Schultz lands impressive football recruiting class

Schultz lands impressive football recruiting class

The Lamar University Cardinals signed 15 high school standouts to National Letters of Intent and added five transfers (three junior college and two FBS), announced first-year head coach Mike Schultz at a press conference in the Dauphin Athletics Complex on Feb. 1.

The signing class puts a focus on offensive talent, with 13 of the signees coming on the offensive side of the ball. LU also added six defensive players and one specialist.

“This has been a race from the get go,” said Schultz, who became LU’s second head coach since the program’s rebirth. “The first thing I needed to do was recruit the returning players; while doing that, I also had to assemble a staff, and from there, we immediately went into recruiting. We obviously got a little bit of a late start due to the situation, but I believe our staff did a great job of putting together a very competitive recruiting class in a very short period of time. This class was aided by our Texas ties and the relationships that have been built over the years by our coaches.”

The position breakdown on offense consists of five offensive linemen, four wide receivers, two running backs, a quarterback and a tight end. On the defensive side of the ball, LU added four linebackers and two defensive linemen. The Cardinals also signed a kicker on special teams.

A source of pride for the Cardinals since re-establishing the program has been their ability to keep Southeast Texas talent close to home. The 2017 class added three more Southeast Texas standouts: Reggie Boseman (Beaumont Central), Jack Dallas (West Orange-Stark) and Tyris Williams (Liberty).

“We were able to sign a few athletes from the Southeast Texas area,” said Schultz. “We’re not where we want to be there, but once we get into a full recruiting cycle, we will be a lot better off.”

The 2017 class also expanded beyond the Lone Star State. The newest members to the LU football family represent four different states including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. In addition, the Cardinals also went into the backyard of Southland rivals McNeese and Sam Houston State to sign athletes. Receiver Kirkland Banks is from Lake Charles, Louisiana, while Elvin Martinez hails from Huntsville, Texas.

One of the most prominent names on the list is West Orange-Stark quarterback Jack Dallas. A Willie Ray Smith Award winner and state championship game MVP, Dallas guided West Orange-Stark to three state championship appearances and two state titles, including a perfect 16-0 season in 2016. Dallas also guided the Mustangs to a state championship appearance on the baseball diamond, as well.

“There are certain quarterbacks who have the ‘it’ factor,” said Schultz. “The guys who have that are winners. Jack has proven that he has the ‘it’ factor. The more you watch him play, you begin to see all of the positive things he does on the field. Jack is a competitive player who always seems to find a way to win.”

The Cardinals strengthened their offensive line with the addition of five signees, including Texas State transfer Willie Williams (6-3, 285). The Cardinals’ four prep additions on the line are Humberto Lopez (6-6, 295), Micah McComb (6-5, 300), Colton Peterson (6-4, 300) and JT Vongor (6-2, 315). The offensive front was a pressing need for the Cardinals who graduated three lettermen, including two starters, following the 2016 campaign.

“I’m really excited about the offensive linemen that we have coming in,” said Schultz. “We have helped ourselves immensely in this area. These are big, physical guys that come to Lamar averaging 6-4, 300 pounds. These guys not only look the part, but they’re very talented. We couldn’t be more excited about this group.”

Lamar took some heavy and unexpected losses at running back during the offseason. All-American Kade Harrington exhausted his eligibility, and the need at running back was made more pressing by the announcement that rising sophomore Austin Krautz would not be returning for the 2017 campaign. The coaching staff was able to fill this gap with two signees, including Texas A&M transfer James White. A Pearland native with three years’ experience in the SEC, White has one year of eligibility remaining at LU. He rushed for nearly 500 yards and seven scores during his time in College Station.

The Cardinals also added Summer Creek High School standout Myles Wanza. One of the state’s most sought-after running backs, Wanza was named to the Houston Chronicle’s Top 100 following a standout prep career. Wanza rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior.

Baseball

The LU baseball team was picked to finish toward the top of the Southland Conference for the 2017 campaign by league head coaches and sports information directors.

The Cardinals, who finished last season in third place with a 35-19 record, were picked to again finish third in both polls for the 2017 season. Last season’s regular season and tournament champion Sam Houston was first in both polls, and Southeastern Louisiana was chosen second.

“I think most coaches judge this on what we did last year, and we bring back a lot from that team. It shows some of the respect that we have,” said head coach Will Davis. “Obviously we don’t want to end the year in third. We’ll be that until the year starts, and then we’ll work to get to the top.”

Lamar returns 16 letterwinners from 2016, including six starters from the regular starting lineup. Among those is preseason All-American Reid Russell and Perfect Game USA preseason all-conference Bryndan Arredondo. Both were first-team all-league winners after last year.

Back with them are seniors Cutter McDowell (.305/5 HR/28 RBI), Trey Silvers (.314/3/21) and Brendan Satran (.248/5/23). Back on the mound are seniors Jimmy Johnson (7-2/4.06 ERA/35 K) and Brett Brown (1-0, 4.75/23).

The Cards will open their season Friday, Feb. 17, in the Cardinal Classic, which features Illinois and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Cardinals will play four contests in the opening weekend and another four the next weekend against Fairfield. All eight games will be played at Vincent-Beck Stadium.

Basketball

Kiandra Bowers, who posted back-to-back double-doubles to lead the Lamar University Cardinals to a pair of wins last week, was named the Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, presented by UniversalCoin.com.

Bowers had 14 points while equaling a career high with 16 rebounds in a 66-55 win at New Orleans on Feb. 2. She followed that effort with a career-high 30 points to go along with 12 rebounds in a 79-57 victory over archrival McNeese on Feb. 4. For the week, the senior post player averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds while connecting on 63 percent of her shots (17-of-27) from the field and 71.4 percent (10-of-14) of her free-throw attempts.

Bowers is the second consecutive Cardinal to win the Player of the Week award, following teammate Moe Kinard, who was honored last week.

The Lady Cardinals (16-5 overall, 9-2 Southland) enter the week just a half-game out of first place in the conference. LU hosts Sam Houston State at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, while the men’s team (14-9, 6-4) host Sam Houston State immediately following at 7:30 p.m.

The Lady Cards go back on the road to play at Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 15 at Houston Baptist.

The Cards will play at Houston Baptist on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.

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