Quarterback Tedarrius Wiley, running back Labarrian Jones, wide receiver Quayshawn Dumas, safety Kasheem Reid, offensive lineman Kevin Alfonso were the five Raiders who signed letters of intent on National Signing Day.
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Alex Coulthard, who represented the school at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, will be a preferred walk-on at the University of North Carolina.
Wiley off to join
Wiley will follow in his brother Derrick’s footsteps and play quarterback at South Carolina State University.
“My brother being there played a big part in me wanting to go to South Carolina State,” Wiley said. “We grew up in the same household, and we’re going to be restarting our journey together. It’s going to be real special for both of us to be down there, and my dad (Derrick Sr.) is excited about it.”
The Bulldogs, coached by Buddy Pough, finished 10-2 overall a season ago and won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a perfect 8-0 record. SCSU was defeated by Appalachian State 20-13 in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“Coach Pough has built a stable program down there, which should continue to get better in the future,” Hoggard said.
According to Wiley, with Derrick and Bulldogs’ leading passer Malcolm Long ahead of him on the depth chart, he’s going to be a redshirt freshman this upcoming fall season.
Wiley added the coaching staff has already introduced him to the team’s offensive playbook.
Wiley admitted during the recruiting process that he turned down offers from Western Carolina and North Carolina A&T State University. Wiley acknowledged that he was interested in going to Clemson, but the Tigers were loaded at quarterback.
Wiley also explained that there were several other Division I schools that were interested in him, but all wanted him to change position.
“They wanted me to play receiver or defensive back, but I wasn’t going to play any of those positions,” Wiley said. “I’m a quarterback, and there is no other position that I can play.”
Wiley said he plans to major in education at SCSU, which he added was one of the big reasons he chose to go to the university.
Wiley leaves Richmond as one of the school’s most decorated passers. Wiley holds the school record for most passing yards in a career with 4,214 yards and the most touchdowns thrown with 40. Wiley was also named the 2009 Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
“Tedarrius had an unbelievable career, and he broke just about every passing record here at Richmond,” Hoggard said. “But more than anything, Tedarrius is a great young man, and he will do well, in whatever he decides to do in his life.”
Jones getting chance at Catawba
One of the reasons why the Raiders’ offense averaged more than 30 points a game this past season was the running of Jones.
Jones rushed for 1,454 yards on 211 carries and scored a team-high 25 touchdowns during the 2009 season. Now, Jones will take handoffs in the backfield at Catawba College.
According to Jones, Catawba was one of the few schools that offered him a full scholarship. Though Jones possesses a hard-nosed running style, Hoggard said Jones’ smallish frame played a factor in schools not recruiting him hard.
“With Labarrian being 5-foot-5, there weren’t too many colleges that were going to give him a chance,” Hoggard said. “It helped Labarrian that he was able to qualify (academically) early, and all he needed was an opportunity. I’m happy that Catawba is giving him that chance.”
Despite signing a letter-of-intent at Catawba, Jones admitted that there could be a possibility that he never steps on campus.
“The deal is non-biding, so I have a chance to change my mind, if I chose to do so,” Jones said.
Jones said Indians coach Chip Hester has informed him that he has an opportunity to start at tailback as a freshman. Catawba’s roster consist of some former Raider standouts. But the Indians struggled last season going 4-6 overall and finishing last in the South Atlantic Conference.
“I know the team went through some hard times last season,” Jones said. “If I do decide to stay at Catawba, hopefully, I can help turn things around.”
Despite Jones’ diminutive size, Hoggard believes Jones has the tools to be a successful college tailback.
“The old saying is great things come in small packages,” Hoggard said.
“Labarrian is a tremendous player who plays with a lot of heart. I have no doubt that’s he’s going to make an impact on the college level.”
Versatile Reid hooks up with Fayetteville State
Richmond’s defense went through its ups and downs this past season, but the unit’s most consistent player was Reid.
Reid tallied a team-leading 176 tackles at the safety position. During the Raiders’ run to their 2008 state championship, Reid switched from safety to linebacker and gave Richmond stability at the position. Hoggard said Reid was a great leader on defense and his strongest quality was his versatility, which he will take to Fayetteville State University.
“Kasheem is a very aggressive player, who is a tremendous hitter. He has a lot of fun playing the game and he plays the game the right way. Kasheem is going to have a great career at Fayetteville State,” Hoggard said.
According to Reid, he could redshirt this upcoming season. But Reid said he knows he’s going to a good program as the Broncos are coming off an 8-4 season where they won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) conference last season.
“They’ve got a strong football tradition down there and are coming off a strong season,” Reid said. “I just want to go down there, work hard and put myself in position to hopefully earn some playing time.”
Reid added that he plans to major in communication and business at Fayetteville State. Reid said the coaching staff’s emphasis on education was what persuaded him to commit to the university.
“They told me they worry about school first and football later,” Reid said.
“They want to make sure that I do the necessary things to graduate and be able to get a job in when I leave school.”
Coulthard hoping to play at UNC
While Coulthard saw the rest of his teammates sign letters-of-intent at different universities, the former Raider left tackle is taking a different path to play football in college.
Instead of taking full scholarship offers at either Catawba or North Carolina A&T, Coulthard said he plans to go as a “preferred walk-on” at the University of North Carolina. As a “preferred walk-on” player, Coulthard will be given a scholarship once one becomes available.
“I had a lot of good offers, and I enjoyed those schools (Catawba and North Carolina A&T) thoroughly,” Coulthard said.
“But UNC is where I want to be and I’ve got a real good relationship with (UNC) offensive line coach Sam Pittman. It was a big decision and I talked many a night with my parents about doing this.”
Coulthard added that he also has gotten advice from former Raider defensive standout and current Tar Heel defensive tackle Tavares Brown.
“I’ve talked to Tavares a lot, and he was telling me about how the transition will be up there,” Coulthard said. “He just told me to do what makes me happy, and have a strong ethic in the weight room.”
Coulthard admitted that he knows many are going to second guess his decision.
“A lot of people would say that I should take the full ride, but they don’t realize that it’s not about the money,” Coulthard said. “I feel at home at UNC, but I was just a little late in the process. UNC is one of the top 25 programs in the country, and coach Butch Davis has the program on the rise.”
Coulthard explained that Hoggard told him that he also walked-on when he played at East Carolina University.
Hoggard believes his Shrine Bowl and first-team all-SEC conference offensive lineman has what it takes to make his dream a reality.
“I believe Alex’s best football is ahead of him because his body is still maturing,” Hoggard said.
“He has got good size and he still has some growing to do. Alex has great technique and certainly can play on a Division-I level.”
Alfonso headed to California
Raider offensive lineman Kevin Alfonso will have perhaps the longest road trip to get to his new school: Alfonso signed with Feather River Junior College, a community college located in Quincy, Calif.
Alfonso, a standout lineman at Richmond who was selected to the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas last year, plans to get his lower-division requirements out of the way at Feather River, then hopefully transfer to a four-year school and conclude his playing career.
The exposure of playing in the Shrine Bowl definitely helped in the college recruitment process, Alfonso said.
“I’ve heard they have a pretty good program there, and I am hoping to step in and contribute,” Alfonso said.
The Golden Eagles sent 16 players from this year’s team on to four-year schools.
They finished the 2009 season ranked No. 15 in Northern California.
The distance will be an adjustment for Alfonso and his mother, Jennifer, who has attended every one of Kevin’s games since he was just eight years old.
“I’m going to do my best to get out there,” Jennifer Alfonso said. “If he starts, I’ll be there.”
Kevin Alfonso said he knows it will be an adjustment to be so far away from home. But he and his mom have a plan for when homesickness strikes.
“We’ll make sure to keep a lot of minutes on his phone,” Jennifer Alfonso said with a smile.
Dumas off to Kansas
For receiver Quayshawn Dumas, the chance to continue playing football will lead him to Hutchinson Junior College in Kansas. The Raiders’ leading receiver in 2009, Dumas earned a full-ride scholarship to the Kansas school.
Like Alfonso, Dumas plans to use the two-year ride to get early requirements out of the way before moving on to a four-year school.
The change to continue playing wide receiver — his natural position — appealed to Dumas. “I’m going to go out there and do my best, and keep my options open,” Dumas said. “I’m looking forward to the new challenges, and I hope I can step in and make a difference.”
Dumas led the Raiders with 43 catches for 966 yards and 10 TDs last season, helping lead the Raiders to the Southeastern Conference title in the reconfigured conference’s first season.
He leaves Richmond as the school’s second-leading all-time receiver behind Lovell Joy.
Dumas’s grandparents, Anthony and Frances Ellerbe, hope to hit the road and see their grandson play in his new uniform.
“We’re very proud of him,” Frances Ellerbe said.
The Blue Dragons finished the 2009 season 7-4, capping the year with a 22-14 win over New Mexico Military Institute in the Salt City Bowl.
They sent eight players on to four-year schools off that team.
Contact sports reporter Corey Davis at 997-3111, ext. 44; e-mail email@example.com. Sports editor David Vantress contributed to this story.