Gardner-Webb Announces 2018 Recruiting Class on National Signing - | WBTV Charlotte

Gardner-Webb Announces 2018 Recruiting Class on National Signing Day

Gardner-Webb football announced a 13-man recruiting class on National Signing Day, as 12 high school prospects and one FBS transfer signed on with the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Head coach Carroll McCray welcomed eight new signatures on Wednesday, joining four December signees from the fertile high school ranks in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. GWU also announced the addition of transfer offensive lineman Chris Jones, who enrolled in January after spending two seasons at Coastal Carolina.

Jones (6-2, 285) starred at nearby Crest (N.C.) High school, leading the Chargers to a 32-0 record and two state titles as a junior and senior from 2013-2014. He will have three seasons of eligibility remaining and will push for a starting nod with Gardner-Webb in spring practice later this semester at guard.

“This class has as much potential early impact as any we have signed during my time here,” said McCray, who will enter his sixth season as head coach in 2018. “We had a small senior class this past season, so this wasn’t going to be a huge recruiting class numbers wise. In terms of quality, we laid a strong foundation during the early period in December, and really feel great about the young men we recruited and signed today.

“The speed and athleticism in this class, particularly on the back end defensively, will help us quickly. There are several young men in this class who we expect to play very early next season.”

The jewel of the class is three-star defensive back Malachi Buckner (6-1, 195) from Peach State powerhouse Tucker (Ga.) High. An All-DeKalb County choice, Buckner garnered more than 10 Division I scholarship offers during the course of his senior season, including five from FBS programs.

Buckner helped his Tigers program to 25 wins over the past two seasons and was a key part of a defense that held teams to single digits eight times in 2017 – with three shutouts. He finished his senior campaign with 59 total tackles and 5.0 tackles for loss as Tucker finished with a 12-2 record. Buckner was also the first new Runnin’ Bulldog to sign his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday morning, putting pen to paper at 7:01 am.

Buckner was one of four signees from Georgia, joining linebacker Quinton Jones (6-1, 210) of Thomasville (Ga.) High, defensive tackle Janathian Turner (6-3, 300) of Towers (Ga.) High and safety George Welch (6-2, 200) of Aquinas (Ga.) High.

Gardner-Webb also continued to build its roster with strong local talent, as Shelby (N.C.) High tight end Maleek McMullens (6-2, 220), East Rutherford (N.C.) High linebacker Cade Hamilton (6-1, 230) and South Point (N.C.) High linebacker Matthew Robinson (6-2, 215) signed on with the program in December. Gardner-Webb added Burns (N.C.) High defensive end Stormy Mosteller (6-3, 240) on Wednesday – along with the addition of Jones via the transfer route in January.

Mosteller earned All-State honors as a junior in 2016, recording 32.0 tackles for loss and 18.0 sacks for the Bulldogs. He finished with 63 tackles and 6.0 quarterback sacks despite heavy double teams in 2017.

Gardner-Webb added nine signees on the defensive side of the ball, with four capable of playing in the secondary. GWU signed two defensive linemen and three linebackers.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs will now focus on spring practice, which is set to begin in late March – following spring break.

“Spring practice for us will start later than usual this semester. We wanted to allow our athletic performance staff a full eight weeks of work with our guys in order to make some strides in strength and speed,” said McCray. “The guys came back to campus in January with plenty of enthusiasm, and we are very excited to get them out on the field at full speed to prepare for the 2018 season.”

Gardner-Webb opens its 2018 season at home vs. Division II foe Limestone on Saturday, September 1 at 6:00 pm.

A complete list and bios for the 2018 class are listed below:

Commitments & Signees

Dexter Brown * 5-11 * 175 * RB * St. Augustine, Fla. / St. Augustine HS

Malachi Buckner * 6-1 * 195 * DB * Tucker, Ga. / Tucker HS

Izaiah Gathings * 6-4 * 210 * WR * Statesville, N.C. / Statesville HS

Cade Hamilton * 6-1 * 230 * ILB * Forest City, N.C. / East Rutherford HS

Chris Jones * 6-2 * 285 * OL * Grover, N.C. / Crest HS / Coastal Carolina

Quinton Jones * 6-1 * 210 * ILB * Thomasville, Ga. / Thomasville HS

Cameron McCutcheon * 6-2 * 180 * CB * Seneca, S.C. / Seneca HS

Maleek McMullens * 6-2 * 220 * TE * Shelby, N.C. / Shelby HS

Stormy Mosteller * 6-3 * 240 * DE * Casar, N.C. / Burns HS

Matthew Robinson * 6-2 * 215 * OLB * Belmont, N.C. / South Point HS

Janathian Turner * 6-3 * 300 * DT * Decatur, Ga. / Towers HS

Jalen Weddington * 5-11 * 190 * DB * Charlotte, N.C. / Mallard Creek HS

George Welch * 6-2 * 200 * FS * Augusta, Ga. / Aquinas HS

Dexter Brown II * 5-11 * 175 * RB * St. Augustine, Fla. / St. Augustine HS

Played senior season at St. Augustine (Fla.) High under Coach Brian Braddock … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds … Covers the 100m dash in 10.7 seconds … Helped team to a 12-1 mark in 2017 … Earned first-team All-County honors from the St. Augustine Record … A third-team All-First Coast selection by the Jacksonville Times-Union … Home run threat averaged 9.9 yards per carry as a senior … Carried 172 times for 1,699 yards and 15 touchdowns … Posted seven games with 100+ yards rushing … Had a season-high 365 yards rushing and four touchdowns on just 19 carries vs. Navarre (Fla.) High … Had a 93-yard touchdown run in that game … Added a pair of 80-yard touchdown runs and a 55-yarder in an eye-popping effort … Ran 17 times for 221 yards and three scores vs. Menendez (Fla.) High, including an 88-yard sprint to the end zone … Had 217 yards and two scores on 13 carries vs. Tate (Fla.) High … Posted a 90-yard touchdown run vs. Ponte Vedra (Fla.) High, part of a game that saw 138 rushing yards on just six carries … Caught 14 passes for 186 yards and two more touchdowns … Played as a reserve during previous seasons at state power Plant (Fla.) High near Tampa … Father, Dexter Brown, played linebacker at Appalachian State … Chose Gardner-Webb over an offer from Bethune-Cookman and ETSU.

Malachi Buckner * 6-1 * 195 * DB * Tucker, Ga. / Tucker HS

Played at Tucker (Ga.) High under Coach Bryan Lamar … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds … Rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com … Helped Tigers to a 12-2 record in 2017 … Team won 25 games combined over the past two seasons … Earned first-team All-Region and All-DeKalb County honors in 2017 … Finished senior season with 59 total tackles and 5.0 tackles for loss … Recovered one fumble … Spearheaded a defense that held opponents to one touchdown or less in eight games … Tigers’ defensive unit pitched three shutouts in 2017 … Posted 46 total tackles (37 solo), a half sack and one interception as a junior in 2016 … Also recovered a fumble … Posted 26 tackles and picked off three passes as a sophomore in 2015 … Chose Gardner-Webb over Youngstown State, Florida A&M and Charleston Southern … Also garnered scholarship offers from Colorado State, Central Michigan, Southern Miss and Tulane.

Izaiah Gathings * 6-4 * 210 * WR * Statesville, N.C. / Statesville HS

Played at Statesville (N.C.) High under Coach Randall Gusler … Signed with Gardner-Webb on December 20 … Two-time All-Conference selection … Named first-team All-County by the Statesville Record & Landmark as a senior … Helped Greyhounds to a 9-3 mark as a senior … Caught 48 passes for 642 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 … Had eight catches for 121 yards and three scores in a win over West Rowan (N.C.) High … Caught four passes for 126 yards and a touchdown vs. West Iredell (N.C.) High … Scored a combined six touchdowns in the final three games of the regular season … Caught 35 passes for 539 yards and four scores as a junior … Averaged 15.4 yards per catch in 2016 … Had three catches for 117 yards and two scores vs. West Iredell (N.C.) High … Averaged 32.3 yards per catch on three grabs for 97 yards in the season opener vs. Hickory (N.C.) High in 2016 … Named Iredell County Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2016-2017 by the Statesville Record & Landmark … Averaged 11.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game as a junior wing … Father, Danny Gathings, was named 2004 Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year in men’s basketball at High Point and earned Associated Press All-America honors before playing professionally in Finland and Sweden.

