Catawba recruiting starts strong

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 6, 2014

SALISBURY — The buzz around Catawba football is loud, and an energetic throng shoehorned its way into Classroom 109 in Goodman Gym on Wednesday to hear about coach Curtis Walker’s latest recruits.
The Indians are coming off a 6-5 season in Walker’s debut and have an exciting non-conference schedule on the table. Next season starts off with contests against Davidson and Western Carolina.
A dozen National Signing Day recruits were announced by Walker. They also are exciting.
Catawba coaches waited patiently at the fax machine early Wednesday, as signed National Letters of Intent rolled in, and their recruiting efforts were rewarded.
“All 12 national letters came in between 7:30 and noon,” Walker said. “So we could go to lunch with a smile on our faces.”
Walker is excited about all of the new Indians, but two in particular put a twinkle in his eye — 6-foot-2, 220-pound Florida quarterback Reid Carlton, and Ray Smith, a 6-2 defensive back from perennial Spartanburg, S.C., power Dorman.
Carlton is the son of Andy Carlton, who played some quarterback at Wake Forest in the early 1970s. He’s a 220-pound pocket passer with a big arm and a soft touch and he’s a 4.8ish runner.
Smith had offers from Furman, Wofford, Georgia Southern, Toledo, Liberty and some more, so getting him was quite a feat for the Indians.
“We really wanted to get taller in the secondary to help match up with some of the tall receivers in our league,” Walker said. “Smith will help us.”
Besides quarterback and DB, Catawba coaches identified positions of need as tight end, offensive line and linebacker.
“When we came in last year, we recruited to fill immediate holes,” Walker said. “This year we’re not just plugging holes, we’ve been able to look down the road a little bit.”
In other words, Catawba is getting deeper. Instead of recruiting to replace departing seniors, the Indians now are building to have replacements ready for juniors such as linebacker Jason Taylor and tight end Tyler Hamilton when it’s their time to move on.
Three of Catawba’s recruits are tight ends, while linebacker Kyle Kitchens, second-team All-State in Georgia, could make the eventual loss of Taylor a little easier to swallow.
Catawba only announced one offensive line recruit on Wednesday, but o-line coach Brian Hinson sounded thrilled to land a 280-pounder from Georgia.
Quinzavious Sands, who will be the first Quinzavious to play at Catawba, had 54 pancake blocks in 2013 and didn’t allow a single sack.
He was recruited by at least 25 schools, including Western Carolina and Georgia Southern.
“He was the top guy on our list of offensive linemen,” Hinson said. “No. 2 in the state of Georgia.”
Only two new Indians are from North Carolina.
“We cast our recruiting net pretty far,” Walker said. “We tried to find those perfect fits, and we were fortunate to land some top guys today.”
Catawba will continue to add recruits in the days to come.
“This is only the start of recruiting — not the end of it,” Walker said. “But today we signed the meat-and-potatoes of this class.”
• A list of recruits is in Scoreboard.
Livingstone info should be available for Friday’s edition.