Dixie State head football coach Shay McClure announced the signing of 36 players on Wednesday as part of National Signing Day, including 33 high school players and three junior college players. The Trailblazers also added four mid-year transfers prior to Signing Day.
“We really tried to identify specific needs this year as we head into year three with this staff,” McClure said. “We did a great job of filling those needs with this class. We really attacked our goals of making both the offensive and defensive lines stronger. The whole staff did a great job finding those players who fit our program both on and off the field. Another emphasis this year was finding speed. We did an awesome job of that with this class."
Nathen Aceves (OL, 6-foot-1, 295 – Covina, California) played offensive line at Charter Oak High School and earned first-team All-League, first-team All-Area and All-CIF honors. He was also a two-time Offensive Lineman of the Year.
“Nathen has a huge upside on the offensive line. He’s aggressive, he’s athletic and can play multiple positions along the offensive front,” McClure said.
Taylor Alvarez (OL, 6-4, 280 – South Jordan, Utah) played on the offensive line at Bingham High School, earning Utah State 6A All-Region honors.
“Taylor is a player who brings length and height at a position where we were looking for just that," McClure said. "He’s a very good athlete. We’re excited to get a young man from Bingham into our program.”
Dylan Beridon (DL, 6-3, 255 – Chino Hills, California) played on the defensive line at Rancho Cucamonga High School, earning first-team All-League honors while helping the Cougars to three Baseline League Championships.
“Dylan is explosive off the football and uses his hands well. He’s really going to add to the depth of our defensive front,” McClure said.
Shane Bowe (OL, 6-5, 267 – Mission Viejo, California) played on the offensive line at Tesoro High School and earned first-team All-League honors.
“Shane has the length to compete at guard or tackle. He’s been working hard and will step right in to compete,” McClure said.
Cameron Breckenridge (TE, 6-4, 215 – San Diego, California) played two seasons at San Diego Mesa College. He earned first-team All-League and All-Academic honors at Scripps Ranch High School.
“We really looked to get a long, athletic tight end this year. We knew Cameron would fit that role perfectly," McClure said. "He can play both wide receiver and tight end. We’re really excited to get Cameron.”
Kenny Brooks (DB, 5-11, 180 – San Diego, California) played defensive back at Morse High School and was named an SDFNL All-Star.
“Kenny can play corner or safety, which is exactly what we look for. He’s an explosive, physical football player, and we’re really excited to have him,” McClure said.
Josh Carlson (P, 6-0, 165 – Gilbert, Arizona) averaged 40.9 yards per punt and placed five punts inside the 20-yard line as a senior at Gilbert High School.
“After losing our starting punter this last season, we needed to go out and find a replacement. Josh is that guy," McClure said. "He’s a great young man and is turning heads nationally. I’m really excited to get him on campus.”
Devin Chandler (DB, 5-10, 175 – San Bernardino, California) earned four varsity letters at defensive back at Upland High School.
“Devin is one of the fastest guys we’re bringing in this year," McClure said. "He’s a true speed guy in the secondary and will be able to run with anybody. He’ll also help in the return game.”
Dylan Douglass (LS, 5-11, 180 – Mission Viejo, California) played two seasons at Saddleback College. He also carried out long snapping and special teams duties at Laguna Hills High School and earned LHHS Special Teams MVP honors in 2015.
“The long snapper is an integral part of the special teams unit, and we needed to replace ours after graduation," McClure said. "Dylan really excels in that part of the game and we’re excited to bring him here.”
Jumarius Earls (TE, 6-4, 223 – Salt Lake City, Utah) is a two-time All-Region and Utah State honorable mention honoree as a tight end at Copper Hills High School. Earls caught 15 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns as a senior.
“Jumarius is a long, athletic tight end. We feel like we can split him out wide or move him around to do a lot of great things in space,” McClure said.
Augustus Fraser (LB, 6-1, 173 – Carson, California) earned second-team All-League and scholar-athlete honors at Culver City High School. Fraser recorded 98 tackles (17.0 TFL), 2.0 sacks and two interceptions as a senior.
“Augustus will help bolster our hybrid linebacker/safety position. He’ll come in and compete right away with a legitimate shot at seeing the field this year,” McClure said.
Chris Grasso (OL, 6-4, 285 – Lake Forest, California) played two seasons at Saddleback College after anchoring the offensive line at El Toro High School.
“Chris will make an immediate impact at either the tackle or guard position. He can play either position," McClure said. "He’s a great addition for us, and again, will make an immediate impact.”
Dayne Hall (OL, 6-2, 285 – Mililani, Hawaii) earned first-team honors and was a team captain on the offensive line at Kamehameha High School.
