Sumrall discusses midyear additions

Published 2:58 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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On Thursday, Jan. 27, Troy football coach Jon Sumrall spoke to the media about the team’s midyear additions, which include a number of transfers.

Feb. 1 marks National Signing Day for college football and Sumrall confirmed that Troy has three players that have already signed their letters-of-intent that will be announced on Feb. 1 as those players wished to not have it released until having their own signing ceremonies. Sumrall also said that he anticipates Troy bringing in “one or two” further additions and said that this weekend would be a big recruiting weekend for the Trojans, as next week marks the beginning of a “dead period” where coaches can’t host recruits or visit them.

With the beginning of the New Year – heading into spring practices in a couple of months – Troy has officially added three early enrollee freshmen and 21 transfers. Those transfers include scholarship and walk-on additions from FBS, FCS, Division II and junior college (JUCO) schools. The three freshmen are defensive lineman Ty’Quarius Perry, linebacker Keyshawn Campbell and quarterback JD Sherrod.

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With all of the fresh faces out of the transfer portal, Sumrall was quick to emphasize that recruiting high school and JUCO is where everything begins with the Troy program.

“We’re always going to start with high school recruiting here. That will always be our model first,” Sumrall said. “JUCO with the way it is now, is also more like recruiting high school to me than it is the transfer portal. High school and junior college recruiting is in one lane and the transfer portal is in a different lane. You need to constantly be building your program through high school recruits and then supplement holes that you have on your roster.

“Whether that be depth issues or frontline talent issues. You don’t bring in a transfer guy hoping they’re good players in three years, you need them to step in and meet an immediate need.”

While transfers can fill immediate holes, Sumrall stressed the importance of a potential transfer fitting into the program.

“The biggest thing in the transfer world is you have to be able evaluate whether a guy fits your culture,” Sumrall said. “There is clearly a talent threshold that everyone has to meet but you have to protect the culture of your locker room and the chemistry of your team. You have to fully vet if a guy is going to mesh with what we do here.”

The new transfers include running back Asa Martin (Memphis), quarterback Will “Goose” Crowder (West Virginia), cornerback Damaje Yancey (So. Utah), receiver Chris Lewis (Kentucky), safety Reggie Bracy (Iowa), safety Dasheen Jackson (Hutchison CC), linebacker TJ Thompson (East Central CC), tight end Ethan Conner (East Mississippi CC), defensive end Zach Edwards (Louisville), running back Jordon Ingram (Auburn), linebacker Steven Cattledge (EMCC), receiver/punter Landon Parker (Wofford), bandit Raymond Cutts (Garden City CC), offensive lineman Boaz Stanley (Georgia Military), offensive lineman Tavon Matthews (East Tennessee St.), offensive lineman Blake Austin (East Tennessee St.), offensive lineman Braylun Smith (Birmingham Southern), offensive lineman Eli Russ (Oklahoma State), offensive lineman Markendrick Beall (Tyler JC) and tight end Brody Dalton (UAB).

Martin is one of the newest additions to the team and coming out of Austin High School was one of the top high school recruiting prospects in Alabama. The former Mr. Football in Alabama started his career at Auburn and played the past three seasons at Memphis. Sumrall said he is no stranger to Martin – who is a native of Northern Alabama as Sumrall is – having watched him play football since he was a freshman in high school. Sumrall also said that Troy had to beat out a number of SEC schools to land Martin.

“I remember watching him as a sophomore and thinking, ‘This guy is electric.’ Asa is a very short-area, quick athlete,” said Sumrall. “I think the weight room here will serve him well. It’s been to great to have him here. With DK (Billingsley) leaving I think he maybe saw an opportunity here, from a depth chart standpoint.

“He won’t be given anything, he’ll have to earn it, but I think he’ll position himself well by working hard and making our team and that (running back) room better.”

Crowder is another recent Troy addition that Sumrall believes will only improve the quarterback group.

“I think he’s a good fit with our program and is already meshed well with our guys,” he said of Crowder. “I really like our quarterback room right now, I really do. Goose has a really good skillset, a live arm, quick release, he’s accurate as a passer and a quality athlete. I think that’s one thing understated about him, he runs really good. He’s not a 4.4-40 guy but he’s also not a 5-flat guy either. I feel like we have several (quarterbacks) with a high ceiling and a guy, Gunnar Watson, that has played a lot of football and been through the fire. I like the chemistry and makeup of quality people in that room, and I think it all starts with Gunnar.”

With a number of holes to fill on the offensive line, it was imperative that Troy brought in some new faces. Sumrall said he sees a number of those players being able to compete at multiple positions on the interior of the offensive line.

“Tavon Matthews can play interior line, Bealle can play on the interior and Blake Ausitn can play multiple positions,” he said. “Eli Russ has played center and started a couple of games there at Oklahoma State. We got a lot of really positive reviews about Eli in the workouts thus far.

“Eli has position flexibility, too, and he reminds of sort of a hybrid of Austin Stidham and Jake (Andrews). He’s a little bit longer than Jake but a little bit more powerful than Austin. You can also tell he’s a mature guy.”

Sumrall was also high on JUCO All-American Boaz Stanley.

“Rob Manchester is the head coach at Georgia Military and is a longtime friend of mine. He thinks Boaz is every good as (Troy starting offensive guard) Daniel King,” Sumrall said. “He’s a smart kid that has some toughness about him. We’re very enthused about him.”

Despite all the new additions, Sumrall said he hopes to still add one more offensive tackle in the transfer portal.

“We probably still need to go out and get one more tackle,” he emphasized. “That is probably a need we have as we move forward. We need to add an older tackle to feel good about our depth and our frontline ability.”

Spear is another position of need for the Trojans and Sumrall is high on the potential that Bracy has at that position.

“Bracy is without question a potential to play spear and safety for us,” he flatly said. “I remember Reggie out of high school, he was a really talented kid. He played a lot of special teams (at Iowa) and has already done a nice job within the culture of our team.

“I think he’s hungry, we’re excited bout Reggie. I think he has a chip on his shoulder about wanting to maximize his opportunity to make a name for himself here. I think he’s going to be a really good fit for us and I think really high of him. He’s another high quality young man.”

Another one of those “high quality” players that Sumrall is excited about is Wofford transfer punter/receiver Landon Parker.

“That’s a pretty cool weapon to have,” Sumrall said. “He was a FCS Freshman All-American punter and then a really solid receiver, too. He’s a really well put together kid and mature. He’s really improved and his development is real. I’m excited about him.

“We might see him punt the ball some. We used Kaleb Barker lined up as a punter at times when I was here as an assistant. I think we’ll find ways to use (Parker) back there and make some people anxious with what he can do.”

As Troy will be adding some more additions to the team in the coming week, Sumrall said its important moving into the spring to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the 2023 team.

“Recruiting is the lifeblood of your program but the most important players in the world to me are the ones on our roster right now,” he said. “We have a lot of additions and we have some roster movement that has occurred and I think every team is a different team.

“We have a lot to figure out from a strengths and weakness standpoint in the next few months about where we’re going to head in 2023. The good news is that while I’ve been on the road (recruiting), I’ve talked to (strength and conditioning coach) Rusty Whitt daily and the reports have been really, really positive in regards to our guys’ work ethic, attitude and how they’ve been approaching everything. I think they understand having success in 2022 has nothing to do with success in 2023. It’s a totally different team and they have to go out and earn it and be prepared to earn the right to find their own success.”