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Recruiting class focuses on defense

Sporting heavy emphasis on defense, Furman football’s latest recruiting class includes 17 recruits, head coach Bruce Fowler announced on Wednesday.

The Paladins’ new crop of signees features 13 defensive players and four offensive performers. They come from six states, including five from Georgia, four from Florida, and three from Tennessee, two each from North Carolina and South Carolina, and one from Alabama.

Among Furman’s additions are seven first team all-state performers, including linebackers Byron Johnson (Swansea, S.C./Swansea H.S.) and Nic McBride (Lyons, Ga./Vidalia, Ga.), defensive end James Elliott (Franklin, Tenn./Christ Presbyterian Academy), wide receiver Logan McCarter (Sevierville, Tenn./Sevier County H.S.), quarterback Dillon Woodruff (Christiana, Tenn./Riverdale H.S.), defensive back Trey Robinson (Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman H.S.), and Jackson Buonamia (Snellville, Ga./Brookwood H.S.), who enrolled at Furman in January after spending the fall term at Air Force Prep.

Johnson, a Shrine Bowler and two-time 3A all-state selection, headlined a Swansea defense that surrendered a school record low 12.0 ppg in a 10-2 campaign this past fall.

McBride, who on Tuesday was named 2A South Georgia Defensive Player of the Year by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association, led Vidalia to an 11-1 season en route to garnering Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) all-state accolades.

The product of a 3A Christ Presbyterian Academy program coached by former Paladin quarterback great and Furman Hall of Famer Ingle Martin, Elliott helped key CPA to a 13-1 record and state playoff semifinal finish. He was named all-state by the Tennessee Sportswriters Association (TSWA).

In addition to Elliott, McCarter and Woodruff also played in the Tennessee East-West All-Star Game in December following outstanding prep careers.

McCarter, a 6A TSWA all-state choice as a wide receiver in 2011 and as a defensive back in 2012, set new school career marks for receiving yards (2,096 yards) and touchdown receptions (29). He is also an all-state performer in track & field and 2012 state runner-up in the 200m.

Woodruff, meanwhile, overcame a serious knee injury late in his junior season to account for 1,806 yards and 17 touchdowns this past fall at 6A Riverdale. A 2011 TSWA first team all-state pick, he tallied 6,431 yards total offense and registered 74 touchdown responsibilities in three seasons as a starting signal caller.

Robinson was named all-state as a quarterback at 4A Dorman this past fall, accounting for 2,809 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Buonamia collected AJC and Associated Press/Georgia Sportswriters Association 5A all-state tabs in 2011 before attending Air Force Prep for the fall semester.

In number terms, Furman’s biggest positional recruitment area was in the defensive backfield with six signees. The Paladins also inked four defensive linemen, three linebackers, two offensive linemen, a wide receiver, and a quarterback.

Nine of the 17 additions were rated as two-star recruits by and/or, and offensive lineman Aaron Black was a 3-star.

The seven first team all-state selections in this year’s class represent a significant jump over the two first team all-state picks in the Paladins’ 19-member class a year ago. In addition, 10 Furman signees played at the highest prep classification level in their respective states, with just three competing in ranks lower than 4A.


Aaron Black, OL, 6-6, 267, Fr., Dallas, Georgia (East Paulding H.S.)
Jackson Buonamia, OL, 6-2, 280, Fr., Snellville, Ga. (Brookwood High School/Air Force Prep)
James Elliott, DE, 6-2, 226, Fr., Franklin, Tenn. (Christ Presbyterian Academy)
Donovan Franks, DB, 5-11, 184, Fr., Altamonte Springs, Fla. (Lake Brantley H.S.)
Jordan Hawkins, DL, 6-1, 264, Fr., Jacksonville, Fla. (Wolfson H.S.)
Richard Hayes III, DB, 5-11, 181, Fr., Greensboro, N.C. (Dudley H.S.)
Byron Johnson, LB, 6-1, 212, Fr., Swansea, S.C. (Swansea H.S.)
Nic McBride, LB, 6-2, 203, Fr., Lyons, Ga. (Vidalia H.S.)
Logan McCarter, WR, 6-1, 168, Fr., Sevierville, Tenn. (Sevier County H.S.)
Nick Miller, DB, 5-8, 161, Fr., Kennesaw, Ga. (North Cobb H.S.)
Brad Minter, LB, 6-0, 217, Fr., Hueytown, Ala. (Hueytown H.S.)
Brian Nwokolo, DE, 6-2, 220, Fr., Jamestown, N.C. (Ragsdale H.S.)
Adekunle “AK” Olusanya, DB, 5-10, 195, Fr., Tampa, Fla. (Sickles H.S.)
Trey Robinson, DB, 6-1, 187, Fr., Spartanburg, S.C. (Dorman H.S.)
Reeves Rogers, DB, 6-0, 190, Fr., Tampa, Fla. (Plant H.S.)
DeAndre Thornton, DL, 6-0, 275, Fr., Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside H.S.)
Dillon Woodruff, QB, 6-1, 190, Fr., Christiana, Tenn. (Riverdale H.S.)

Last updated February 10, 2016
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Clinton Colmenares
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