The Current Sauce • KNWD

Purple Media Network

The Official Student Media of Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Purple Media Network

Purple Media Network

NSU’s football class of 2024 shows promise with its talent and numbers

Kallie Bourgeois
NSU offensive coordinator Norman Joseph, head football coach Blaine McCorkle and defensive coordinator Matt Conner express promise with the Class of 2024 recruits.

With head football coach Blaine McCorkle taking reins at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, the football class of 2024 added 15 high school athletes to the Demon roster.

McCorkle’s first class shows promise as it is the largest class since 2018. Joining the 10 other incoming freshmen athletes who joined back in December and early January, the 15 athletes are both in-state and out-of-state.

The in-state players include Camryn Davis, a slot receiver, and Braden Woods, a defensive end, from Natchitoches Central; Jeremiah James, a state champion running back, from Many; Abram Johnston, a quarterback, from Parkview Baptist; Brennon Thompson, a wide receiver, from East Ascension; Treven Bradford, a tight end, from Ouachita Parish; Jackson King, a linebacker, from Sterlington; Gylen Ford, a cornerback, from Teurlings Catholic; and Lawson Champagne, an offensive lineman, from Covington.

“We signed 15 athletes, nine guys from Louisiana, five from Texas, and one from Alabama, being close to home was big and we wanted to make sure we sign guys that are familiar with Northwestern State,” McCorkle said.

The five players from Texas include offensive linemen Logan Brady from Jersey Village; Ralee Jackson from Plano East, defensive linemen Antoine Milon from Klein; Collins, and Brock Reddic from Pine Tree; and linebacker Hayden Jenkins from McKinney Boyd. Defensive lineman Michael C. Nixon was the only athlete from Alabama to be added to the roster.

“The geographic profile was exactly what we needed. We needed big bodies, so we signed four defensive lineman and three offensive linemen,” McCorkle said.

McCorkle explained that the recruiting process truly takes 365 days to find the best athletes that fit the team.

“You have the month of January to put together as good of a class as you can, and you have to do that while putting together a new staff. While that staff is being put together you’re recruiting, it was a whirlwind, but I’m proud of our staff and I think we have a quality class.”

After promising to build the program at his introductory November hiring news conference, McCorkle almost splits evenly with eight offensive players and seven defensive players making up the class.

“First qualifier is obviously you must be a good football player; they have to be able to play the game and play it at a high level. The film evaluation and coach’s recommendations go a long way in the process, and that’s where you start,” McCorkle said. “After that, we look to see if they check off some boxes to see if they fit our culture too. There’s no secret as to the recent history here, it’s not glowing, so we must do that by bringing in athletes that are also quality people that are purposeful and motivated.”

Athletes are chosen based on not only their accomplishments on the field, but also how well they perform academically. McCorkle believes that kids who can manage their academics and athletics are more resilient, bringing valuable assets to the team.

“The academic piece was really big, the class’s GPA was a 3.3, which is incredible, it’s unheard of for a freshman class to have that kind of academic profile,” McCorkle said. “With this class we really wanted to make sure their academic piece was in check, because those guys are more motivated to stay when they get into their major and want to have a degree. They’re less likely to bounce out of here at the first signs of things getting tough.”

The staff also investigates the athletes’ character in the class, on the field and as an individual.

“We talk to high school coaches, counselors, teachers, and if we meet a janitor in the hallway we ask about the kid and you would be amazed by what you learn with what you learn from people walking in the halls in high school,” McCorkle said.

McCorkle was grateful to see that the 15 athletes he had his eye on were all able to check off those requirements.

Rebuilding the culture for NSU from past years was important to McCorkle with this first class. One of his hopes for the coming year is to be able to sign more high school students and stray away from the transfer portal.

“We live in such a transfer portal world that quick fixes are just that, they’re quick fixes and they’re broken again,” McCorkle said. “We want to build something that is lasting, so if you could build your team from the ground up with high school kids that want to stay and grow and develop here, then that’s where you build something of significance here that lasts.”

McCorkle’s expectations for the incoming freshman class are set very high.

“This freshman class should come in here, they set a culture and work to get better. If there’s one or two of them that can go into games then that’s great, but if I put all freshmen in then it obviously won’t be great,” McCorkle said. “Because they’re all in the 9th grade again, if you look at it from a high school perspective then you’re doing it again, just at a higher level.”

In return, McCorkle hopes that each player sets an example for the upperclassman on the team to show the standard and culture McCorkle wants to apply.

“My hope is that this freshman class overwhelms the upperclassmen with a high standard of character and expectation, because they’re not going to know any different,” McCorkle said. “Some older guys know some other ways to do things and those things went zero and six, so we got to weigh some of that out and I hope it overwhelms them.”

In the future, athletes looking to get on McCorkle’s radar to become a Demon should follow his advice.

“In today’s market, everyone’s got means of seeing your talent, no one gets missed, there’s no slip through the crack guy. Go be a good student, good teammate and guy and you’re going to get found,” McCorkle said. “There’s a lot of people that will always call or send you emails and that’s great, and sometimes those leads turn out to be good. But then people also must realize, just because you recommend a kid, doesn’t mean I’ll take them.”

Norman Joseph, offensive coordinator who began his second stint as an assistant recruiting coordinator at NSU in 1988 and 1989, explained when looking to recruit an offensive player, much like McCorkle said, talent, academics and character are how most of these young athletes were chosen.

“All the recruiting is pretty much the same, in that, we look for a certain talent level that each position coach evaluates and gives them each a grade, which determines if he can play for us, maybe a walk-on or he may not be able to play for us at all,” Joseph said.

The class also filled many needed positions on the offensive side.

“Every year we like to have a freshman quarterback if possible, so we did that. We also needed offensive lineman, tight ends and then a full back,” Joseph said. “The staff felt that we met the needs that we need to get this program started off in the right direction.”

Matt Conner, defensive coordinator, added that there are many prerequisites that he looks for in a defensive player.

“Competitiveness is a really big deal to me: you want guys that aren’t scared to compete that crave competition. Speed, there’s no equalizer for speed, especially with the defensive routes that we run. Toughness it’s also a big thing, you don’t just want to look for the guy that can hit or tackle the best, but also not be the guy that’s going to let the moment be too big for them,” Conner said.

There was a need in the defensive line and Conner explained that the staff was able to accomplish what they needed to recruit there.

“That was the one that jumped off the screen at us when we first got here, so we went to work on day one trying to fill that need, but really all positions were really open to us,” Conner said.

Conner’s expectations for the signing class are to come in and compete.

“We’re going to put the best 11 players on the field, I think I can say this freely for coach McCorkle, we’re not in the business of keeping good football players off the field,” Conner said. “That should also be encouraging to any freshman, sophomore or and junior or senior that comes out … if you prove to us that you want to play and win games that we’re going to find a way to put you in the mix.”

He also expects the class to come in and be proud to call themselves teammates.

“I hope this group gels really quickly, you know some of the best teams I’ve been a part of are united and they know and care for each other,” Conner said. “It’s almost like starting off from scratch and really getting as close as possible. Because when adversity hits, and we all know it’s coming, they’ll be able to handle that as a group instead of individuals.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kallie Bourgeois
Kallie Bourgeois, Current Sauce - Reporter
Kallie Bourgeois is a freshman communication major, with a minor in sociology at NSU. This is her second semester as a reporter for The Current Sauce. She has had a love for storytelling since high school, where she spent a year as her school’s Editor for their newspaper. Kallie looks forward to continuing her passion for journalism by delivering stories of exciting events happening on campus and in the Natchitoches area.  

Comments (0)

All The Current Sauce • KNWD Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *