Citadel working hard to catch up in football recruiting

Dantez Bennamon has offers from El Cid, PC & Furman

Dantez Bennamon has offers from El Cid, PC & Furman

By : Jeff Hartsell the Charleston Post & Courier

When Mike Houston was hired as The Citadel’s new football coach on Jan. 9, he said the Bulldogs were “behind” in recruiting.With signing day looming next Wednesday, Houston said Friday he’s happy with the progress his staff has made in catching up. “We’re trying to do an eight-month process in the span of three weeks,” said Houston, who was hired from Lenoir-Rhyne to replace departed coach Kevin Higgins. “So it’s been very challenging. But I’m pleased with what we’ve been able to do in a short period of time.”

The Citadel has verbal commitments from 12 players, and Houston said he expects to sign more than 20 to national letters of intent on Wednesday. “We expect to sign a full class, somewhere in the low 20s,” he said. A couple of intriguing prospects still have yet to make a decision, both of them two-sport stars that could make a big difference in Houston’s first recruiting class at The Citadel.

Goose Creek High School’s Dantez Bennamon said last week that he had been offered by The Citadel. He plays quarterback for the Gators’ football team and point guard on the basketball team. He’s also had interest from Presbyterian and Furman, among others.

Shy Phillips of Hartsville, a standout outfielder, had been committed to The Citadel for baseball for about a year. But after a stellar senior season in football – he made the Shrine Bowl as a defensive back – he began receiving more attention in that sport. On Friday, the Florence Morning News reported that Phillips has opened his recruiting back up and is now considering offers to play baseball and football from The Citadel along with Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern and Western Carolina.

At his introductory news conference, Houston said that quarterbacks and offensive linemen would be key to this class. The Bulldogs have only two quarterbacks, rising senior Aaron Miller and redshirt freshman Cam Jackson, currently on the roster. On the offensive line, four senior starters are gone from last year’s 5-7 team. Three of the current 12 commitments are quarterbacks, including Jauveer Hammond of Strom Thurmond High School in Johnston; Jalen Lampkin of Westside HS in Augusta; and Devon Mines from Pelham, Ala. Any of them could likely play slotback or another position in the triple option if they don’t stick at quarterback.

On the offensive line, commitments include Tristan Harkleroad (6-2, 275) of Savannah; Sydney Martin (6-2, 252) of state power Byrnes High School; Kyle Mauk (6-1, 244) of Bradenton, Fla; and Houston Tyler (6-1, 251) of Moore, Okla. Prospects reportedly in for visits this weekend include lineman Jon King (6-2, 240) of Statesville, N.C., and running back Reggie Benjamin (5-10, 190) of Melbourne, Fla.

However this first class turns out, Houston said he’s confident he can recruit to win at The Citadel.
“When you come in, you inherit what you inherit,” he said. “There are lots of things we want to change, and we want to do that as quickly as possible. But you’ve got to go through the process. I think there’s a certain niche of player we can recruit here at The Citadel, and I have no doubt we can do that and be successful.”


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