“We’re really excited to get Dayne here. His father (Antone) played here at Dixie State when it was a junior college, so his family is excited as well," McClure said. "Dayne will help provide depth on the offensive line.”
Elijah Isiah (DB, 5-10, 172 – Fresno, California) played defensive back and wide receiver for Edison High School. As senior, Isiah caught three touchdowns, while picking off three passes on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re very fortunate to get Elijah. He’s a very polished defensive player," McClure said. "He can play man or zone and just understands where’s he supposed to be. He’s been really well coached.”
Maurice Jones (DB, 5-9, 165 – San Marcos, California) played defensive back at Mission Hills High School.
“Maurice is a very smart football player," McClure said. "He’s athletic, and we’re going to be able to do a lot of things with him to help the defense.”
Jayden Lacayo (DL, 6-0, 290 – St. George, Utah) played four seasons of varsity football on the defensive line at Snow Canyon High School. He finished the 2017 season with 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks, and he garnered honorable mention honors.
“We’ve been recruiting Jayden for a long time. He’s really explosive and he set himself apart from others with how we played against the tough competition in his league,” McClure said.
Malaki Malaki (LB, 6-0, 205 – American Samoa/Murrieta, California) started his high school career at Leone High School in American Samoa before finishing at Murrieta Valley High School. As a senior, Malaki logged 126 tackles (12.0 TFL), 1.5 sacks and one interception.
“We’re really excited to get Malaki. He’s a long linebacker that’s been really well coached," McClure said. "He has a lot of really great football ahead of him.”
Tyson Martin (OL, 6-4, 280 – Herriman, Utah) earned four varsity letters on the offensive line at Herriman High School and garnered second-team All-Region honors.
“We’re looking to get longer and bigger on the offensive line. Tyson definitely fits that profile," McClure said. "He’s a great in-state get for us.”
Lionel Masivi (DB, 6-0, 171 – Eastvale, California) earned three varsity letters and was a two-time All-League honoree at Roosevelt High School.
“Lionel is multi-position player in that he can play man or he can play the middle third. He’s physical and will come down and hit you,” McClure said.
Mikel Oliver (DL, 6-3, 260 – San Diego, California) earned All-League and All-CIF honors on the defensive line at Steele Canyon High School, helping the Cougars to a CIF, regional and state championship.
“Mikel is a huge get for us. He’s going to be an immediate impact guy for us on the defensive front," McClure said. "He’s both big and athletic. I can’t say enough about Mikel and what he brings to our program.”
Will Payne (DL, 6-3, 250 – La Mesa, California) played on both the offensive and defensive line at Helix High School.
“Will played on both sides of the ball in high school, but we’re really excited to use him on the defensive line here. He’s really explosive and uses his hands well," McClure said. "He’s got his best football ahead of him.”
Chase Petersen (QB, 6-2, 215 – Mission Viejo, California) earned All-County and League MVP honors as a senior, passing for 2,900 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for another 800 yards and nine touchdowns.
“When I hired coach Blake Rolan as offensive coordinator he said Chase was the quarterback we should go after. He’ll fit coach Rolan’s offense perfectly," McClure said. "We love his presence and the way he commands the offense. It’s exactly what we’re looking for at the quarterback position.”
Travis Plantier (LB, 6-2, 230 – Temecula, California) earned three varsity letters and first-team All-League honors at Vista Murrieta High School. Travis recorded 49 tackles and 2.0 sacks as a senior.
“Travis is a phenomenal linebacker, and we’re thrilled to have him at Dixie State," McClure said. "He’s extremely tough and is ready to go to work.”
Avante Robbs (OL, 6-2, 260 – Menifee, California) earned first-team All-League, All-Area and All-CIF honors on the offensive line at Heritage High School.
“Avante is a young man that can come in and play multiple positions for us on the offensive front," McClure said. "He really fits a need to bring length to the position as well.”
Lopaka Rojas (OL, 6-2, 315 – San Diego, California) earned All-League and All-East County honors as a team captain on the offensive line at Helix High School.
“Lokapa is a great young man and comes from a great family. We’re excited to have him come in and compete at the guard position,” McClure said.
Malcolm Ross-Turner (WR, 6-3, 190 – San Diego, California) played wide receiver at Rancho Bernardo High School. Ross-Turner caught 35 passes for 658 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.
“Malcolm brings length and speed to the wide receiver position. He brings the whole package of what a receiver should be outside,” McClure said.
Giovanni Sanders (WR, 6-0, 175 – Murrieta, California) played wide receiver at Murrieta Valley High School, and he made 94 catches for 1,695 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior.
