Pearl River football adds 27 on National Signing Day
Published 11:17 am Thursday, February 2, 2023
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Fresh off one of the best seasons in recent history, the Pearl River football team has announced the addition of 27 new Wildcats for the 2023 campaign on Wednesday.
This year’s newcomers include Pascagoula’s Joshua Battles, Theodore’s (Ala.) Travis Bendolph, Gulfport’s Emmanuel Bentley, Petal’s Amari Butler, Harding transfer Tyrus Burton, Laurel’s Javonta Caldwell and Quandarius Keyes, St. Joseph’s Robert Clark, Picayune’s Jessiah Contee and Darnell Smith, Lafayette’s Kylan Egerson, Canton’s Jadarius Gordon, American Christian Academy’s (Ala.) Keyshawn Graham, Bay Springs’ Tyrice Holloway, East Central’s Jared Huff and Gavin Trochessett, Destrehan’s (La.) Amare Johnson, Natchez’s Landen Sewell, Poplarville’s Tucker Smith, Nakeil Trotter, Mark Will and Matthew Will, West Jones’ Kaden Stevison, Southern University transfer Y’Quann Townsend, Harrison Central’s Christian Turner, Alexander’s (Ga.) Jordan Watts and Port Allen’s (La.) Braylon White.
“The goal was to bring guys in that can help us build on the successes of last year’s sophomore class,” Pearl River coach Seth Smith said. “We were fortunate to have a great year last year, so recruiting has been great. We’ve made sure to bring kids in that fit just like those that we had previously. We’ve done our due diligence and feel like every kid we are bringing in fills a need.”
Smith talked about the work of his assistants throughout the recruiting process. His coaching staff includes defensive coordinator Ty Trahan, offensive coordinator David Chatham, running backs coach A.J. Davis, defensive backs coach Ta’Ron Sims, receivers coach Walker Mosby, defensive line coach Lorenzo Breland and defensive assistant Chase Cooley.
“A tremendous amount of film study, travel and time goes into this,” Smith said. “Our coaches do a great job of not only putting in the work to get great players but also to get great players who fit our program. We’re extremely excited about the 2023 class.”
Bentley carried the load in the Gulfport Admiral rushing attack his senior season, scoring 11 rushing touchdowns and rushing for 902 yards on 144 carries. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
Clark was a force on both the offensive and defensive line during his time at St. Joseph. At season’s end, Clark was named to the 2022 MAIS Class 5A Team as an offensive lineman.
He accounted for 36 total tackles and eight tackles for a loss. Clark finished his high school career with 75 total tackles.
Sewell was an integral part of an offensive line at Natchez High School that accumulated 3,202 total yards and 33 touchdowns. The Bulldogs averaged 26 points per game during Sewell’s senior season.
Stevison was a member of a West Jones offensive line that helped the Mustang office average 26.5 points per game in the 2022 season.
Turner had a stellar career at Harrison Central. As a senior, he passed for 1994 yards and 14 touchdowns. He added another 386 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
For his career, Turner accumulated 6,643 passing yards and added 1,067 yards rushing with 70 career touchdowns, 60 passing and 17 rushing.
Turner represented the South in the 2022 Bernard Blackwell Classic.
The 6-foot-1 defensive lineman Bendolph will come to Pearl River and immediately impact the defensive line. Hailing from perennial powerhouse Theodore, Bendolph finished his senior campaign with 79 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Johnson will stay a Wildcat after playing his high school football for the Destrehan Fighting Wildcats. He finished with 33 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, half a sack and hurries. He was named All-District in 2022.
White will bring some size to the Wildcat defense standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 260 pounds. At Port Allen last year, White collected 30 tackles, 13 TFLs, seven sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Trotter will play for his hometown team, coming to The River from Poplarville. He collected a remarkable 123 tackles, two forced fumbles, one interception and one sack as a senior.
Trotter was named to the Bernard Blackwell South All-Star team. He was also named Capital Sports First Team Defense.
