WARRENSBURG, Mo. (Press Release)- The University of Central Missouri Mules football team and head coach Jim Svoboda have announced their 2016 recruiting class. The class includes 31 high school student-athletes who will be joining the program in the fall and three transfer student-athletes who are already enrolled at UCM.
Speaking about this year’s class, Head Coach Jim Svoboda said, “I’m extremely proud of the 2016 recruiting class. It’s not only a superb collection of players with impressive athletic credentials, but it can also boast an average GPA of 3.2. All the credit goes to the tireless efforts of Kyle Westphal, our Recruiting Coordinator, and the rest of our assistant coaches for finding these outstanding student-athletes who had many options other than UCM.”
The Mules are coming off an 8-3 season in 2015 and a third place finish in the MIAA standings. It marked the ninth straight winning season in program history and the 17th in the last 18 years.
Student-athletes who have committed to Central Missouri are as follows:
6-3 * 270 * OL
Montezuma, Iowa/Iowa Western CC
Barker was an All-Conference honoree at Iowa Western Community College, helping his club to a pair of regional championships and two Kinney Cup titles and a spot in the 2014 national championship game … was a three-time All-District and two-time All-State honoree for head coach Tyler Baethke at Montezuma High School … also lettered in baseball, basketball, and track & field … won conference title in baseball and was a state qualifier in track &field … was an Academic All-Conference honoree in high school and earned Dean’s List honors at Iowa Western … played in the Iowa Shrine Bowl.
UCM head coach Jim Svoboda on Barker, “Kane plays hard every snap and we love his athleticism and how he finishes blocks. He played well against outstanding competition for a strong program.”
6-4 * 270 * OL
Eldon, Mo./Eldon HS
Baucom was a two-time First Team All-Conference offensive lineman for head coach Shannon Jolley at Eldon High School … was a two-time First Team All-District honoree on both the offensive and defensive lines … earned two All-State honors on the offensive line … helped his team to a pair of district titles … also lettered in basketball earning All-District accolades.
Svoboda on Baucom, “Graham is athletic and versatile along the offensive line. A decorated multi-sport athlete and a good student. He can play all three spots on the offensive line.”
6-6 * 220 * TE
Jefferson City, Mo./Helias HS
Bax earned All-District honors at three different positions while playing for head coach Tim Rulo at Helias Catholic High School … he was an All-District linebacker as a junior and earned All-District honors at wide receiver and defensive end as a senior … he also lettered in basketball and baseball, earning two All-District honors in basketball … helped his team to a football district title as a junior and a basketball district crown and third place finish at the state tournament as a sophomore … was an Academic All-State honoree as a senior …a member of the Honor Roll and National Honor Society … is the younger brother of former Mules’ All-MIAA defensive end David Bax.
Svoboda on Bax, “A tremendous athlete who excels at a number of positions in football as well as being a standout basketball player. He really has it all; Ball skills, blocking and route running. Adam will add to our tradition of great tight ends.”
6-3 * 250 * OL
Belton, Mo./Belton HS
Begaye was a First Team All-Conference offensive lineman for head coach Todd Vaughn and Belton High School … also earned Academic honors and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Svoboda on Begaye, “Jordon is exactly the type of lineman we’ve had here that has developed into an outstanding player. Rangy, smart, tough and a hard worker.”
5-10 * 170 * S
Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs HS
Bell was a First Team All-Conference, All-District and All-State honoree for head coach Kelly Donohoe and Blue Springs High School … also earned Second Team All-Metro accolades … helped his team to runner-up finishes in the conference and district.
Svoboda on Bell, “Codie blew us away when he tested on his visit. He’s a bit undersized but is extremely explosive and hard nosed. We like that he starred for a program with such great tradition.”
6-4 * 205 * QB
Hoffman Estates, Ill./James B. Conant HS
Bradley was an All-Conference, All-Area, and Honorable Mention All-State player as a quarterback for head coach Bill Modelski … earned the Joe Gugliotta Award for spirit, dedication and character … was also an All-Conference honoree in basketball and helped his team to a regional championship.
Svoboda on Bradley, “Kyle is following in our recent success recruiting athletic quarterbacks. He is a polished, accurate passer, ahead of most of the kids we evaluated in that regard. We think he’s just scratching the surface.”
6-3 * 275 * OL
Memphis, Tenn./Memphis East HS
Brookins was a two-time First Team All-District selection and earned Best of Prep Class 3A-4A distinction, while playing for head coach Marcus Wimberly at Memphis East High School … he helped his squad to a Region 8 Championship in 2015 and was an AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game participant.
Svoboda on Brookins, “Jesse is the best lineman in space that we evaluated. He’s like a big cat and hustles every play. After watching him just a few plays you can tell he has great passion for the game.”
Duane Clayton II
6-0 * 170 * CB
Kansas City, Mo./Lincoln College Prep
Clayton was an All-Conference, All-District and Second Team All-State honoree at cornerback for head coach Henry Newell at Lincoln College Prep … he helped lead his team to a conference championship … also lettered in basketball, helping his squad to a district title.
Svoboda on Clayton, “Duane will be one of those stories of a kid who was a late bloomer with raw talent that made himself into a great player. He’s long and can run.”
6-0 * 200 * LB
Webb City, Mo./Webb City HS
Crane was a two-time All-Conference, All-District and All-State honoree at linebacker for head coach John Roderique at Webb City High School … he was the All-Conference and All-Area Defensive Player of the Year last year … helped lead his team to three conference championships, three district titles and two state championships … high school teammate of Zach Davidson.
Svoboda on Crane, “Kolesen is a striker. He plays the position like it’s suppose to be played, runs through people on his tackles but also has great cover skills. A dominant player on a talent-laden team that is a perennial power.”
6-7 * 220 * TE/P
Webb City, Mo./Webb City HS
Davidson was a First Team All-Conference, All-District and All-State selection for head coach John Roderique at Webb City High School … helped lead his team to three conference championships, three district titles and two state championships … high school teammate of Kolesen Crane.
Svoboda on Davidson, “The most intriguing kid in this year’s class, Zach can punt the ball out of the stadium, which is where he got most of his accolades yet is hardly just a punter. Has a great frame at 6’7″ and can run. Watched him play basketball and he had 2 dunks in the first four minutes. His future will be fun to watch.”
6-1 * 185 * QB
Carl Junction, Mo./Carl Junction HS
Devore was a two-time All-Conference, All-Area and All-District selection at quarterback for head coach Doug Buckmaster and Carl Junction High School … he also earned All-Conference honors as a punter … led his team to two undefeated conference championships … also lettered in basketball and baseball, earning All-Conference honors as a pitcher and All-District honors as an outfielder … helped the basketball team to two conference and district titles and one district and sectional championship for baseball … earned two Academic letters as well.
Svoboda on Devore, “One word for this kid: winner. Pretty much excels at anything he sets his mind to. Ryan was a multi-sport star who will play quarterback to start with but can play a lot of positions.”
6-1 * 220 * LB
Shorewood, Ill./Montini Catholic HS
Embrey was the Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Montini Catholic High School, playing for head coach Chris Andriano … was the Chicago Catholic League Player of the Year, registering 116 tackles and 18 tackles for loss as a senior … he also earned Dupage County All-Area, Illinois First Team All-State and Esmark All-American honors … was a Dupage County All-Area and an Honorable Mention All-State honoree as a junior … helped his team to four state playoff appearances, including state titles in 2012 and an undefeated state crown in 2015 … team earned runner-up finishes during his sophomore and junior campaigns … also earned All-Conference honors in track & field … was a four-year member of the High Honor Roll.
Svoboda on Embrey, “One of the most decorated players in the Chicago area and that is quite a statement. John is powerful, fast, smart and arrives with a bad attitude. A star on a state championship team who could make an early impact for the Mules.”
6-4 * 270 * OL
Kansas City, Mo./Park Hill HS
Grant was a First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-District honoree on the offensive line for head coach Josh Hood at Park Hill High School … helped his team to conference and district championships and a spot in the state quarterfinals.
Svoboda on Grant, “Jamar probably has the most upside of all our recruits. He is young and still growing. If you combine that with his great feet and aggressiveness in two or three years you will have a special player.”
6-5 * 240 * DE
St. Louis, Mo./Miami (Ohio)
Hardwick was the MCC Defensive Player of the Year for St. John Vianney High School and head coach Paul Day … he was a First Team All-State, All-Metro and All-Conference selection and recorded the second most sacks in Missouri state history … he also lettered in basketball and helped his team to two district championships and a fourth place finish at the state tournament as a sophomore … he redshirted last season at Miami (Ohio).
Svoboda on Hardwick, “Jordon is a prototypical defensive end. He is tall and rangy with a non stop motor. A year in our great weight program could produce a beast.”
6-5 * 250 * TE
Wildwood, Mo./St. John Vianney HS
Heath played his high school ball for head coach Paul Day at St. John Vianney High School.
Svoboda on Heath, “We feel like Parker has the perfect frame and growth potential to play a number of positions for the Mules. He had the misfortune of getting injured early in his senior season and sort of got lost in the recruiting shuffle. Fortunately, Coach Clemens kept in touch with Parker and we found a fit late in the recruiting process.”
