senior for 459 yards and 7 touchdowns while playing in his first year of football. Earned Tri-Nine Conference honorable mention and also was a Tri-Nine conference All-Academic selection. Lettered three years in basketball as well.
Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Brad Lambert: "Jamel is a big receiver that will cause many problems for defensive backs. With only a year of football experience in high school, he has an enormous upside, and we are really excited about it."
Mason Sledge Monroe High School Monroe, N.C. 6'4" 250
The 2011 Rocky River Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Sledge earned 1A all-state honors. He led Johnny Sowell-coached Monroe H.S. Redhawks to an 8-4 record and the Rocky River Conference title. Reached the third round of the playoffs for the second straight year. A two-time all-Rocky River choice he was a two-time all-county selection and made 2nd-team all-Region as a senior. Owns a 3.8 GPA.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: ""Mason's last name fits him. He is a hard working, blue collar type of player that will be a force in the trenches."
Will Thomas Topsail Senior High School Hampstead, N.C. 6'0" 170
An all-conference and all-Area selection who was also the state track and field high jump champion (6'9). Helped Bryan Davis-coached Topsail High to an 8-4 record and the Pender County title. Averaged 15.5 yards per catch as a wideout who saw time at quarterback and running back, producing over 600 total yards. Was a defensive back on the opposite side of the ball for the Pirates. Named ECC Track and Field Player of the Year.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert: "Will was a successful multi-sport athlete at Topsail High School, excelling in football, basketball and track. Speed kills, so we're glad he is on our side."
Charlotte 49ers head football coach Brad Lambert and his staff will host the 49ers first annual National Signing Day Reception Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. in the Barnhardt Student Activity Center Salons.
Part of this year's Chalk talk Series, the cost for the reception is $20 and includes dinner, drinks, and the Signing Day program.
Call 704.687.4950 for more information and click here to register.