AP Sports Writer
The UAB Blazers loaded up on junior college players and signed Alabama’s Mr. Football in their return to national signing day.
The Blazers added 18 players to about the same number of mid-year enrollees on Wednesday, replenishing a roster that’s still some 19 months away from taking the field.
It’s another step in coach Bill Clark’s forced reinvention of UAB football after the program was eliminated in December 2014 before getting revived.
“It goes without saying that this is an exciting day for us,” Clark said. “This is the day everybody kind of looks forward to in the recruiting world. For us it is beyond just a big day. It’s another signal to where our program is headed.”
Clark talked about each signee while their highlights played on a screen behind him.
He and his staff then attended a signing day party with fans at a local restaurant. There’s certainly more for UAB fans and staff to celebrate on this signing day than last when the program had been shuttered in a cost-cutting move.
The Wednesday group included 11 junior college transfers. That, Clark said, was by design.
“We felt like we needed to get older,” he said. “Anytime you’re replacing your whole roster you don’t want to send a bunch of freshmen out against juniors and seniors even though we have a year before we play.”
The Blazers’ first game will come in September 2017. Clark said many of the players the coaches signed received other offers, including some from programs in Power 5 conferences.
“We feel like we’ve got guys ready made to come in and play, and that’s what we needed,” Clark said.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: RB Greg Bryant (early enrollee) began his college career as a highly regarded prospect at Notre Dame.
Best of the rest: QB Tyler Johnston, RB DJ Law, WR Ronnie Turner, WR Xavier Ubosin.
Late addition: Most of the UAB signees had been committed for a while.
One that got away: While no team gets all the players they covet, coach Bill Clark believes UAB “got guys ready made to come in and play.”
How they’ll fit in: This group as a whole represents a sizable starting point in UAB’s rebuilding job, though the roster will almost certainly go through significant subtraction and addition before the 2017 opener against Alabama A&M. Eleven of the Wednesday signees are junior college transfers. Johnston was Alabama’s Mr. Football last season after leading Spanish Fort High School to a 35-0 record as a starter and two Class 6A state titles.