CHATTANOOGA (UTC) -- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head football coach Russ Huesman announced the Mocs' 2012 Signing Class on Wednesday.
Chattanooga inked 15 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent from a recruiting base that included 10 prospects from Georgia, four from Tennessee and one from Alabama.
"This was a good mix," stated Huesman at his signing day press conference. "I think we probably got all of our needs and hit it about where we thought we would. It is a good class and I am proud of it.
"Our guys did a great job of recruiting and we think we got some players in this thing."
UTC signed a pair of local players in Calhoun, Ga., linebacker Alex Kirby (6-0, 210) and Red Bank defensive end Keionta Davis (6-4, 230). Both were members of the Chattanooga Times Free Press Dynamite Dozen heading into the season.
Kirby went on the lead Calhoun High School to the Georgia 2A state title and earn state defensive player of the year honors. He said he was quickly swayed by the youth and energy around the Mocs' up-and-coming program, and was impressed by how easy it was to talk to UTC coaches.
"We think Alex is a great get for us. He's an excellent football player," Huesman said of Kirby. "He committed to us a long time ago, and I'm not sure if people backed off, but he wasn't heavily recruited.
"But no one wanted Gunner Miller three years ago, and he's bee great for us. We think Alex can play in a similar mold."
Davis had his senior season at Red Bank High School end due to a knee injury and slipped under the radar on the recruiting circuit. He got emotional while signing his scholarship papers at school Wednesday morning.
"Those are hard decisions to make when guys don't play their senior seasons, and that obviously hurt him," Huesman said of Davis. "But if you've seen him in person, he is legit. We brought him in and kept comparing him to Davis Tull, who walked-on here after a senior-year injury and will be an all-american before he leaves.
"If you ever thought you'd have a sleeper that no one else would take a chance on, he's the guy. I'm glad he's excited about Chattanooga. That makes me feel even better about it."
Other Tennesseans on the list include all-state receivers C.J. Board (6-2, 175) from West Creek High School in Clarksville, Tenn., Al Thompson (6-2, 184) from Nashville's Brentwood Academy and Maryville tight end Kevin Niethammer (6-3, 210).
Board made the Nashville Tennessean Dream Team as a junior and Thompson is a three-star prospect who originally committed to Arizona State. Niethammer was a starter for Maryville's two time 6A state champions.
There were two offensive linemen out of Georgia to sign, including Buford's Robert Hill (6-2, 280) and Dacula's Corey Levin (6-5, 250). Hill started on Buford's 2A state championship team in 2010 while Levin was a team captain at Dacula High School.
There are four defensive backs from Georgia in the class, led by all-state selections Will Johnson (5-11, 185), and Javoris ‘Dee' Virgin. Johnson led Chattahoochee High School to the state championship as a junior while Virgin totaled 49 tackles and five interceptions at Seminole County High School.
The two other defensive backs include Nakevion Leslie (5-11, 205) and Cedric Nettles (6-0, 180). Leslie led Hillgrove High School to an undefeated regular season while Nettles was an all-region pick from Jonesboro High School.
Banneker High School's Tray James (6-4, 185), another Georgia product, adds to the Mocs' depth at receiver. He missed four games his senior season due to a high ankle sprain, but was an all-region performer as a junior. Running back Tolerance Shepherd (5-10, 180) could also see time at receiver. He was a versatile back from Fitzgerald High School.
All-state defensive lineman Vantrell McMillan closes out the Georgia products. He finished his senior year with 76 tackles, 11 TFLs and 10 sacks at Monroe High School.
The lone product from Alabama is already enrolled at UTC and taking part in the Mocs' winter conditioning program. D'Eddric Williams made the Alabama 6A All-State team as a senior at Hillcrest High School. He is the second Moc to enroll early, joining Shaun Hill who did the same last year.
All totaled, Chattanooga signed seven offensive players and eight on the defensive side of the ball. UTC looks to continue is tradition of success in the classroom as well as on the field with eight of the signees having academic honors on their resumes. There are eight all-state players in this bunch and four state champions.
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.