RICHMOND, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky University football program added 12 more players to a recruiting class that was ranked fifth in the nation after the December signing period, Head Coach Mark Elder announced today. Six are freshmen that signed on Wednesday and six are mid-year transfers that joined the program at the start of the spring semester.
The group of new Colonels includes three defensive backs, two linebackers, two quarterbacks, two running backs, one wide receiver, one offensive lineman and one defensive lineman.
“We are very excited about the new additions to the football program,” said Elder. “We’ve brought in over 10 players on both sides of the ball that will make a major impact here at EKU. I feel like we have increased our size, our length, our physicality and our athleticism with these new additions. Several of the players joining us will be able to make an immediate impact this fall.”
Two of the three defensive backs are transfers that played in the Big 10, Josh Hayes at Purdue and Frank Sumpter at Illinois. Hayes has three seasons of eligibility remaining while Sumpter has two.
The defensive lineman is Elijah Taylor, a transfer from Notre Dame. The two quarterbacks include a freshman signee and a junior college transfer with three seasons of eligibility. The two linebackers are both freshmen signees, including an all-state selection from Ohio.
At the end of the early signing period in December, Eastern’s recruiting class was ranked fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) by 247Sports. This class will be EKU’s third straight top-25 rated recruiting class under Elder. Despite having less than two months to put together his first class, Eastern’s 2016 class was ranked as the 23rd best in the nation. Elder’s second recruiting class was rated as the 14th best.
Eastern Kentucky has won two national championships, 21 conference titles and has made 21 playoff appearances. No other FCS team has won at least two FCS national titles and 20 or more conference championships. EKU has had 66 All-America selections and 33 NFL draft picks.
The following are individual profiles of the signees.
Jayvon Blissett – WR, 6-3, 200, Fr., Hoffman Estates, Ill. (Hoffman Estates HS) – Highlights
“Jayvon is a long explosive athlete,” Elder said. “He is very elusive with good size and will be a match-up problem for defenses.”
Jaelyn Fleming – RB, 5-9, 170, Fr., Gadsden, Ala. (Gadsden City HS) – Highlights
Played for head coach Bart Session at Gadsden City High School … chosen to the ABC 33 All-Star team as a senior … first team all-area as a junior after rushing for 809 yards and totaling 707 yards receiving.
“Jaelyn is a very fast running back that can hit the home run,” said Elder. “He’s versatile in that he can line up in the backfield or we can flex him out as a receiver and get him quick touches on the perimeter. He will add a new dynamic to our offense.”
Demarcus Irons Jr. – QB, 6-5, 200, Fr., Lawrenceville, Ga. (Grayson HS) -- Highlights
Chosen as the offensive player of the year in Georgia.
“DJ is a true duel threat quarterback,” Elder said. “He’s very good fundamentally, has a big arm and can make all the throws. He’s athletic enough that we can have quarterback designed runs and he can extend plays with his feet.”
Jakari Lumsden – LB, 6-1, 205, Fr., Youngstown, Ohio (Fitch HS) – Highlights
Earned third team all-state honors at Austintown Fitch High School while playing for head coach Phil Annarella as a senior in 2017 … also chosen first team all-district and first team all-conference as a senior … recorded 70 tackles, two sacks, one interception, 576 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns his senior season … team captain … selected first team all-conference after finishing with 50 tackles as a junior in 2016 … won the regional championship and qualified for the state championship in the high jump as a member of the Falcons’ track team.
“Jakari is an outstanding football player that played on both side of the ball in high school,” said Elder. “He will be a very physical and athletic linebacker with good size here at EKU.”
Trey Mullins – LB, 6-1, 210, Fr., Corryton, Tenn. (Gibbs HS) – Highlights
Totaled 61 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, six sacks, seven quarterback hurries, three pass deflections, one fumble recovery and 1,011 rushing yards as a senior in 2017 playing for head coach Brad Conley at Gibbs High School … chosen Region 2-5A Player of the Year and first team all-region his senior season … also selected second team All-Prep Extra, three-time Top Performer of the Week, three-time Player of the Game and QuarterBacks Club Player of the Week as a senior … Tennessee & Kentucky Border Bowl participant … Gibbs High School Running Back of the Year … team captain … had 40 tackles and eight sacks as a defensive end his junior season, earning first team all-region honors.
“Trey is an athletic and physical player that will transition to linebacker for us after playing defensive end in high school,” Elder said. “He plays with tremendous effort. We love what we saw from him in camp this past summer at the linebacker position.”
Joseph Sayles – DB, 6-0, 190, Fr., Alpharetta, Ga. (Chattahoochee HS) – Highlights
Team captain at Chattahoochee High School … had 50-plus tackles, two blocked punts and two interceptions as a senior in 2017 … registered 40-plus tackles, five sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown as a junior in 2016.
“Joseph is a very versatile defensive back,” said Elder. “He has great size, length and athletic ability. He has the ability to play both corner and safety at the college level.”
(the following student-athletes joined the program at the start of the spring 2018 semester)
Josh Hayes – DB, 6-0, 185, R-So., Indianapolis, Ind. (Purdue)
AS A SOPHOMORE IN 2017 AT PURDUE UNIVERSITY
Did not play in any games … redshirt season.
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2016 AT PURDUE UNIVERSITY
Appeared in nine games, making one start as a true freshman … finished the season with 13 total tackles, including 11 solo stops … intercepted first collegiate pass versus Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 3) … finished that game with four solo tackles … had a pair of tackles at No. 8 Nebraska (Oct. 22) … tallied two solo tackles versus No. 24 Penn State (Oct. 29) … had a season-high five tackles, four solo, at Indiana (Nov. 26).
