JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 5, 2003) - East Tennessee State University head football coach Paul Hamilton announced his 2003 recruiting class Wednesday during a press conference at Memorial Center.
The group includes 12 high school signees and three mid-semester transfers. The Buccaneers - who have enjoyed three winning seasons over the last four years - did not have to look far to reload, signing 11 high school seniors from the state of Tennessee.
"I am pleased with the quality of in-state players that we were able to bring into our football program," Hamilton said. "We continue to recruit quality I-AA players that we need to be recruiting in our own state.
"We also are very pleased with the number of linemen that we signed. We felt like that was a big need of our football team after last season, particularly the offensive linemen we brought in have a chance to come in and help our football team."
Brandon Barnes*6-5*250*Lineman*Chattanooga, Tenn.*East Ridge HS
Team co-captain and a three-year starter … had 95 tackles and 16 tackles for loss his senior year and also recorded 15 pancake blocks … voted first-team All-Region and All-State teams in Class 4A … selected as a Chattanooga Times-Free Press All-Star, as he led his team to consecutive playoff berths, including the region championship his junior year … a member of his school's track team, where he was a state runner-up in the shot put as a junior … coached by Tim James.
Walter Brown*5-10*185*Running back/cornerback*Elizabethton, Tenn.*Elizabethton HS
Four-year letterwinner and three-year starter for the Cyclones … broke two long-standing school records by rushing for 1,678 yards in 10 games to break a record that was 31 years old, and scoring 174 points in a single season to break a record that had stood for 57 years … a three-sport star who stood out in both basketball and track … selected Elizabethton's top offensive player in 2002 and the All-Region 4A Player of the Year … was a Tennessee Sports Writers Association first-team selection … coached by Tommy Jenkins.
Donald Butcher*6-5*310*Offensive lineman*Chattanooga,*Hixson HS
Led team in pancake blocks and recovered two fumbles defensively as a senior … was named to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of Preps and preseason All-State teams … runs a 5.23 40-yard dash and has a 27-inch vertical jump … bench presses 330 pounds and can squat 425 pounds … coached by Todd Windham.
Ricky Epps*6-1*260*Defensive lineman*Fort Myers, Fla.*Fort Myers Senior HS
A two-way starter at guard and defensive tackle … had the second highest blocking percentage on the team and ranked fourth on the team in tackles … was a first-team All-Southwest Florida selection as a junior … was a first team All-Southwest Florida and honorable mention All-State pick as a senior … a team captain in 2002 … coached by Sammy Sirianni.
James Garmany*6-0*210*Athlete*Dayton, Tenn.*Rhea County HS
A three-year starter, a two-time Chattanooga Times-Free Press All-Area and an All-State selection … his senior year threw for 700 yards and rushed for 820 … had seven interceptions including three in one game, which was a school record … had 1,000 yards receiving, 1,700 yards rushing, and 14 interceptions during his prep career … has scored a touchdown by kickoff return, interception, rushing, receiving, passing and punt return … a team captain that was selected to the Tennessee/Kentucky All-Star Game … coached by Jason Fitzgerald.
Brandon Gibson*6-3*295*Offensive lineman *Sevierville, Tenn.*Sevier County HS
An All-Big East First Team and Mountain Press Lineman of the Year in 2001 … named first team All-Big East, All-Region and All-State (Coaches team) as a senior in 2002 … Team captain as a senior and a four-year letterwinner … was major contributor as a defensive lineman on Class 5A state championship team in 1999 … had 3.5 grade point average as a senior … coached by Steve Brewer.
Matthew Hurd*6-3*215*Tight end/linebacker*Kingsport, Tenn.*Sullivan North HS
A four-year varsity player and a team captain … named all-conference twice after a career in which he recorded 114 unassisted tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 12 sacks for loss, seven forced fumbles and 34 pancake blocks … a three-year starter for head coach Gary Harris.
