GREENSBORO — On February 5, 2011, Rod Broadway was named the head football coach at North Carolina A&T, which was a day after National Signing Day, and he therefore had no National Signing Day class to speak of.
Four years and one MEAC title later, there is a lot to talk about in Aggieland when it comes to football. Broadway, 2 ½ months removed from leading the Aggies to a share of the MEAC title, the school’s first championship in 11 years, announced his 2015 Signing Day class on Wednesday. The Aggies signed three defensive linemen, three offensive linemen, three wide receivers, two defensive backs, two linebackers, two specialists, one running back and one quarterback.
“It’s hard sometimes when you go in with a plan and see a guy who is pretty good, but he doesn’t fill a need. You have to walk away from him, and we did that quite a bit this year,” said Broadway. “Three years ago we could not do that. Two years ago we could not do that.
“We believe it is a good class on paper. We hopefully filled most of our needs with this class. We needed to get a few offensive linemen, defensive linemen and long snappers, which we did. We feel good about what we're bringing in here. They are good people, good students and hopefully they can come in here and help us.”
A&T has been of the best run stopping defenses in the nation over the past four years thanks to a solid defensive front. The Aggies added to their depth with signing of defensive linemen Kadarius Kendrick (6-5, 250, Forest Park, Ga., Forest Park HS), Calvin Trotty (6-3, 270, Spring Lake, N.C., Overhills HS) and Jermaine Williams (6-3, 265, Lumberton, N.C., Lumberton HS).
The Aggies needed to add depth along the offensive line after losing All-American center Ronald Canty, All-American and three-time All-MEAC standout guard/tackle William Ray Robinson III and 2014 starting right guard Olin Leak. In a hope to replace their success, the Aggies inked offensive linemen Malik Johnson (6-3, 340, Arden, N.C., Christ School), Marcus Pettiford (6-4, 270, Durham, N.C., Hillside HS) and Micah Shaw (6-2, 260, Fayetteville, N.C., Seventy-First HS).
Big-play receivers Denzel Keyes, Xavier Griffin and Caleb Gabriel really enhanced the Aggies offense in 2014. A&T added to its big playmaking capabilities by bringing in Shawn Barnes (6-4, 180, Fayetteville, N.C., E.E. Smith), Donovahn Jones (6-3, 190, Stockbridge, Ga., University of Minnesota transfer) and Cameron Moore (6-3, 190, Bayboro, N.C., Pamlico County HS).
A&T’s secondary consisted of two All-American corners in Donald Mattocks and Tony McRae. Mattocks completed his eligibility in 2014 and McRae will be entering his senior season. The Aggies replenished their defensive backfield with Jalon Bethea (6-0, 170, Durham, N.C., Hillside HS) and Craig Gailliard, Jr. (6-0, 185, Dearborn, Mich., Edsel Ford).
One of the best tacklers in school history, All-MEAC linebacker D’Vonte Grant, played his final season at A&T in 2014. A&T hopes to keep their reputation for stellar defense intact with linebackers Adrian McPherson (6-0, 210, Fayetteville, N.C., E.E. Smith HS) and Julius Reynolds (5-11, 215, Wilmington, N.C., Hoggard HS). The Aggies also added two specialists in long snapper Landon Brewer (6-1, 235, Lumberton, N.C., Lumberton HS) and punter Steven Sawicki (6-4, 210, Hope Mills, N.C., Grays Creek HS).
William Hollingsworth (5-9, 240, Plymouth, N.C., Plymouth HS) will join the Aggies at the running back position, while Kylil Carter (5-11, 213, Austell, Ga., South Cobb HS) will try to become the future at the quarterback positon for A&T.
“It gives you a lot of credibility when you win championships and you get a program turned around,” said Broadway. “Kids want to play for championships. Kids want to play for rings. I hope we can get some more (championships) in here. It makes recruiting a whole heckuva lot easier.”