Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A look at Charlotte 49ers' newly signed football players

Here's a capsule look with video of the Charlotte 49ers' 17 new players -- 16 signed Wednesday on national signing day. One, offensive lineman Cameron Clark, had already signed and has enrolled in school:

Alex Barrow
WR, 5-11, 170
Ratings: 2-stars (247 Sports)
Had 46 catches for 822 yards and 11 receiving TDs as a senior with 275 rushing yards and 5 rushing TDs (1,097 total yards, 16 TDs) … Moved to Charlotte from Clemmons, where he was all-conference at West Forsyth.

Cameron Clark
OL, 6-5, 260
Greensboro Smith
Ratings: 3 stars (ESPN), 2 stars (, 247 Sports)
Already in school at Charlotte … Played in 2014 Shrine Bowl … Had 88 “pancakes” as senior and 44 as junior.

A.D. Cunningham
LB, 6-1, ; 220.
South Charleston, W. Va.
Ratings: 2 stars (Rivals)
Also as a running back in high school, running for 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.

Darren Drake
OL, 6-3, 300
McDonough (Ga.) Luella
Ratings: 3 stars (ESPN), 2 stars (Rivals, 247 sports)
Was Luella’s strongest player with combined lift total of 1,185 pounds … All-region player as a senior.

Desmond Floyd
DL, 6-5, 250
Union County (S.C.)/Wake Forest
Will have one year of eligibility as fifth-year grad student … Played three seasons at Wake Forest after redshirting his freshman year … Had 10 games with 12 tackles in 2014 ... 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks with four quarterback hurries.

Jeff Gemmell
LB, 6-3, 216
Wake Forest Heritage
Ratings: 2 stars (
Also played running back in high school and was two-way starter … Set single-season records for tackles (122) and sacks (15) last season.

Jonathan Hardy
DL, 6-4, 257
Wilmington New Hanover
Ratings: 2 stars (
Honorable mention all-Mideastern Conference … 2014 Blue-Grey all-American combine top performer.

Tyriq Harris
LB, 6-3, 215
Roanoke (Va.) Hidden Valley
Ratings: 2 stars (24/7 Sports)
Second-team all-state selection (all-purpose defense) as a senior with 87 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sack … 70 tackles, 11.0 sacks and one interception as a junior.

Michael Holmes
H-back,  6-4, 230
Victory Christian
Ratings: 3 stars (24/7 Sports)
N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III first-team all-state selection ... 856 receiving yards and six TD’s as a junior.

Darius Irvin
DB, 6-0, 184
Winter Garden (Fla.) Foundation Academy
Ratings: 2 stars (, 24/7 Sports)
70 tackles and returned a kickoff 80 yards for a TD as a senior ... Also has been a linebacker, running back, kick returner... twin brother of 2014 signee and current 49ers defensive back Denzel Irvin.

Ben Jacques
H-back, 6-6; 225
Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Wando
Ratings: 2 stars (, 24/7 Sports)
Averaged 9.0 yards per catch and had two touchdowns as senior … Lettered in football and track.

Nafees Lyon
DB, 5-10, 180
Mallard Creek
Ratings: 3 stars (24/7 Sports,,
Member of Mallard Creek’s two-time 4AA N.C. champions … Had three interceptions (one for a touchdown) and punt return for touchdown as a senior ... Six interceptions, two fumble recoveries for touchdowns and punt return as junior.

A.J. McDonald
DB, 6-0, 190
Bamberg Ehrhardt (S.C.)
Ratings: 2 stars (, 24/7 Sports)
Helped Red Raiders to the 2014 state championship game … first team all-area selection as senior, honorable mention as junior.

Nate Mullen
WR/KR/PR, 5-9, 170
Harrisburg Hickory Ridge
Ratings: 2 stars (,, 24/7 Sports)
2014 Shrine Bowl selection ... third-team all-Charlotte Observer area as a return specialist ... More than 1,500 total yards with 819 rushing  and 727 receiving …  25 touchdowns included 16 on the ground and nine through the air ... 2013 Golden Gloves Novice Division runner-up ... the son of 49ers offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen.