Cade Hamilton * 6-1 * 230 * ILB * Forest City, N.C. / East Rutherford HS

Played at East Rutherford (N.C.) High under Coach Clint Bland … Signed with Gardner-Webb on December 20 … Two-time All-County choice by the Forest City Courier … Posted 319 total tackles over his final two prep seasons … One of the top inside linebackers in the Old North State … Finished senior season with 158 total tackles, 29.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks … Forced five fumbles … Earned Southwestern 2A All-Conference honors in 2017 … Had a season-high 23 stops vs. Burns (N.C.) High … Made at least 15 tackles in four different games … Had double figures stops in 10 games … Made 17 tackles each vs. R-S Central (N.C.) High and East Gaston (N.C.) High … Made 13 stops vs. Shelby (N.C.) High … Earned Class 2A All-State honors from NCPreps.com as a junior … Collected 161 total tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2016 … Made a season-high 22 tackles in a 7-0 shutout win over R-S Central (N.C.) High … Also had 4.0 tackles for loss in that game … Made 20 tackles, including 15 solo stops vs. East Burke (N.C.) High … Had 19 tackles vs. T.C. Roberson (N.C.) High … Made 18 stops each vs. North Gaston (N.C.) High and Draughn (N.C.) High … Had double figures stops in 10 different games … Made at least 15 tackles in five games … Chose Gardner-Webb over Western Carolina.

Chris Jones * 6-2 * 285 * OL * Grover, N.C. / Crest HS / Coastal Carolina

Transfer from Coastal Carolina who enrolled at Gardner-Webb in January, 2018 … Will participate in spring practice and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining … Will compete for a starting spot at guard with the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

2017 at Coastal Carolina: Saw action in two games … Logged snaps vs. Western Illinois (9/23) and Arkansas State (10/14). 2016 at Coastal Carolina: Redshirted.

High School: Played at state powerhouse Crest (N.C.) High under Coach Will Clark … Led Chargers to back-to-back Class 3A State Championships in 2013 and 2014 … Part of a core group that led program to a 32-0 record over final two seasons … Earned honorable mention All-County honors from the Shelby Star in 2015 … Cleared a path for an offense that rumbled for 2,511 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground that season … Key blocker for Cleveland County Player of the Year Tre Harbison (Northern Illinois), who finished as the county’s all-time leading rusher with 5,770 career yards … Garnered scholarship offers from Liberty, Gardner-Webb and Coastal Carolina prior to his senior season.

Quinton Jones * 6-1 * 210 * LB * Thomasville, Ga. / Thomasville HS

Played at Thomasville (Ga.) High under Coach Zach Grage … A first-team All-Area selection at linebacker in 2017 by the Thomasville News-Recorder … Also earned All-Region honors in 2017 … Finished senior season with 68 total tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and three quarterback sacks … Made 52 solo stops … Collected a season-high 10 total hits (eight solo) in the state playoffs vs. Heard County (Ga.) High … Had nine total hits vs. Early County (Ga.) High … Made eight stops vs. rival Cairo (Ga.) High in the season opener … Made five solo stops vs. Tallahassee Chiles (Fla.) High … Also broke up three passes on the season … Had 45 total tackles (36 solo) as a junior in 2016 … Added 6.0 tackles for loss and a sack … Chose Gardner-Webb over Charleston Southern, Mercer and Western Illinois.

Cameron McCutcheon * 6-2 * 180 * CB * Seneca, S.C. / Seneca HS

Played at Seneca (S.C.) High under Coach Hal Capps … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds … Earned first-team All-Region honors in 2017 as a senior … Helped squad to an 8-4 record … Named second-team All-Area by the Anderson Independent-Mail … Picked off four passes on the season … Broke up six passes and had one fumble recovery … Returned one punt for a touchdown … Earned honorable mention All-Area honors as a junior in 2016 … Also a standout in Track & Field, running the 100m and 400m hurdles … Chose Gardner-Webb over The Citadel.

Maleek McMullens * 6-2 * 220 * TE * Shelby, N.C. / Shelby HS

Played for state powerhouse Shelby (N.C.) High under Coach Lance Ware … Signed with Gardner-Webb on December 20 … Finished career with 49 catches for 546 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons … Helped Shelby High to a 12-3 mark in 2017 … Caught 27 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown during senior season … Helped Golden Lions to a 16-0 mark and their fourth consecutive state title in 2016 as a junior … Caught 19 passes for 167 yards and four touchdowns in 2016 … Chose Gardner-Webb over The Citadel and Campbell.