Earned all-state, All-MSC Conference, and All-Marion County honors as a senior at Pike High School … had 34 tackles, six interceptions, eight pass break-ups, four tackles for a loss, eight receptions for 197 yards and one touchdown in 2015 … team captain … defensive MVP.
Alphonso Howard – QB, 6-1, 200, So., Chicago, Ill. (Asa College)
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2017 AT ASA COLLEGE
Played in 10 games for Asa College in Brooklyn, New York … completed 30-of-52 passes for 57.7 percent … threw for 625 yards and tossed eight touchdown passes … averaged 12 yards per attempt … tossed just one interception … carried the ball 62 times for 401 yards, 40.1 yards per game … scored three rushing touchdowns … completed 9-of-12 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 77 yards on six carries in a 70-0 victory over Wagner (Sept. 10) … completed 12-of-22 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns in a 76-6 win at Hocking (Nov. 11).
Played for head coach Mike Kirshner at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Indiana … played with EKU wide receiver Azjai Cooper at BDHS.
Ray Raulerson – OL, 6-4, 295, R-Sr., Tampa, Fla. (West Virginia)
AS A REDSHIRT JUNIOR IN 2017 AT WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
Saw action in three games, against Delaware State (Sept. 16), Kansas (Sept. 23) and Oklahoma (Nov. 25) … earned his undergraduate degree in multidisciplinary studies in December 2017.
AS A REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE IN 2016 AT WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
Sat out due to NCAA transfer requirements.
AS A REDSHIRT FRESHMAN IN 2015 AT UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
Appeared in five games … made his collegiate debut against Bowling Green (Sept. 5) … saw action in the Outback Bowl victory over Northwestern (Jan. 1).
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2014 AT UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
Rated as a three-star by 247Sports (No. 83 offensive tackle, No. 123 prospect in Florida); a three-star by ESPN (No. 113 offensive tackle, No. 191 prospect in Florida); a three-star by Rivals (No. 54 offensive tackle, No. 77 prospect in Florida); and a three-star by Scout (No. 53 offensive tackle, No. 77 prospect in Florida) … earned first team all-county recognition as a senior by the Tampa Bay Times … chosen all-county honorable mention as a junior by the Tampa Bay Times … part of offensive line that paved the way for Plant to accumulate almost 400 yards of total offense per game in 2013 … helped lead Plant to a 11-2-1 record as a senior and advance to the semifinals of the Florida 8A State Tournament … played for coach Robert Weiner at Plant High.
Frank Sumpter – DB, 5-11, 185, R-Jr., Cleveland, Ohio (Illinois)
AS A REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE IN 2017 AT UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Saw action in seven games … had one tackle … played primarily on special teams … Academic All-Big Ten.
AS A REDSHIRT FRESHMAN IN 2016 AT UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Played in nine games and started twice at defensive back … played primarily on special teams … finished the season with 10 tackles, including six solo stops … made his first collegiate start against Minnesota … had a season-best six tackles against Michigan State … missed the last three games of the season with an injury … Academic All-Big Ten.
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2015 AT UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Three-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN.com at Glenville High School … ranked as the No. 18 prospect in Ohio and as the No. 3 cornerback in Ohio by ESPN.com … ranked as the No. 6 cornerback in Ohio by 247Sports … second team all-state as a senior … led Ohio with nine interceptions in 2014 and also had 12 pass break-ups … first team all-conference and All-District Division II his senior season … played in the 2014 OHSFCA North-South All-Star Game … also a member of the track and field team.
Elijah Taylor – DL, 6-3, 270, R-Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio (Notre Dame)
AS A REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE IN 2017 AT UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
Missed the 2017 season due to an injury.
AS A REDSHIRT FRESHMAN IN 2016 AT UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
Appeared in four games for the Irish, including each of the final three contests … recorded three solo tackles against USC (Nov. 26) … registered one tackle for a loss against USC (Nov. 26).
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2015 AT UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
Did not play … redshirt season.
Named to USA Today American Family Insurance All-USA Ohio Football Team as defensive lineman … first-team Associated Press All-Ohio Division 1 All-State selection as a linebacker … named to Cincinnati Enquirer Football All-Star Team … first-team defensive lineman on 2014 Associated Press Southwest All-District Division I Team … ranked 203rd player nationally and 20th defensive tackle on Scout 300 list … rated 20th among defensive tackles nationally by 247Sports and 34th by ESPN … rated 206th player nationally on Tom Lemming’s Top 300 list … named to PrepStar All-Midwest Region squad as defensive lineman … made 68 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 12 sacks as senior in 2014 for Moeller High School … helped Moeller to 10-4 record in 2014, Ohio Division I state semifinals and Greater Cincinnati League tri-championship … GCL South first-team pick … named to Cincinnati Enquirer Division I All-City Team … had a season-high 15 tackles in Moeller’s playoff win over St. Xavier … made 68 tackles, six sacks and one fumble recovery as junior in 2013 on a 14-1 Moeller team that won Ohio Division I state title.
Andre Teague Jr. – RB, 5-11, 224, So., Louisville, Ky. (Kentucky Wesleyan College)
AS A FRESHMAN IN 2017 AT KENTUCKY WESLEYAN COLLEGE
Played in four games … rushed two times for three yards, had one tackle.
Earned all-metro first team honors as a running back at duPont Manual High School … scored 13 touchdowns his senior season … team captain and defensive MVP.