Kenny Harper*5-11*221*Running back*Knoxville, Tenn.*South-Doyle HS
Rushed for a school record 2,200 yards for his career … his senior season rushed for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also collecting 78 tackles, 1 interception and 2 fumble recoveries … selected to the TACA Kentucky vs. Tennessee All-Star Game … TFAC All-State … All-Big East Conference, All-East Tennessee and All-Knoxville Area in 2001 and 2002 … State Player of the Week in 2002 … coached by Jim Swafford.
Reggie Jones*6-1*190*Wide receiver/defensive back*Knoxville, Tenn.*Austin East HS
Started three years at Austin East … excelled in basketball and track … had 65 receptions for 1,242 yards, an average of 19.1 yards per catch during his career … also rushed for 126 yards on 14 carries … had 18 touchdown receptions and four scores on the ground … an All-KIL and All-East Tennessee selection … was a member of the 2001 state championship team at Austin-East … coached by Stanton Stevens.
Bart McMillan*6-2*215*Linebacker*Bristol, Tenn.*Tennessee HS
Recorded 80 solo tackles, 38 assists, six sacks and caused four fumbles his senior year at linebacker … also averaged 7.7 yards a carry and had seven touchdowns as a fullback in 2002 … a team captain his senior year … was selected All-Conference, All-Northeast Tennessee, All-Big Six Conference and All-State by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association, Tennessee Coaches Association and Associated Press … An All-Conference selection for three years … finished his career with a school-record 238 tackles, 356 total tackles, 10 forced fumbles and 18 sacks … a four-year letterwinner in football and a three-year letterwinner in baseball … coached by Greg Stubbs.
Antonio Minor*6-0*193*Wide receiver/Running back*Knoxville, Tenn.*Fulton HS
Scored 22 touchdowns as a junior and senior, scoring 14 on receptions, six on interception returns and one each via fumble recovery and kickoff return … runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash … Had 51 receptions for 1,003 yards and collected 12 interceptions during the 2001 and 2002 seasons … All-Region, All-East Tennessee and All-State selection … named Knoxville Football League Player of the Year and the East Tennessee Class AAA Player of the Year … selected to the Kentucky/Tennessee All-Star game … coached by Buck Coatney.
Anthony Nelson*6-4*334*Offensive lineman*Kingsport, Tenn.*Virginia Tech
A mid-semester transfer from the Hokies football program … saw action in seven games as a redshirt sophomore in 2001 … earned Super Iron Hokie status during both the preseason and winter testing sessions, bench pressing 440 pounds and having a 700-pound back squat … lettered four years as a two-way tackle at Sullivan South High School … listed as the No. 2 offensive lineman in the state of Tennessee as a senior by the Kingsport Times-News … was a prep All-American.
Cameron Northern*6-3*350*Lineman*Los Angeles, Ca.*El Camino College
Two-year player at El Camino College in Torrance, Ca. … played defensive tackle his first year at El Camino and made the change to offensive line the second season … helped lead team to Mission Conference Championship in 2001.
Tate Pittman*6-0*235*Linebacker*Mechanicsville, Va.*Oregon
An all-around athletic player, posting a 31-inch vertical jump, squatting 485 pounds and clocking a 4.8 40-yard dash while at Oregon … was a two-year starter at Arizona Community College before joining the Ducks … Tallied 80 unassisted tackles among 118 stops as a sophomore in addition to recording five tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks to rank among the nation's top 100 junior college prospects by SuperPrep Magazine.
Nick Rivers*6-2*235*Linebacker*Chattanooga, Tenn.*Hixson HS
Had 97 tackles in 2002 to lead his team … recovered four fumbles (two of which were returned for touchdowns), had six tackles for loss, and one touchdown reception as a tight end … was a Chattanooga Times-Free Press Preseason Super 13 and Best of Preps selection … runs a 4.6 second 40-yard dash and has a 31-inch vertical jump … coached by Todd Windham.