College football’s new early signing period for high school seniors couldn’t have come at a better time for UTSA coach Frank Wilson, who hasn’t had much reason to celebrate since he completed his second season with the Roadrunners last month.
After seeing his team left out in the cold on Selection Sunday and losing his defensive coordinator to Alabama last week, Wilson was ready to turn the page and talk about the future during a news conference Wednesday to announce UTSA’s early signing class.
The Roadrunners signed 19 players, including two from San Antonio – Wagner offensive lineman Spencer Burford (6-3, 290) and Brandeis defensive tackle Brandon Matterson (6-2, 300).
“We looked at Brandon and what he does at the high school level, and just was a dominant player as a defensive lineman, as an offensive lineman,” Wilson said. “He did phenomenal things.
“Spencer Burford is the most talented offensive lineman we’ve recruited during our tenure here. He has the ability that he could have played at any school that I’ve been at. We think he’s a jewel. He’s extremely talented and a physical specimen," Wilson said.
UTSA signed 10 offensive and eight defensive players, and one who could wind up playing on either side of the ball. Fifteen of the signees are high school seniors and four are junior college transfers.
Junior college players always have been allowed to sign early, but high school seniors had to wait until the first Wednesday in February each year to sign a letter of intent.
Players who sign in December are not required to enroll in school early, although some plan to start classes in January.
Recruits who don’t sign during this week’s three-day window still can make their commitment to a college official during college football’s traditional signing period, which runs from the first Wednesday in February to April 1.
UTSA still has four scholarships available, Wilson said, and will focus on signing a veteran quarterback. Dalton Sturm, the Roadrunners’ starting quarterback most of the past three seasons, completed his eligibility this year.
“We’re so youthful there,” Wilson said, referring to the quarterback position. “If I can get a transfer, a JC guy, something like that would be ideal. We still don’t have the maturity at that position group that you would want. If we took another one, it would probably be someone who is seasoned, that we thought could come in and compete early on for playing time, as we allow the development of our youth to take its place.”
Stevens graduate Bryce Rivers, who played sparingly as a freshman this season, and redshirt freshman Frank Harris, a former standout at Clemens, will be among the players competing for the starting job at quarterback.
The Roadrunners will announce its complete 2018 signing class on Wednesday, Feb. 7. But the bulk of the recruiting for this year already has been done.
“We had an obligation to do our part to solidify our class, so we made the most of it to the best of our ability,” Wilson said, referring to the early signing period.
UTSA did not receive a bowl invitation this season despite finishing 6-5. The Roadrunners were 5-2 with four games left in the regular season, but went 1-3 in November and didn’t get their sixth victory until their next-to-last game.
UTSA failed to score a touchdown in its last two games and ended the season with a 20-6 road loss to Louisiana Tech, which held the Roadrunners to a season-low 201 yards. Wilson fired offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo the next day.
Wilson led UTSA to its first bowl game last year in his first season with the Roadrunners. UTSA finished 6-7 after losing to New Mexico 23-20 in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
The Roadrunners started this season 3-0, but lost their two next games by a combined five points and went 3-5 in Conference USA, finishing fifth in the West Division. UTSA became bowl eligible with a 9-7 victory against Marshall, kicking a field goal with two seconds left.
One of the bright spots for the Roadrunners was their defensive unit, which was anchored by C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Davenport, an end who graduated from Stevens.
Led by defensive coordinator Pete Golding, UTSA finished the season eighth in scoring defense (17.0), second in first downs defense (166) and 19th in pass efficiency defense (112.19).
Golding was hired as a defensive assistant coach at Alabama last week.
Wilson was asked how difficult it was to prepare for the early signing period without having an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator on his staff.
“It is challenging,” Wilson said. “It was one of those things where it’s always concerning to parents when transition happens, especially at those positions. I think it’s imperative at that point to get into those homes and assure those parents and that prospect that the leadership of this program is intact, and the things that we’re going to do will be intact, and that the culture of our program is intact.”
2018 UTSA football signees (early signing period)
Trumane Bell, LB, 6-1, 230, Fr.-HS, Dallas (Lake Highlands HS)
Spencer Burford, OL, 6-3, 290, Fr.-HS, Wagner HS
Lorenzo Dantzler, DE, 6-2, 245, So.-TR, Starkville, Miss. (Starkville HS/East Mississippi CC)
Jalyn Galmore, OL, 6-5, 290, Jr.-TR, Batesville, Miss. (South Panola HS/Itawamba [Miss.] CC)
Zachary Gilson, DE, 6-4, 230, Fr.-HS, Sachse, Texas (Sachse HS)
Peter Gray, DE, 6-3, 235, Fr.-HS, Tupelo, Miss. (Tupelo HS)
Terrell Haynes, OL/DL, 6-3, 285, Fr.-HS, Arlington, Texas (Seguin HS)
Sheldon Jones, WR, 5-9, 165, Fr.-HS, New Orleans, La. (Warren Easton HS)
T.J. King, DE, 6-3, 245, Jr.-TR, Irving, Texas (MacArthur HS/Fort Scott [Kan.] CC)
Brandon Matterson, DT, 6-2, 300, Fr.-HS, Brandeis HS
Corey Mayfield Jr., CB, 5-11, 195, Fr.-HS, Forney, Texas (North Forney HS)
Andrew McGowan, WR, 6-3, 195, Fr.-HS, Sinton HS
Kevin Nelson, DT, 6-2, 285, Fr.-HS, Fort Worth (Arlington Heights HS)
Kelechi Nwachuku, S, 5-11, 190, Fr.-HS, McAllen (Memorial HS)
Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, WR, 6-4, 195, Fr.-HS, Alcoa, Tenn. (Alcoa HS)
Jarrett Preston, LB, 5-11, 205, Fr.-HS, Missouri City, Texas (Ridge Point HS)
Treyvion Shannon, OL, 6-5, 305, Jr.-TR, Clarksdale, Miss. (Clarksdale HS/Mississippi Gulf Coast CC)
La’thaniel Washington, WR, 6-1, 185, Fr.-HS, Del Valle (Del Valle HS)
Jordan Weeks, QB, 6-3, 220, Fr.-HS, Wimberley (Wimberley HS)