Brick by Brick: SEMO Football built success on an incredible 2016 recruiting class

With National Signing Day being conducted by college football programs throughout the nation Wednesday, there will be a myriad of evaluations of just how good each program’s class is. However, the truth is, no one – even the involved coaches and athletes – truly have any idea at this time how each class will ultimately turn out.

The Southeast Missourian is taking the opposite approach and evaluating how the 2016 Redhawk recruiting class actually performed with a “look back” at each signee.

Over the past four seasons, Southeast Missouri State football has reached its highest point in its NCAA Division I history. That foundation was laid four years ago in early February with what has turned out to be an absolutely fantastic recruiting class.

The Redhawks coaches added student-athletes in that recruiting class that are among the best – and in the case of linebacker Zach Hall, the best – student-athletes who have ever worn the Redhawk jersey.

This group has posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in the program’s NCAA Division I era and recorded consecutive nine-win campaigns for the first time in the Redhawks’ 115-year football history.

The 2019 Ohio Valley Conference championship marked just its second in school history and first since 2010.

Southeast made its third FCS Playoff appearance and advanced to the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time ever.

The 17 seniors (these players had signed at various times over the past five seasons) comprised the winningest senior class in the school's Division I tenure. As a unit, they won 24 games, made two FCS Playoff appearances, recorded the school's first-ever playoff win, and won an OVC title.

Here is a “look back” at that very special 2016 Southeast recruiting class.

Marlon Eugene

DB, Royal Palm Beach (FL) HS

• spent 2016 as a redshirt with Redhawks

• transferred to NAIA Keiser University for 2018 season

• second-leading tackler for Keiser in 2018

• not on 2019 roster

Recruiting grade: F

Bydarrius Knighten

DB, Rosa Fort (MS) HS

• Will be 5th-year senior in 2020

• Has played 37 games and made 215 tackles with 21 pass deflections

• Was First Team All-OVC as a redshirt sophomore and Second Team as a redshirt junior in 2019

• Received Hargens Award (top defensive back) following 2019 season

Recruiting grade: A

Corey Brown

DL, Northwest Mississippi Community College

• Signed with Southeast, but ended up at Austin Peay

• Started 23 games over two seasons and was fourth for Governors in 2018 with 7 tackles for a loss

Recruiting grade: F

Clarence Thornton

DL, Ridgeway (TN) HS

• Played in 43 games over four seasons

• Registered 108 career tackles, including 47 solo

• Had 5 ½ sacks

• Was Second Team All-OVC as a junior defensive lineman

• Won the Knox Award in 2019 (top defensive lineman)

Recruiting grade: A

Brandt Selesky

FB, Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) HS

• Redshirted in 2017 and has played in 25 games over the past two seasons along the offensive line

• Has been a Southeast Scholar-Athlete twice and the Hambry Award winner twice (highest GPA on the team)

Recruiting grade: A

Jake Reynolds

P, Lafayette HS

• After redshirting in 2016, Reynolds has punted over 200 times in the past three seasons and averaged over 40 yards per kick

• 21 kicks have gone for 50-plus yards, and 146 have either been fair caught or downed inside the 20-yard line

• He earned the 2019 Mike Wood Award (top specialist)

Recruiting grade: A

Kendrick Tiller

K, Lebanon HS

• After redshirting in 2016, Tiller has made 25 of 33 field goals over the past three seasons

• He kicked a 55-yard field goal for a school record last September at Montana State

• Has been a Southeast Scholar-Athlete three times

Recruiting grade: A

Southeast Missouri State senior linebacker Zach Hall (5) closes in on Illinois State running back James Robinson (25) during a playoff game against Illinois State last season at Houck Stadium.
Tyler Graef ~ Southeast Missourian

Zach Hall

LB, Male (Ky.) HS

• Played in 48 games over four seasons

• Registered over 400 tackles (second-most in Redhawk history)

• Had 40 tackles for a loss in his career and 15 ½ sacks

• Was Second Team All-OVC as a sophomore and First Team as a junior and senior

• Was the 2018 Buck Buchannan National Defensive Player of the Year and was named to eight different All-American squads as a junior

• Made several All-American squads as a senior

• Was the Redhawks’ Defensive MVP in 2019

• Is the most accomplished Redhawk player in program history

Recruiting grade: A++

Britt Harris

LB, Kennett HS

• Played in 24 games in the past two seasons after redshirting in 2016

• Has registered 12 tackles in his career

• Southeast Scholar Athlete three consecutive years

Recruiting grade: C

Nick Thompson

LB, Malden HS

• Played in 45 games over four seasons

• Registered 36 tackles and had one interception and a pair of pass deflections

Recruiting grade: B

Victor Alvarez

LB, Oxbridge Academy (Fla.)

• Redshirted in 2016

• Transferred to NAIA Keiser University and has played for past two seasons

Recruiting grade: F

Omardrick Douglas

LB, Ballard (Ky.) HS

• Has played in 36 games over three seasons

• Registered 134 tackles, including 16 for a loss

• Had an “pick-six” against UT Martin in 2019 that helped win the game

Recruiting grade: A

Justin Swift

LB, Trezevant (Tenn.) HS

• Played in 47 games over four years

• Registered 255 tackles, including 133 solo

• Totaled 37 tackles for a loss and 18 ½ sacks

• Two-time Second Team All-OVC selection

• Was named team’s top linebacker following 2019 season

Recruiting grade: A+

Camden Boyle - LS, Lake Zurich (Ill.) HS

• Played in 36 games over three years

• Is one of brightest student-athletes in the Redhawk program (majoring in engineering physics)

• Key component to very strong punt game for Southeast

• Brings energy and toughness to special teams with his passion and pursuit of the ball carrier

Recruiting grade: A

Mike Brown

OL, Armwood (Fla.) HS

• OL redshirted in 2016

• Transferred to Ellsworth Community College for two seasons (2017 and 2018)

• Played 2019 at NCAA Division II Missouri Southern

Recruiting grade: F

Jesse Hosket

QB, East Central Community College

• Played in 22 games over two years

• Threw for 4,155 yards and 26 touchdowns, while throwing just 15 interceptions

• All-OVC Newcomer Team

Recruiting grade: A

Austin Crump

TE, Eureka HS

• After redshirting (2016) and not seeing game action (2017), Crump exploded onto the scene in 2018

• Played in 22 games over past two years

• Battled injury in 2019 after being hurt just before training camp

• Has caught 14 passes for three scores in his career

• Southeast scholar-athlete

• Coach Matukewicz said prior to 2019 season Crump was “the best tight end in the conference.”

Recruiting grade: A

Traionn Jones

WR, Oxbridge Academy (Fla.)

• Redshirted in 2016

• Played in six games as a running back in 2017, gained 14 yards

• Transferred to NAIA Keiser University (Fla.)

• Has played in 21 games over last two seasons at Keiser

Recruiting grade: D

Zack Smith

WR, Male (Ky.) HS

• Played in 37 games over three years

• Caught 95 passes for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns

• Has returned 27 kickoffs and 37 punts for nearly 1,000 combined yards

Recruiting grade: A

Al Young

WR, Cape Central HS

• Played in 31 games over four years

• Medical redshirt following Achilles injury mid-season 2019

• Moved to CB and has made 56 tackles and picked off five passes

Recruiting grade: A

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