East Central University head football coach Tim McCarty and his staff signed 17 high school players and one junior college defensive back during national signing day activities on Wednesday.
“We are very happy with this recruiting class. We feel that we addressed the areas that we had identified as a staff for this class to lift our team and put healthy depth at all positions,” said McCarty, who is entering his fourth season on his second stint (sixth overall) as ECU. “The process is a lot of time and investment by our coaching staff, ECU university personnel and this very talented group of student athletes.
“The ultimate destination of our program is to play for and win championships as we move forward. Moving to an 8-3 record this past season was a step in that process.”
The Tigers acquired quarterback Garrett Lehnick, out of Gore High School. Lehnick was a first team all-star by class, district quarterback of the year and an All-Vype Magazine First Team selection after completing 56 percent of his passes and throwing for 26 touchdowns.
“He has great range and flight of the ball,” McCarty said.
At running back, ECU nabbed Ada High School product Nathan Blakley. The 6-3, 200-pounder averaged 7.5 yards per carry last season for the Cougars.
Also joining the Tigers is Jeff Guckenberg, a 6-3, 205-pounder at the ‘H’ receiver position. He was a first team all-district in Class 5A for Sache High School (Texas). He caught 40 passes for 707 yards and six touchdowns this past season.
The Tigers also nabbed another receiver in athletic and speedy Brad Davis, out of Norman High School. Davis averaged 14 yards per catch, 11 yards per rush and returned five punts for touchdowns and three kickoffs for scores. He was all-district as a receiver and was the district’s special teams player of the year.
On the offensive line, ECU will welcome four this fall in Mason Sixsmith, Demetreas (D.J.) Pyfer, Spencer Damm and Daniel Smith.
Sixsmith, a 6-6, 275-pounder, was an all-district selection out of Booker T. Washington High School. Pyfer, from Lawton High School, earned all-district accolades as well in helping Lawton make a playoff run.
Damm is a 6-6, 255-pounder described as a great athlete for Moore High School and Smith was a district lineman of the year and honorable mention all-state honoree. Smith has placed first in six powerlifting meets and paved the way for a 3,000-yard rusher at Anadarko High School.
Up front, the Tigers acquired the services of Patrick Diaz, who was an all-district pick and an Oklahoman, Tulsa World and Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State award winner. Diaz led Class 6A in sacks this past year with 17 for Lawton High School. He is also scheduled to play in the Oil Bowl, a football all-star game between Oklahoma and Texas’ best high school standouts.
At inside and outside linebacker, ECU picked up five student-athletes in Cole Weber, Drevon Keywaykla, Gamaro Murphy, Brett Gilstrap and Adonis Wiley.
Weber, at 5-10, 195, was an OSSAA all-star defensive back by class, Daily Ardmoreite Super Team selection for three years and an all-district most valuable player out of Davis High School. Amazingly, Weber averaged 12.9 yards per carry as a senior to go with 1,865 yards, five punt returns for touchdowns and 56 career TDs.
Keywaylka is a 6-3, 210-pounder from Elgin, registered 148 tackles, seven sacks and one interception in being named district linebacker of the year. Offensively, the versatile athlete caught 88 passes for 889 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Murphy, a 6-1, 220-pounder out of Southeast High School in Oklahoma City, totaled 114 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, six sacks, one fumble recovery and one defensive touchdown. He was team captain, all-city co-linebacker of the year in Class 5A and an all-district selection.
Gilstrap, a 6-1, 215-pounder from Bethany High School, was a Class 3A all-state pick, Oklahoman Little All-City honoree and all-district selection. He played defensive end in nickel schemes and set a Bethany sack record with 42 career efforts, including 15.5 sacks this past year. He also rushed for 768 yards (6.5 yards per carry).
Wiley, a 6-5, 210-pounder from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, is described by McCarty as having a superior skill set after earning all-district accolades. He recorded five tackles for loss, two sacks and six knockdowns this past year.
Three secondary players are among the Tigers’ recruiting class, including Lexus Jackson, Aaron Ballard and Davian (D.J.) Noble.
Jackson, a 5-11, 180-pounder out of Bristow, was a District 3A-4 most valuable player and an all-star by class (3A). He recorded four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and had 10 kickoff returns for 294 yards and a pair of scores. On the offensive side of the ball, he caught 64 passes for 956 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Ballard, a 6-1, 180 safety from Sachse, Texas, was chosen district defensive back of the year and was voted MVP during his Sachse High School playoff run. He registered 89 tackles along with six interceptions and is described as a ball hawk by McCarty.
Noble is the team’s lone junior college signee out of Copiah Lincoln Community College (Miss.).
“Davian is a true man corner(back) who possesses tremendous speed and athletic ability. He’s a superior athlete with great ball skills and body control,” said McCarty.
Coming in to contribute as kicker and punter is Mason Briggs, a 6-3, 215-pounder from Bixby High School. Briggs had a whopping 43.2 yards per punt average to lead Class 6A in being named all-district. He was the fifth-rated punter in the nation on MaxPreps list. Briggs was also a second team all-state recipient and a Vype Magazine All-First Team Punter. Amazingly, 88 percent of Mason’s kickoffs went for touchbacks this past season.
“I would like to thank my assistant coaches for doing an outstanding job of being relentless in pursuing these players. These coaches are passionate about what we are trying to achieve here at this fine institution and truly care about the development of players in multiple areas. We are looking forward to the coming season and future.”