6-2 * 300 * OL
Lexington, Tenn./Lexington HS
Hicks was an offensive lineman for head coach Bryant Hollingsworth at Lexington High School.
Svoboda on Hicks, “Michael is a big, powerful lineman that dominated his level of play. Already a 400 lb bencher, he has the physicality to play early in his career. Tough kid with a great attitude.”
6-0 * 170 * WR
Kansas City, Mo./Hogan Prep
A three-year varsity letter winner for head coach Phil Lascuola at Hogan Prep … earned All-District honors at defensive back as a senior … also lettered in wrestling and track & field, qualifying for the state track meet in the 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays … high school teammate of Anthony Johnson.
Svoboda on High, “Damonte adds to our list of outstanding players from Hogan Prep. Right now he’s a bit slight but he can run and turn. Once he gets into a year-round strength program he’s got a chance to be an excellent MIAA player.”
5-10 * 170 * WR
Richton Park, Ill./Rich Central HS
Hunt was an All-Conference and Second Team All-Area performer for head coach Terrell Alexander at Rich Central High School … also lettered in track & field, earning All-Conference and All-State accolades … plans to compete in track & field at UCM as well … a member of the Gold Honor Roll and the National Honor Society.
Svoboda on Hunt, “The definition of ‘student-athlete’. An honors student, Franklin has legitimate track speed as a 10.7 sprinter and has great hands as well as return ability. Exciting would be the word to describe this super-talented kid. The Mule fans will learn his name early.”
6-2 * 185 * S
Kansas City, Kan./Washington HS
Jackson was an All-Conference defensive back and All-Conference wide receiver last season for head coach Scott Strenk, helping his team a conference championship in 2013.
Svoboda on Jackson, “Damon has the length, speed and suddenness to play on either side of the ball. He’s just a kid you want in your program because you know at some point he will play a major role. Another one of our many good students in this class.”
Anthony Johnson Jr.
6-1 * 215 * DL
Kansas City, Mo./Hogan Prep
Johnson was a two-year letter winner for head coach Phil Lascuola at Hogan Prep … was named a Kauffman Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society … high school teammate of Damonte High.
Svoboda on Johnson, “AJ is a sleeper in this class. We like his work ethic and toughness. One of those kids that will earn his way onto the field.”
6-1 * 190 * S
Hanover Park, Ill./Lake Park HS
Was a two-time All-Conference honoree playing safety for head coach Chris Roll at Lake Park High School … high school teammate of Dylan Scheirich.
Svoboda on Mitchell, “A tremendous safety that fills hard on the run and displays great cover skills. One of the most impressive kids we saw on film. Jontrell possesses all the skills you look for in that position and plays with abandon.”
6-1 * 240 * DL
Memphis, Tenn./Memphis East HS
Moore was a First Team All-Conference and All-State defensive lineman for head coach Marcus Wimberly at Memphis East High School … high school teammate of Devante Turner.
Svoboda on Moore, “Irana hails from a big time program in the state of Tennesee. He has long arms and plays with leverage and tenacity. Walks plays down from behind and flies around to the whistle.”
6-4 * 180 * WR
Warrensburg, Mo./Warrensburg HS
Nappe was a First Team All-Conference wide receiver for head coach Scott Grinde and Warrensburg High School in his only season of football … also lettered in basketball, helping the Tigers to a conference title during his sophomore season … selected for the Missouri Lions Club All-Star Game … a four-year member of the Honor Roll.
Svoboda on Nappe, “With only one year of high school football, Gunny had an impressive debut for the Tigers this past season. We are not quite sure what to do with him, which is a good thing, because he could play a number of positions based on how his body transforms. Right now he is a long, lean kid who can run and hit and we can build on that.”
6-3 * 185 * WR
St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell Central HS
Puni was a Second Team All-Conference honoree as a wide receiver for head coach Pete Eberhardt at Francis Howell Central High School … also lettered in basketball and track … younger brother of current Mules’ offensive lineman Derrick Puni.
Svoboda on Puni, “Devin is one of those kids that is probably two years behind growth wise which sort of runs in his family. We had him in camp a couple of years and he is just a ball player. When his body catches up he will be on the field.”
6-5 * 230 * TE
Renner was a First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-District honoree during his senior season at Harrisonville High School … he was a Second Team All-Conference pick as a sophomore … also lettered in basketball, earning three All-Conference honors including a first team nod as a senior when he also earned All-District accolades … helped his football team to a pair of conference and district championships and an appearance in the state semifinals … helped basketball team to three conference crowns and two district titles.
Svoboda on Renner, “Brice transferred to us at semester and will have to sit out this fall. He’s got a great frame, feet and natural strength. He’ll play but I’m just not sure where.”
