ABILENE – Abilene Christian added 15 high school athletes and announced seven mid-year transfers to the football team on National Signing Day on Wednesday.
The transfer class includes defensive lineman Syncere Massey from Texas Tech, running backs Javion Hunt from Arkansas and Jay’Veon Sunday from Washington, wide receivers Jacoby Boykins from Alabama and Marcayll Jones from Memphis, defensive back Jordan Mukes from Oklahoma and offensive lineman Carson Walker from Houston.
“I think we were able to fill our immediate needs with seven transfers who will be impact players,” said ACU Head Coach Keith Patterson. “I’m excited to see what those guys can do.”
Signing on Wednesday were offensive linemen Ford Ivey, Jamie Johnson and Colter Lynch, tight ends Elijah Sims and Gavin Waits, wide receivers Cedric Harden and Louis Williams, quarterback DeAngelo Ponder, defensive linemen Chris Herpin and Erin Smith, linebackers Bryce Morton and Scott Koumado, defensive backs Jalen O’Neal and Tyson Williams and kicker Thomas Barr.
Early signing period additions included defensive linemen Jerry Lawson and Luke Gambs, linebacker Bryce Woody and defensive back Jameer Dudley.
“Hats off to our coaches,” Patterson said. “I appreciate the hard work they’ve done. They’ve raised the talent level on both sides of the ball.”
“We had the privilege to recruit a lot of quality young men over the course of the last 12 months to become student-athletes at ACU,” said Offensive Line Coach Ryan Pugh. “Following a successful first year in Abilene, we set out to add several pieces to our offense that would allow us to build upon the foundation of our returning team. We did just that! Our staff is eager to get to work with the five mid-year enrollees we added in January this spring and cannot wait for our seven high school signees to arrive in June. We were able to add quality depth to an offense that returns a lot of firepower and feel we were able to replace the production we had graduated from our previous season. In all, we were able to address our needs in a big way this signing period on offense and have high expectations for what these young men will accomplish in their Wildcat careers!”
Ponder, a 6-2, 185-pound quarterback from Arlington Bowie, earned first-team All-District 8-6A and Academic All-State.
“While returning two quarterbacks who saw time as starters for us this past season, we were able to add De’Angelo Ponder from Bowie High School in Arlington,” Pugh said. “We are very excited to add him to our quarterback room with his athletic skill set combined with his great leadership ability. We feel the sky is the limit as he continues to grow and mature as a quarterback within our offense.”
“We set out to add to a stable of running backs who were able to accomplish quite a bit this previous season,” said Pugh. “Being able to add both Javion Hunt and Jay’Veon Sunday to our offense will allow us to be very explosive. Both young men have great character, athletic ability and mindset we are looking for in our running back room. Each one has a unique skill set we think can add value in a dynamic way to our offense. We look forward to seeing how both can be productive this spring as we continue to develop the entire running back room.”
Hunt, a 6-0, 205-pound running back from Midwest City-Carl Albert, transfers from Arkansas where he had four carries for 19 yards. He was a three-star recruit, the No. 36 running back and the No. 9 recruit out of Oklahoma in 2021.
Sunday, a 6-0, 201-pound running back from Waco Connally, transfers from Washington, where he had one carry for 19 yards last season. He ended his high school career with both the career and single-season records for yards and touchdowns at Connally with more than 5000 yards and 80 touchdowns. He had more than 2000 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior. Rivals had him as the No. 37 running back in the country.
Boykins a 6-1, 200-pound wide receiver from Houston Lamar, transfers from Alabama, where he was a walk-on. He was a 2020 honorable mention All-District selection.
Jones, a 5-9, 178-pound wide receiver from Warner Robbins (Ga.), transfers from Memphis. He was an All-State wide receiver and set the GHSA single-season receiving yardage record. He led the Demons to three State appearances.
Harden, a 6-2, 185-pound wide receiver from Desoto, was an All-District receiver that led DHS to a State title.
Louis Williams, a 6-0, 160-pound wide receiver from Conroe, led his district in receiving three seasons.
“After losing quite a bit of production from the receiver position this past season, we felt the need to bring both depth and experience to a promising group of receivers,” Pugh said. “With the addition of four tremendous playmakers in Jacoby Boykins, Marcayll Jones, Cedric Harden, Jr. and Louis Williams, III we couldn’t be more excited to see this position group perform this spring and fall! This group of signees will bring a dynamic and explosive element to our offense that we felt needed to be addressed. While the group is relatively young, we feel confident in each one’s ability to come in and make great contributions this fall.”
Sims, a 6-3, 238-pound tight end from Fort Bend Marshall, earned second-team All-District 9-5A Division II.
Waits, a 6-4, 235-pound tight end from Fulshear High School, earned honorable mention All-State honors and led 10-5A D1 in tight end receiving yards. He is a two-time All-District selection.
“The tight end position might have the most depth and experience on our offense,” said Pugh. “We are very excited about Elijah Sims and Gavin Waits and their room for growth within this position group. Elijah will bring a combination of size and speed we were looking for in a tight end with this class. His overall athletic ability is what jumped off his film the most as he continues to learn and develop at the tight end position!”
Walker, a 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman from Midlothian Heritage, transfers from Houston. He was a three-star prospect and rated as the nation’s No. 58 offensive guard and the No. 175 player in Texas overall. He was Class 4A Division 1 District 5 Offensive Lineman MVP and made the Academic All-District team.
