Football adds final pieces to 2020 recruiting class

The Kennesaw State football team signed two recruits and one mid-year transfer player on National Signing Day last Wednesday, Feb. 5. The team’s 2020 recruiting class includes 18 players and three mid-year enrollees.

“We’re excited about this group,” head coach Brian Bohannon said. “Excited about what they are bringing to the table.”

KSU added a pair of running backs and a wide receiver to a deep class of incoming freshmen, which ranks first in the Big South Conference, according to 247sports.com. The Owls’ coaching staff locked down 15 signees on Dec. 18, 2019, which marked the end of the national early signing period. This year’s class includes 10 offensive players, seven defensive players and a kicker.

One of the team’s recent signees is running back Kemari McGowan from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. During his high school career, McGowan ran for over 7,200 yards, according to KSU Athletics. After four successful seasons, the running back now ranks second in state history for most all-purpose yards gained in a career with 8,043. As a senior, McGowan earned the 2019 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Award.

Another out-of-state recruit joined the Owls on National Signing Day, increasing this season’s total to six players from outside the state of Georgia. Wide receiver Xavier Hill of Pleasant Grove, Alabama, is the only pass-catcher of this year’s class and will likely provide an early impact for the team. Hill was given a three-star rating by 247sports.com after totaling 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.

When recalling Hill’s visit to KSU, Bohannon said that the recruit was likened to former KSU receiver Justin Sumpter, who dominated in the slot receiver position. Sumpter signed a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 and later appeared in two games this season for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Both Hill and McGowan possess explosive speed and big-play capabilities, which are essential to the team’s run-heavy offensive scheme.

“Both [of] those kids are really dynamic,” Bohannon said. “You watch their tape, and they end up in the end zone a lot.”

The third signee of the day came by way of a transfer. Running back Jalynn Sykes chose to enroll at KSU mid-year after one season at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. A native of Rome, Georgia, Sykes rushed for over 2,900 yards in his three-year varsity career, according to MaxPreps.com. As a senior, he earned a three-star rating from ESPN.com and received several offers from power-five conference programs.

KSU’s coaching staff filled needs at multiple position groups with the 2020 class, but its primary focus was to add size and depth in the trenches. Of the team’s 18 signees, seven occupied positions on the lines.

“The offensive and defensive line have really been priorities for us,” Bohannon said.”The line of scrimmage — when you look at where we want to go, and who we have to be to get there — that’s where to look.”

Four defensive linemen signed to the team in the early signing period. They will join a KSU group that ranked third in the FCS in total defense by allowing just 278.7 yards per game, and fifth in FCS rushing defense with 88.9 yards allowed.

Among the 2020 signees are four three-star prospects and a pair of two-star prospects, according to 247sports.com. The class is mostly comprised of All-State and All-Region award recipients, who have also earned academic accolades. The group contains four honor-roll students, two players with a 4.0 GPA and a 2019 Teacher’s Assistant of the Year.

“If you can get a kid that does well in the classroom, he’s going to have a chance to be more successful when it comes to football,” Bohannon said. “We’ve found that guys [who] do well in school … they’re able to flourish when they come over here.”

The KSU football team will welcome its mid-year enrollees as they join the team for spring practices. All new signees will join the team this summer, as the Owls prepare to kick off the 2020 season at home against Point University on Saturday, Sept. 5.

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