Stormy Mosteller * 6-3 * 240 * DE * Casar, N.C. / Burns HS

Played at Burns (N.C.) High under Coach David Devine … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds … Athletic end with a 30-inch vertical leap … Named All-Cleveland County for the second season in a row by the Shelby Star in 2017 … Also a second-team All-Area selection by the Charlotte Observer in 2017 … Posted 63 total tackles along with 6.0 sacks as a senior … Earned team Defensive MVP honors and All-Conference honors for the second-straight season … Named Class 3A All-State as a junior by NCPreps.com … Also earned All-Cleveland County honors from the Shelby Star and All-Conference honors in 2016 … Finished the 2016 season with 76 total tackles, 32.0 tackles for loss and 18.0 quarterback sacks in a dominant campaign.

Matthew Robinson * 6-2 * 215 * OLB * Belmont, N.C. / South Point HS

Played at state power South Point (N.C.) High under Coach Adam Hodge … Signed with Gardner-Webb on December 20 … A Class 2A All-State selection by NCPreps.com as a senior … Named Gaston Gazette Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 … Selected to play in the 2017 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas … Two-time All-Area selection … Earned 2017 All-Southwestern Conference honors … Collected 85 total tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks as a senior … Intercepted one pass … Also blocked a punt and recovered for a touchdown vs. Shelby (N.C.) High … Had 11 total tackles (10 solo) in the season opener vs. Crest (N.C.) High … Enjoyed an outstanding junior season … Helped Red Raiders to the 2016 Class 2AA State Championship … Finished with 133 total tackles (72 solo), 18.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 quarterback sacks … A second-team All-Gazette selection by the Gaston Gazette … An All-Big South Conference selection at linebacker following junior season … Chose Gardner-Webb over Army, Western Carolina and Charlotte.

Janathian Turner * 6-3 * 300 * DL * Decatur, Ga. / Towers HS

Played at Towers (Ga.) High under Coach Brian Montgomery … Big, athletic lineman who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds or better … Named to the 2017 DeKalb County All-Star Game as a senior … Led team’s defensive linemen with 59 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and two sacks in 2017 … Forced a fumble and made one fumble recovery … Made 20 hits (10 solo) and had 5.0 tackles for loss as a junior … Added one sack.

Jalen Weddington * 5-11 * 190 * DB * Charlotte, N.C. / Mallard Creek HS

Played at state power Mallard Creek (N.C.) High under Coach Mike Palmieri … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds … Helped Mavericks to a 14-1 record in 2017 … Capable of lining up at cornerback or safety … Four-year starter and two-time All-Conference selection … Finished season with 88 total tackles and one interception … Broke up seven passes … Forced one fumble and recovered another … Played junior season at South Mecklenburg (N.C.) High … Started high school career at Vance (N.C.) High as a freshman.

George Welch * 6-2 * 200 * FS * Augusta, Ga. / Aquinas HS

Standout safety at Aquinas (Ga.) High under Coach James Leonard … A two-way standout at receiver and safety … Three-time All-Area selection by the Augusta Chronicle … Two-time All-State selection … A member of the Augusta Chronicle Dream 16 Team … Caught 118 career passes for 1,896 yards and 15 touchdowns at receiver … Finished career with 204 total tackles (99 solo) at safety … Earned honorable mention Class 1A All-State selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2017 at safety … A first-team All-Area selection by the Augusta Chronicle in 2017 … Finished with 60 total tackles, five pass break ups and three forced fumbles as a senior … Recovered one fumble and had two interceptions … Caught a career-best 53 passes for 580 yards and five touchdowns in 2017 … Had 10 catches for 188 yards and two scores in a win over Laney (Ga.) High … Collected a season-high 10 total hits vs. Washington-Wilkes (Ga.) High and Greene County (Ga.) High … Earned second-team All-Area honors from the Augusta Chronicle as a junior … Finished with 23 catches for 459 yards and three touchdowns on offense … Also had 80 total tackles, six fumble recovers, three forced fumbles and an interception on defense … Returned two fumbles for touchdowns in 2016 … Earned second-team All-State honors in 2015 … Also a second-team All-Area and first-team All-Region selection … Caught 38 passes for 759 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore in 2015 … Made 55 total hits and picked off one pass at safety … Helped Irish to a regional title and runner up finish at the 2015 State Championship … Also played baseball and basketball … Brother, Liam, is a quarterback for Samford University.

Press release provided by Gardner-Webb Athletics

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