In their first Division 1 offseason, head coach Chris Willis and the Lions football team pulled in 10 new recruits for early signing day.
The Lions ended the season with a win against North Greenville. After the game, Willis immediately turned toward the offseason and the next year as he plans to reload the offense and defense.
“We have to build the offense,” Willis said. “This is a positive thing, going into recruiting with a winning record. It’s going to hurt us fighting the postseason ban though.”
For early signing day, Willis added five college transfers and five high school signees to the Lions team. He added six offensive players and four defensive players.
He started with two offensive lineman to help cement the pocket for upcoming senior quarterback Christian Lopez. Russ Green from Jasper High School and Ethan McMullan from East Mississippi Community College are both standing 6’3” and weighing over 260 pounds each.
He also adds four weapons for Lopez in running backs Jaxton Carson from Northwest Mississippi Community College and Ron Thompson from Pearl River Community College, while he brings in 6’0" receiver Parker Driggers from Brantley High School and Kenny Rawls, a 6’4" tight end from Battle Ground Academy.
The Lions defense held opponents to 24.3 points per game last season. If postseason eligible, the Lions defense would rank 35th in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
He added two defensive ends to stop up the gaps on the frontlines. 6’5”, 215 pound Tyler Antkowiak from Hewitt-Trussville and Devonte Toles from Jones Community College who stands at 6’3”, 225 pounds will help bring the points per game average down some this year.
To fill the hole of senior Safety Chris Johnson, Willis added Antkowiak’s teammate Creed Parker who is a 6’2”, 198 pound number six safety in the state. He also added Carson’s teammate out of Northwest Mississippi Community College, Linebacker Brandon Pierre who is 5’11”, 222 pounds.
Willis helped led the Lions to a 7-3 winning season and ended the season on a four-game win streak. As North Alabama moves into the Big South Conference, North Alabama hopes this early signing day will help adapt recruits to Willis’ play style.