Cards able to land big class in midst of staff changes

Published 7:24 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lamar offensive coordinator Chuck Langston will remember this National Signing Day for the rest of his life.

Not just because Lamar’s signing class of 22 ranked as third-best among Football Championship Subdivision teams by It’s mainly because his son Christian is now a Cardinal.

“It’s going to be a great experience for me as a dad, obviously, to be able to coach his son in college,” Chuck Langston said before Christian’s signing ceremony Wednesday at Port Neches-Groves High School. “I told him as a young boy, if he could deep snap, that would be a valuable, valuable position.”

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Christian Langston, who also played on the defensive line at PN-G, excelled at the key special teams position and will compete for the starting role at Lamar.

Chuck Langston also has reason to celebrate because the Cardinals — who finished 5-6 last season — ended up with a high-ranking class in the midst of departures of three assistant coaches. Defensive line coach and former Howard head coach Carey Bailey is now at Chattanooga in the same position, following the departure of interim defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mark Criner and retired DC Craig McGallion. Trey Haverty was hired last week as Lamar’s new DC from Texas Tech.

“That was tough,” Langston said. “Everybody had to step up and do a great job of manning other people’s positions. It was tough, but we got a lot of hard-working guys that do a great job. Coach [Ray] Woodard was all over criss-crossing the state.”

Lamar now has 28 for the incoming class of 2016, including six transfers (four mid-year). Among them is former Port Arthur Memorial standout and Texas Tech defensive back Jalen Barnes, who left the team ahead of the Red Raiders’ Texas Bowl game against LSU.

“We liked him in high school,” Woodard said during Wednesday’s signing day watch at Lamar. “We’ve known him all the time. The fact he can be here at mid-term and get to know our team and participate in spring ball will really help him. I feel good about him and we’ll have a great feel for him.”

Another on-campus transfer, former Miami wide receiver Clayton Turner, has joined the big quarterback race that includes PN-G senior Adam Morse and returnees Carson Earp, Blake McKenzie and Brett Cox. Earp shared starting duties with grad student Joe Minden in 2015.

“He wanted to transfer out of there because he wanted to play quarterback,” Woodard said. “He didn’t go there to play receiver.”

Statistics were unavailable for Turner, a 6-foot-4, 210-pounder who was a redshirt sophomore this past fall for the Hurricanes. Turner played two years at Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York.

But as is his expectation for all incoming Cardinals, Woodard thinks Morse can be a big contributor in college.

“I think he’s got a chance to be a very good quarterback for a long period of time,” Woodard said. “You come in and earn the spot, you’ll get it. … I think he’s so competitive, that’ll be his mindset going in.”

Among Lamar’s 22 high school signees, 14 are from Southeast Texas (counting the Houston area), including Hamshire-Fannett athlete Kendrick King and Lumberton tight end Mason Sikes. Lamar also landed two three-star signees in DeSoto safety Caleb Abrom and Blinn College safety Jaylon Bowden, who’s from Brenham.

Abrom’s signing was a result of Lamar’s success in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, to which Woodard attributed running back Kade Harrington’s candidacy for National Offensive Player of the Year award during FCS championship week in Frisco.

“I think the notoriety Kade got put us in the Dallas market and other areas around the state more than we have,” Woodard said.

But the Cardinals still strengthened their imprint in Southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana in direct competition with Southland Conference champion McNeese State and NCAA Division I semifinalist Sam Houston State. Lamar landed DeRidder brothers Daniel and David (defensive end and linebacker) and Iowa, Louisiana, running back Markell Hawthorne, whose brother Martell is a receiver.

“I think we’ve done an incredible job,” Chuck Langston said. “We’ve got a lot of guys from the 409. I count the Crosby guys as local guys. I think we did an incredible job evaluating, and the coaches did a good job signing those guys.”

**CORRECTED to reflect name of former Lamar defensive coordinator**

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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