Ivey, a 6-3, 270-pound offensive lineman from Willis, earned first-team All-District 13-6A.
Johnson, a 6-6, 295-pound offensive lineman from San Antonio-Sam Houston, earned first-team All-District and was selected for the San Antonio Sports All-Star Football Game.
Lynch, a 6-4, 280-pound offensive lineman from Lubbock Cooper, was a first-team All-District 2-5A Division I guard.
“This group of signees along the offensive line have a chance to be a very special group,” said Pugh. “Being able to add four young men to a group of older experienced linemen will allow us to continue their development throughout the year. Carson Walker, Colter Lynch, Jamie Johnson and Ford Ivey each are unique in their skill sets and where they are at in their careers as offensive linemen. The one consistent trait they all possess is a great overall athletic ability. We were looking to add four versatile offensive linemen and we feel great about what this group adds to our team! Each one has at some point played multiple positions in their young careers and we look to build upon a great foundation each one has.”
Barr, a 6-0, 150-pound All-State kicker from China Spring, kicked the game-winning field goal for China Springs in the 4A Championship game last December. It was his second last-second game-winner of the season. He also finished off a District title as time expired.
“The class as a whole we are extremely excited about,” said ACU Defensive Coordinator Skyler Cassity. “We felt like we went out and were able to find needs that we wanted at all levels of the defense. One thing about this class is you will see lots of length and athleticism in this class. We were able to bring in a bunch of great football players and great people that truly exemplify what this program stands for in Character, Discipline, and Toughness.”
“Syncere Massey is a transfer to us from Texas Tech,” said Cassity. “He is an extremely large presence for the interior of our DL. He is extremely athletic for his 6-5, 325-pound body. We look forward to him being a physical presence for us. Chris Herpin is a big, strong 300-pound athletic kid that has a huge upside He understands how to play with leverage and dominate inside. He will be a state finalist in the shot put. Luke Gambs
is another very physical long defensive end coming to us from a great program. He has shown he can dominate against great competition and has the skill set to play multiple positions. Jerry Lawson is a very big athlete who played both sides of the ball in high school. He is a 255-pound defensive end /running back with natural, powerful instincts. Erin Smith also is a large, powerful and athletic DL that is already 280 pounds and has a major upside to him. He is extremely athletic for his size. Has the ability to play multiple positions on the DL.”
Massey, a 6-5, 325-pound defensive lineman from Cedar Hill, transfers from Texas Tech. In high school, Massey was ranked the No. 74 prospect in the state by Rivals. He garnered first-team all-District 11-6A honors in 2020 and was credited with 49 tackles and 10 sacks while aiding Cedar Hill to a state runner-up finish in Class 6A Division II.
Herpin, a 6-2, 300-pound defensive lineman from Pearland Dawson, earned Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-District 23-6A as a nose tackle and qualified for State in the discus.
Gambs, a 6-3, 235-pound defensive lineman from Wichita Falls Rider, earned first-team All-District honors.
Lawson, a 6-2, 250-pound defensive lineman from Breckenridge, was a two-time first-team 3-3A All-District on both sides of the ball (fullback and defensive lineman), second-team offense and defense as a sophomore and Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2019.
Smith, a 6-2, 285-pound defensive lineman from Tulsa McLain earned Athlete of the Year for District 4-3.
Bryce Woody is long, athletic outside linebacker who has shown the ability to cover while playing safety in high school but also shows a wide variety of skills,” said Cassity. “Scott Koumado is an extremely long athletic LB who has shown the ability to dominate in space and can play inside or outside linebacker in our system. Bryce Morton is an extremely intelligent football player who has a natural instinct for finding the football and understands how to be elite within the box.
Woody, a 6-4, 190-pound linebacker from Odessa Permian, was a unanimous All-District 2-6A selection and co-Defensive MVP.
Koumado, a 6-3, 190-pound linebacker from Shadow Creek HS, was a second-team All-District selection.
Morton, a 6-1, 215-pound linebacker from Houston-C.E. King, racked up 74 tackles and 22 tackles (11 sacks) for loss last season and earned first-team All-District accolades.
Jordan Mukes is a transfer to us from Oklahoma that has an extremely high upside to play corner or even multiple positions in the backend,” Cassity said. “He is another one that is extremely long and athletic and brings a veteran presence to the room having played in some games at OU. Jalen O’Neal is an extremely, long athletic lockdown corner. Has the versatility and athleticism to play all over the secondary if he wanted to.
Tyson Williams is an elite athletic corner who shows the ability to eliminate people in coverage and also be an extremely dynamic returner. Jameer Dudley is a long, athletic safety who has the potential to play in the middle of the field or down in the box. He also has the ability to be a great punt returner. He’s also a great basketball player.”
Mukes, a 6-3, 210-pound defensive back from Choctaw (Okla.), transfers from Oklahoma. came to OU as a corner but played mostly safety in his two seasons. He was a 247 Sports 4-star prospect and played in 12 games as a true freshman, mostly on special teams. He arrived as the No. 4-ranked player in the state of Oklahoma.
O’Neal, a 6-3, 170-pound defensive from Manvel High School, earned first-team All-District and a three-star rating by Rivals.
Tyson Williams, a 5-10, 170-pound defensive back from Bixby, helped the Spartans to three State championships. He was 6A-1 Defensive Back of the Year.
Dudley, a 6-1, 190-pound safety from Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, earned 27-6A first-team All-District honors.