Akease Rankin
RB, 6-0, 210
Ratings: 2 stars (, 24/7 Sports)
Played in Shrine Bowl … Had 1,543 rushing yards as a senior with 23 touchdowns and eight 100-yard games ... averaged 140.3 yards per game and 10.0 yards per carry ... Had more than 2,100 yards and scored 21 yards as a junior.

Trevor Stacy
OL, 6-5, 300
Huntington (W.Va.) Spring Valley
Ratings: 2 stars (24/7 Sports)
Wednesday’s first signee, with  paperwork coming across at across at 7:03 a.m. ...  Three-time first-team AAA all-state selection ... 2014 Hart Award winner as the West Virginia Sports Writers Association Top lineman … Herald-Dispatch Tri-State Player of the Year and to the all-Tri-State team ... Four-year starter holds record for most starts in school history.

Randy Suydam
DL, 6-3,  245
Mallard Creek
Ratings: 2 stars (24/7 Sports)
Played for Mallard Creek’s two-time N.C. 4AA state champions ... First-team all-Observer selection who was two-year starter... Had 30 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, five sacks and two fumble recoveries as a defensive lineman.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Observations on Charlotte 49ers' 2015 football schedule

Observations on the Charlotte 49ers 2015 football schedule, which was released Monday afternoon. The 49ers' first Conference USA game will be at Middle Tennessee on Sept. 19:

-- First, the schedule (with last season's record):

Sept. 3, at Georgia State (1-11, 0-8 Sun Belt)

Sept. 12, Presbyterian (6-5, 2-3 Big South)

Sept. 19, at Middle Tennessee (6-6 5-3 C-USA

Sept. 26, Florida Atlantic (3-9, 2-6 C-USA)

Oct. 3, Temple (6-6, 4-4 AAC)

Oct. 10, BYE

Oct. 17, at Old Dominion (6-6, 4-4 C-USA)

Oct. 24, Southern Mississippi (3-9, 1-7 C-USA)

Oct. 31, Marshall (13-1, 7-1, C-USA)

Nov. 7, at Florida International (4-8, 3-5 C-USA)

Nov. 14, Texas-San Antonio (4-8, 3-5 C-USA)

Nov. 21, at Kentucky (5-7, 2-6 SEC)

Nov. 28, at Rice (8-5, 5-3 C-USA)

-- The 49ers will play in Conference USA's seven-team East Division, taking the spot vacated by Alabama-Birmingham, which discontinued football in December. There was speculation that the league would assign the 49ers what UAB's league schedule would have been based on last season -- a slate that would have included games at Marshall and Louisiana Tech, last season's two divisional champs. I'm told the 49ers lobbied hard for not that not to happen.

-- As it is, Charlotte's schedule includes the league's past three champions -- Marshall (2014) at home on Oct. 31, at Rice (2013) on Nov. 28 and Southern Miss (2011) at home on Oct. 24. The 49ers don't play Louisiana Tech.

-- The Sept. 3 date for the season opener at Georgia State in the Georgia Dome remains tentative until the NFL schedule is announced. The Panthers will be Charlotte's first against an FBS team and should be a good measuring stick. Georgia State also started football recently (in 2010), and was 1-11 in 2014 in its first season in FBS' Sun Belt Conference.

-- Aside from Georgia State, two other opponents also started football recently -- UTSA (2011) and ODU (2009). UTSA is the only school in NCAA history to make the move from FCS startup to FBS faster than Charlotte's two seasons. The Roadrunners did it after one year. 

-- Remember, the 49ers are eligible for the C-USA championship next season, but can't play in a bowl until the 2016 season.

-- No game times are set. Installation has begun on lights at Richardson Stadium. They're scheduled to be ready for the 49ers spring game on April 18.

-- Here's how the conference schedule works (courtesy Charlotte sports information):

"Each school in the (six-team) West Division will play every team in its division once for five games, while playing three cross-over opponents from the opposite division.  Three schools in the East Division will play every team in its division once for six games, while playing two cross-over opponents from the opposite division. 

"Four schools in the East Division will play five opponents in its division once for five games, while playing three cross-over opponents from the opposite division.  East Division schools playing five division games were randomly selected by a computer scheduling application and two intra-division matchups in the East will not take place this season (Charlotte-WKU and Middle Tennessee-Old Dominion)."

-- There should official word soon on two nonconference games against Power 5 conference teams -- at Tennessee in 2018 and Clemson in 2019.