By Kelsey Johnson
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The University of the Incarnate Word’s football team is 18 recruits stronger after National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
“What we have that is really good is that we have a fabulous university in a great location, we have a great city to sell and we have great people in the program,” Head Coach Larry Kennan said in a news conference at Gayle and Tom Benson fieldhouse.
The 2015 team finished 6-5 overall and 5-4 in the Southland Conference, the coach noted, adding that the Cardinal defense was ranked No. 1 in the state.
Kennan used the conference to personally thank the coaching staff for all of their hard work in the successful 2015 season and their help in signing the new freshman class, which includes six offensive linemen, six players on defense and one quarterback.
The 2016 season will be the seventh year of the UIW football program.
Academics are a key component that draws players to UIW, Kennan said.
“In a six-year period, football has had an 88 percent graduation rate, which is way better than the national average of about 60,” Kennan said. Five players maintained 4.0 grade point averages. (See Southland Conference all-academic team on Page 10.)
Kennan enlightened the crowd on a number of new players, including wide receiver Marquis Lawson, from Crenshaw High School. Lawson was previously committed to UCLA, but in the end chose to sign with UIW.
“We signed three wide receivers and Lawson was the fourth that we stumbled on late and couldn’t pass up,” he said.
The signing season is a tough one on both coaches and players.
“It starts early, it started last year,” Kennan said. “You know we start evaluating players, and in May we go out and evaluate every school in the state of Texas, and we narrow it down to the guys we really want.”
Ryan Carlson, outside linebacker, 6-7, 260, Valley Mills, Texas.
Mar’kel Cooks, linebacker, 6-0, 215, Irving, Texas.
Kyle Covington, cornerback, 6-2, 180, The Colony, Texas.
Oscar Draguicevich, punter, 5-9, 165, Hutto, Texas.
Brandon Floores, outside linebacker, 6-4, 280, La Vernia, Texas.
Aaron Freeman, wide receiver, 5-11, 170, Temple, Texas.
Robert Hayes, defensive back, 6-2, 185, Slidell, La.
Terence Hickman, outside linebacker, 6-3, 260, Converse, Texas.
Desmond Hite, running back, 5-9, 178, Cypress, Texas.
Cam Johnson, wide receiver, 6-0, 178, North Richland Hills, Texas.
David Johnson, quarterback, 6-1, 172, Dallas, Texas.
Marquis Lawson, wide receiver, 5-9, 165, Los Angeles, Calif.
Uzoma Okere, outside linebacker, 6-2, 260, Grand Prairie, Texas.
Mark Palacios, outside linebacker, 6-2, 290, Helotes, Texas.
Levi Swang, outside linebacker, 6-5, 280, Tomball, Texas.
Chris Thomas, safety, 6-2, 185, Houston, Texas.
Isaiah Townes, wide receiver, 6-0, 180, Pflugerville, Texas.
Matthew Yarbrough, defensive tackle, 6-0, 279, Rowlett, Texas.
Spring training for the Cardinals is under way.
The players will put their training to the test in the annual spring football game at 6 p.m. April 9 in Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium.