Football Set to Add 35 to Squad

Courtesy of Sports Information Desk

Southern Oregon head football coach Craig Howard announced today the signing of 35 individuals to National Letters of Intent to play football next Fall for the Raiders.

The group of signees included 27 freshmen, six juniors and two sophomores. Overall, the group includes 21 offensive players, 12 defensive players and two special teams players.

“I’m really happy with the group of young men that we were able to sign so late in the year,” Howard said. “These young men are great athletes, men of character and all have high GPA’s. We are still recruiting and adding people each week. We’ll keep recruiting until it’s time to play.”

Offensively, the Raiders scored with a talented group of wide receivers and running backs.

“Our emphasis this year was to go out and get as many skill guys as we could,” Howard said. “We got a great group of receivers, got some good speed and a great group of linebackers.”

Michael Olson, Justin Otaguro, Karl Graves and Greg Heath highlight eight wide receivers slated to play for SOU.

Olson led American River Junior College in receiving this year with 39 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns. He also averaged 32.1 yards per kickoff return with a long of 68 and earned All-Conference honors.

Otaguro, who played at Diablo Valley Junior College, finished third on the team in receptions with 26 for 351 yards and an average of 13.5 per catch.

Graves comes to SOU after earning three-straight All-Conference honors at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash. Despite missing most of his senior season with an injury, Graves finished with 412 receiving yards, four touchdowns and an average of 17.17 yards per catch.

Heath earned All-Conference honors at Central Catholic High School in Portland following his senior season. Heath caught 43 passes for 799 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior.

Kamana Akagi (Western Montana), Josh Ascuncion (Damion Memorial High School/Oahu, Hawaii), Riley Springer (Omak High School/Omak, Wash.), Willie Tiernan (Roseville High School/Roseville, Calif.) and Matt Cornish (North Valley High School/Grants Pass) are also planning on attending Fall camp.

Manny Barragan, Michael Jasper and Lawyer Tillman lead a group of six running backs.

Barragan comes to SOU as a junior after an impressive two years at Shasta Junior College in Redding, Calif., and a standout prep career at Yreka High School. Barragan rushed for 627 yards and four touchdowns this past Fall for the Knights. He also averaged over 14 yards on punt returns and over 20 yards on kickoff returns.

Jasper was named All-Conference and the league’s top running back at Bellflower High School in California and Tillman earned All-Conference and Offensive MVP honors at North Thurston High School in Lacey, Wash.

Chase Lawrence (Evergreen High School/Vancouver, Wash.), Derrick Margeran (Campolinda High School/Lafayette, Calif.) and Tyler Stickler (Cascade Christian/Medford) are also on the list of running backs.

Ricky Fuentes comes to SOU as a threat at wide receiver or running back after an impressive prep career at Turlock High School in California. Fuentes rushed for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior and also finished with 390 receiving yards and an average of 26 yards per catch. Eight of his 15 receptions were for touchdowns.

Max Proudfit and Drew Gibson lead a group of four offensive linemen. Proudfit was an All-Everything lineman this past Fall at Union High School in Vancouver, Wash., and Gibson comes to SOU after earning All-Conference honors at North Medford High School.

Tim Young (Humboldt State/Gold Beach High School/Weddeburn) and Nick Guthrie (Hood River High School/Hood River) will give the Raiders some much need depth along the offensive line.

The Raiders also signed a pair of quarterbacks.

Former South Medford standout AJ Palazzolo will return to the Rogue Valley for his junior season. Palazzolo spent last year at Shasta Junior College after attending both Cal Lutheran and Pacific Lutheran out of high school.

Zach Newberry comes to SOU after an impressive prep career at San Lorenzo Valley High School in Felton, Calif. Newberry was named the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League Offensive Player of the Year after passing for over 1,700 yards.

The dozen defensive players are led by an impressive group of linebackers.

Former Roseburg High standout Lucas Corder leads the group of linebackers. Corder spent last season as a red-shirt at NCAA Division I Portland State. As a prep at Roseburg, Corder was All-State as a linebacker and Honorable Mention All-State as a running back as a senior and was voted the Southwest Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Linebackers Ikaika Gunderson, Folau Peaua and Austin Schmidt could produce immediately for the Raiders straight out of high school.

Gunderson earned All-Region and All-Conference honors at Camas High School in Washington. Peaua was All-State and All-Region as a linebacker and second-team All-Region as an offensive lineman. Schmidt earned All-Conference honors at Leilehua High School in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

Defensive lineman Denzel Kankam also has a chance to make an immediate impact. Kankam earned All-Conference honors at Centennial High School in Gresham.

Other defensive players slated to join the Raiders include: linebacker Nasser Bseiso (Ponderosa High School/El Dorado Hills, Calif.), defensive lineman Kristian Tharp (Sheldon High School), safety Josh Weaver (Roseburg High School/Winchester), Alika McNicoll (Kamehameha High School/Kapolei, Hawaii), linebacker Austin Flores (Damien Memorial High School/Honolulu, Hawaii) and defensive back Beau Bridge (Union Mine High School/Diamond Springs, Calif.).

Punter Mitch Huff (Roseburg High School/Roseburg) and long snapper Cory Pine (North Medford High School/North Medford) are also signed for 2011.

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