Signing Day: Catawba’s Hester pleased with recruits

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

By Mike London
You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge a quarterback by how he reads coverage in one game.
West Craven QB Brett Mooring, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, is the biggest name in the group of nine signees Catawba coach Chip Hester announced Wednesday.
That’s the same Mooring who tossed five picks against West Rowan in the 3A state-championship game, but it’s also the same Mooring who threw for 4,134 yards and 37 TDs as a senior and played in the Shrine Bowl.After getting a read on Mooring’s leadership skills, Hester attached greater weight to his body of work than one disastrous afternoon.
“Brett was a captain at the Shrine Bowl, and he is just such an impressive guy,” Hester said. “He has a tremendous skill set, he moves well (11 rushing TDs) and we believe we’re getting a steal. This is a guy who would’ve been an ACC recruit a few years ago.
“(Offensive coordinator and QBs coach) Matt Barrett saw Brett play the week before the West game and he looked good. You can be misled if you base too much on one off-game รณ or one great game. Brad Roach (who set records at Catawba) threw six interceptions in a championship game.”
West Rowan coach Scott Young believes Catawba acted wisely.
“Catawba asked us what we thought about Mooring because a lot of schools were backing off him after the championship game,” Young said. “I told Chip, ‘Don’t back off.’ We had film of four games, and this guy was real good in all four. We were plenty nervous going into the championship game.”
Hester believes Catawba got signatures from a talented group with no character or academic issues. Several are Beta clubbers.
Ethan Winn, 6-4, 295, and the son of a cattle farmer, is a two-time All-State player from Virginia powerhouse Gretna. Assistants Ben Hepler and Khanis Hubbard went down on the farm and got their shoes muddy to land a physical guy who could become a fixture on the O-line.
“One of our favorites from our summer camp,” Hester said. “We offered him way back when.”
Tobias Brown, 6-2, 265, is a potential D-line monster from Wilson Beddingfield. His brother, Florida State’s Everette Brown, will be an NFL draft pick in April.
“Tobias is a tremendous athlete in that mold of some of the best we’ve had,” Hester said. “Great shuttle times and runs a 4.7 40.”Cover corners are tough to find and always a signing-day priority. Catawba landed two athletic prospects in Beddingfield’s Jumal Rolle (5-11, 175) and Harding’s L.J. McCray (6-1, 180).
Rolle, who had 11 picks as a senior, returned three for TDs and will play in this summer’s East-West All-Star Game.
Record-setting running back Jamelle Cuthbertson has finished his Catawba career, but the Harding alum helped recruit McCray, who had seven picks and returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.
So many programs use the spread offense that fullbacks are a vanishing breed, but they’re still vital in Catawba’s offensive scheme. Bessemer City MVP Aaron Rainey, 6-0, 230, is an athletic fullback who can catch passes as well as perform hard-nosed blocking chores. He’s another East-West selection.
“Aaron is all business and appreciates the physical nature of football,” Hester said.
Hester believes Catawba landed the best defensive player from 4AA runner-up Fayetteville Jack Britt. Linebacker Cory Johnson, 5-11, 220, made 175 crunching tackles as a senior and was defensive MVP of the state-title game.
“Big and thick, but he can run,” Hester said. “Strong leader.”
Damien Lee, 6-3, 235, is a smart, play-making defensive end from Reidsville. He made 10 tackles and was Defensive MVP of the 2AA state-title game.
Alabama products are a rarity for the Indians, but Robbie Aldridge, 5-10, 225, brings great numbers and credentials. The All-State defensive end logged 26 sacks the last two seasons.
In addition, running back Josh Wright (Western Carolina) and former Davie linebacker Dustin Morgan (Louisburg) are transfers already enrolled at Catawba.
“You can’t evaluate any class for two years,” Hester said. “But we may have hit the jackpot.”