“Giovanni is explosive with the ball in his hands. He’s a great athlete, and there’s no question his best football is ahead of him,” McClure said.
Kaejin Smith-Bejgrowicz (DB, 6-0, 180 – Las Vegas, Nevada) earned All-State and honor roll honors as a safety at Shadow Ridge High School. He recorded 28 tackles and two interceptions as a senior.
“Kaejin is one of those guys that can do it all at the safety position. He’s a player that can come in and help bolster the position,” McClure said.
Jarvis Stafford (OL, 6-4, 260 – Inglewood, California) played on the offensive line at Narbonne High School, helping the Gauchos to two state championships and three city-section titles.
“Jarvis is a huge get for us. He’s got a huge upside, and we know he’s going to come in and make an immediate impact at the offensive tackle position,” McClure said.
Deshaun Staples (WR, 6-0, 175 – Oxnard, California) earned first-team All-League honors and received multiple Wide Receiver of the Year awards at Oxnard High School.
“Deshaun is an extremely dynamic player with the ball in his hands. He comes from a great high school program with a great coach," McClure said. "He’ll be able to step in and compete for playing time right away.”
Lawrence Starks (RB, 5-10, 190 – Fontana, California) earned All-League and All-Area honors at Etiwanda High School. Starks rushed for 1,580 yards and 19 touchdowns without a fumble as a senior.
“We’ve known for a long time that Lawrence was the guy we wanted to compliment what we already have in the backfield. He’ll be in the mix for carries from day one,” McClure said.
Chinonso Ugochukwu (DB, 6-0, 170 – Las Vegas, Nevada) earned second-team All-State honors as a defensive back at Palo Verde High School.
“Chinonso is a long, aggressive safety that will come hit you. He really fits the mold of what we’re looking for at that position and can play either the strong or free side of the safety position,” McClure said.
Davion Ware (DB, 6-1, 175 – North Las Vegas, Nevada) earned three varsity football letters at Liberty High School and is a two-time All-League honoree at cornerback.
“Davion is a true cornerback. He’s long and he’s great in press coverage," McClure said. "That is our mold and what we like to do. We’re really excited to have Davion.”
Kyle Whitesides (OL, 6-4, 270 – Portola Hills, California) earned three varsity letters on the offensive line at El Toro High School and garnered first-team All-League honors.
“Kyle is a big, long player that can help us out at either guard or center. He’ll provide some options for us along the offensive front,” McClure said.
Kaden Williams (DL, 6-5, 245 – St. George, Utah) played on the defensive line at Dixie High School, earning first-team All-Region honors. Williams recorded 33 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a senior.
“Kaden had a great senior season at Dixie High School. He really fits the mold of our goal to get longer and bigger on the defensive line. We feel like he can come in and help us on the defensive front immediately,” McClure said.
Isaiah Wooden (WR, 5-8, 156 – San Diego, California) played wide receiver and returned punts and kicks at Helix High School. Wooden caught 52 passes for 922 yards and 14 touchdowns while racking up 906 yards of punt/kick return yardage as a senior.
“Isaiah is one of the most dynamic players with the ball in his hands. He’s explosive and can do everything. We’re extremely excited to get Isaiah and to have the opportunity to coach him for the next four years,” McClure said.
Trent Darms (QB, 6-1, 180 – Chico, California) joins the Trailblazers after an impressive freshman campaign at Shasta College. Darms completed 166 passes for 2,142 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2017, while rushing for another 153 yards and five touchdowns.
“Trent is a very accurate passer. He’s an athletic and smart player, who led his team at Shasta to a championship last season,” McClure said.
Darren Jones (DB, 6-0, 180 – New Orleans, La.) played his freshman season at Hartnell College before signing with Dixie State. Jones recorded 42 tackles and one interception in 2017.
“We absolutely love Darren and what he brings to the cornerback position. He is a lockdown corner and will fit right into everything we do in the secondary,” McClure said.
Conner Miller (QB, 6-1, 205 – Santa Ana, California) played two seasons at Santa Ana College before joining the Trailblazers at Dixie State. Miller completed 198 passes for 2,952 yards and 28 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2017, while rushing for another 207 yards and three more touchdowns.
“Conner is a great competitor with a strong arm. He led his team to a championship at Santa Ana. We’re excited to have him,” McClure said.
Joshua Partida (OL, 6-3, 295 – San Diego, California) signed with Dixie State after two seasons at Southwestern College.
“Josh is a very athletic offensive lineman. He really solidifies the guard position and will allow us to do a lot of great things offensively,” McClure said.
Keric Seegmiller is Assistant Coordinator of Media Relations at Dixie State University and the Voice of Trailblazer Athletics. Contact him at [email protected].