Another Poplarville product, Mark Will was a big-time presence for the Hornets at linebacker. As a senior, he averaged 9.3 tackles per game and 111 in total. He broke up three passes, blocked a field goal and recovered one fumble.
Matthew Will gets to continue to play alongside his twin brother, Mark. He played quarterback for the Hornets last season, finishing the year with 471 passing yards and six touchdowns. He also added 499 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
As a junior, Will played more on the defensive side of the ball, finishing with eight tackles, one interception and one pass deflection.
Will is set to convert to linebacker upon his arrival on campus.
Defensive back Kylan Egerson should be a difference-maker in the Pearl River secondary next season. His senior year at Lafayette saw him tally 57 tackles, six TFLs, three interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also spent some time on offense, carrying the ball 27 times for 135.
He was named Capital Sports Second Team All-State after the season ended.
Holloway comes to PRCC fresh off helping his Bay Springs Bulldogs capture the 1A State title. The 6-foot-3 defensive back finished the campaign with 37 tackles, one sack and one interception.
His length should be a big asset for the Wildcat secondary.
Butler was a standout two-way player for Petal during his senior season. In 2022, Butler had 20 tackles, two TFLs, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one sack. Quarterbacks didn’t complete many passes on the 5-foot-10 cornerback as he picked up nine pass breakups on the year.
Butler also contributed one receiving touchdown and returned a pair of kickoffs for scores.
Keyes was another two-way player in high school, making an impact as a receiver and a defensive back. On offense, he hauled in 35 catches for 536 yards and 12 touchdowns. Defensively, Keyes finished with 14 tackles, three pass breakups and three interceptions
Graham was a workhorse for the American Christian Academy backfield in 2022. Graham had 1,461 yards on 156 carries with a 9.36 yards per carry average. Graham scored 27 touchdowns and zero fumbles in 2022.
Towsend transfers to Pearl River after spending last season at Southern University. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver hauled in one catch for 38 yards, featuring in two games.
Townsend played his high school football at John Ehret in New Orleans, La.
At 6-foot-3, 330 pounds, Battles will help fortify the Wildcat offensive line with some size. Battles played his high school football at Pascagoula.
Watts comes to PRCC after a productive career at Alexander in Georgia. In his senior season, he had 30 receptions for 954 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10 Watts averaged a whopping 31.8 yards per catch.
Burton spent last season at Harding University. Before playing for the Bison, Burton was a two-time All-State, All-Region and Sun Herald All-South player at Pascagoula. He was also selected to play in the Magnolia State All-Star game.
Caldwell will be a versatile option for the Wildcats, coming from Laurel. While he mostly featured as a quarterback for the Golden Tornados, Caldwell will be classified as an athlete at Pearl River.
He finished his senior season with 1,217 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. On the ground, Caldwell rushed for 759 yards and 10 scores on 97 carries.
Contee was a two-way player for the back-to-back 5A State Champion Picayune High School. On offense, Contee had eight receptions for 283 yards and three touchdowns his senior year. On defense, he had 53 total tackles and five interceptions in 2022.
Another 5A State Champion, Smith was a member of a loaded Picayune backfield. Smith rushed for 473 yards and six touchdowns his senior season. For his career, Smith amassed 1,205 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns with a career average of 7.2 yards per carry.
As a senior, Smith compiled 71 total tackles, 39 solo, for the Poplarville Hornets. Smith was named to the 2022 MAC 4A Second-Team All-State and was a member of the 2022 Bernard-Blackwell South Team.
Smith is slated to play tight end and H-back for the Wildcat offense.
A running back during his time at East Central, Trochessett will look to help the Wildcat offense with the offensive line and tight end positions.
During his senior season, Trochessett had 14 rushes for 77 yards and one touchdown.
Huff will look to make the move from defense to the offensive side of the ball for the Wildcats. At East Central, Huff tallied 234 total career tackles for the Hornets, 101 during his senior campaign.
Huff will play tight end and H-back for the Wildcats.
Gordon was a difference-maker for Canton as a senior. The defensive back finished the year with 25 tackles, two TFLs and four pass breakups.
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