6-0 * 175 * WR
Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS
Sass was a First Team All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-State honoree as a senior at Brandon High School while playing for head coach Dean Eychner … earned Second Team All-Conference honors as a junior … also lettered in track & field.
Svoboda on Sass, “We like Ryan’s speed, naturally soft hands and his ability to get in and out of cuts. In a state full of speed, Ryan stood out on a team and league that plays great high school football. He is also a standout in the class room.”
6-3 * 265 * OL
Roselle, Ill./Lake Park HS
Scheirich was an All-Conference and Academic All-Conference honoree on the offensive line for head coach Chris Roll at Lake Park High School … was an All-State honoree in track & field for head coach Bob Nihells, placing third in the state in the shot put … plans to compete in both football and track & field at UCM … high school teammate of Jontrell Mitchell.
Svoboda on Scheirich, “Ryan is exactly the type of offensive lineman we try to target in the recruiting process; overall athletic, growth potential, intelligence and toughness. He throws the shot over 58′ illustrating his explosiveness and hips. Toss in his outstanding academics and you got a dude.”
6-1 * 170 * S
Broadview, Ill./Proviso East
Terry was an All-Conference honoree at safety while playing for head coach Thomas Williams at Proviso East High School.
Svoboda on Terry, “Spend five minutes with this kid and you will be convinced that he will be a success. He’s a terrific athlete that can play anywhere in the secondary but what makes him special is his attitude. A leader in the making.”
5-9 * 190 * RB
Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven HS
Thompson earned Second Team All-Region honors competing for head coach Rodney Saulsberry and Whitehaven High School … was a part of Tennessee 6A State Championship team … also lettered in track & field.
Svoboda on Thompson, “Ayron is an all-around athlete who came to us later on in the recruiting process that we couldn’t pass up. Star player for the state champs.”
6-3 * 265 * OL
Omaha, Neb./Westside HS
Timmons was a three-year varsity letter winner on the offensive line for head coach Brett Froendt at Westside High School, earning All-Conference and All-District honors … he helped his squad to three state playoff appearances, including a runner-up finish his sophomore season and a quarterfinal appearance as a senior … also earned three letters as a thrower for the track & field team … was a four-year member of the Honor Roll.
Svoboda on Timmons, “We had Brian in camp and fell in love with him then. Toughest kid in there and a relentless competitor. To play three years for Omaha Westside, a high-quality program in football-rugged Omaha, says a lot about his ability. He’s a competitor in the classroom too.”
5-9 * 170 * RB
Memphis, Tenn./Memphis East HS
Turner was an All-Metro selection at running back for head coach Marcus Wimberly at Memphis East High School … also earned Best of Prep honors … high school teammate of Irana Moore.
Svoboda on Turner, “Devante is a multi-purpose player that displays break away speed. He scored a lot of TD’s many of which were long distance. Nearly impossible to bring down 1 on 1 and can catch the ball as well. On top of that, an A-student.”
6-3 * 275 * DL
St. Joseph, Mo./Benton HS
Udom was a First Team All-Conference, All-City, All-Region and Second Team All-State honoree on the defensive line for head coach Matt Tabor and Benton High School … was an Honor Roll student and a member of the National Honor Society.
Svoboda on Udom, “Ubong is another kid that we had in camp that was impressive. He’s very powerfully built, has long arms and plays fast. Gets off blocks and finds the ball. Terrific kid and a 4.0 student.”
6-0 * 175 * RB
Warrensburg, Mo./Warrensburg HS
Was named Offensive MVP and earned All-Conference honors as a running back during his senior season at Warrensburg High School playing for head coach Scott Grinde … earned two All-District honors as a quarterback during his sophomore and junior seasons at Floresville High School in Texas … was a First Team Academic All-District honoree in Texas and helped his team to a district championship.
Svoboda on Wilkerson, “Had the pleasure of seeing Koby play a number of times. Has tremendous balance, vision, hips and hands. Can cut 90 degrees running full speed and seems to have a couple of extra eyeballs near the back of his head. He’s fun to watch.”
6-3 * 280 * DT
Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook HS
Winston was a First Team All-SWSC Conference honoree and was named Most Valuable Defensive Lineman as a senior playing for John Ivlow at Bolingbrook High School … was a three-year varsity letter winner and earned Defensive MVP honors as a sophomore … helped lead his team to three playoff appearances and a spot in the IHSA Class 8A Quarterfinals as a junior.
Svoboda on Winston, “Dalen dominated at his position at one of the best 8A programs in the state. Plays hard, fast, aggressive and disruptive. Could be special.”