South Alabama officially adds 2 signees to 2023 recruiting class
South Alabama imposed what it called a “soft cap” on its recruiting class of 2023 on Wednesday, adding two prospects on day one of the late signing phase.
Running back PJ Martin of New Orleans’ De La Salle High School and cornerback La’Dareyen Craig of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College officially became Jaguars. Craig is a Baker High School graduate who also spent time in South Alabama.
Martin and Craig join 12 high school and junior college players who signed in December, four Division I transfers who enlisted in the school in the Jaguars’ class of 2023 in January. Head coach Kane Wommack also expects to add more Division I transfers once the NCAA portal reopens in May.
“We use the term ‘finish’ very lightly; we’re certainly not done yet,” said Wommack. “But that was another great staple. We went into January recruitment with the idea that we will add value to our team. So if there was a player we could add value to, we definitely would.”
Martin (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) was a 2022 Louisiana First-Team Class 4A All-State pick when he set a school record with 2,248 yards and 35 touchdowns (33 rushing) for a De La Salle team went 10-1 and won his district championship. He joins a running back group from South Alabama that is bringing back lead rusher La’Damian Webb, top backup Braylon McReynolds and short-yardage specialist Marco Lee from last year’s team. He also signed Mississippi high schooler Jarvis Durr in December, adding that Ole Miss would trade Kentrel Bullock in January.
“We felt like we hit a home run with PJ Martin,” Wommack said. “There’s going to be more PJ Martins out there who moved on from his last year, grew a few inches, had a great senior season, and a lot of teams have already been on other running backs. And usually you only take maybe one or two of these a year. There aren’t many spots out there.
“We were really lucky to be very patient and find a guy like him. I think in some ways we outperform recruiting people and in other ways we outperform evaluating people. And it was certainly an evaluation take that I think will pay off hugely.”
Craig (6-2, 175) totaled 50 tackles and one interception in 10 games as a redshirt freshman at the Gulf Coast last season and has a 3-star rating from 247 Sports. He signed with South Carolina from Baker in 2021 and played in two games for the Gamecocks before transferring to junior college.
Craig – nicknamed “Hollywood” – is helping to fill a much-needed position for South Alabama, which lost star cornerback Darrell Luter and colleague Jamar Richardson after last season. Fellow junior college student Reggie Neely of East Mississippi signed with the Jaguars in December to compete with holdovers Ricky Fletcher, Marquise “Cuddie” Robinson and Jason Brooks for cornerback representatives. “The other way we’re looking to recruit is to bring back the best players in Mobile to play for South Alabama,” Wommack said. “La’Dareyen Craig went to South Carolina, played on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and came straight out of Baker High School. So if you can do that, you can add value to the high school market and then take some of the best players from that space off the transfer portal. Think this is the recipe for sustained success of this program.
Craig is one of four local high school products in the Jaguars’ signing class so far, joining three December signers — UMS-Wright safety Cole Blaylock, McGill-Toolen wide receiver/kick returner Anthony Eager and Cottage Hill Christian tight end Trent Thomas. Additionally, Memphis wide receiver transfer Javon Ivory is originally from Grove Hill, about 80 miles north of Mobile.
Wommack has made a concerted effort to recruit the talent-rich Coastal Alabama region since arriving in South Alabama and has vowed to award at least five scholarships to players from Mobile and Baldwin Counties each year. He’ll need to add another via the transfer portal — or give a grant to a local walk-on — to hit that “Mobile 5” number this year.
Recruiting Class South Alabama 2023
Signatories in December (12)
Cole Blaylock, SAF, 6-0, 190, Mobile/UMS-Wright Prep
Josh Bledsoe, CB, 6-2, 170, LaFayette, Ala./LaFayette HS
Jarvis Durr, RB, 5-11, 193, Brandon, Miss./Brandon HS
Anthony Eager, WR/KR, 6-1, 170, Mobile/McGill-Toolen Catholic
Adrian Griffin, OL, 6-5, 260, Pleasant Grove, Alabama/Pleasant Grove HS
Gio Lopez, QB, 6-1, 210, Madison, Ala./James Clemens HS
Reggie Neely, CB, 6-0, 170, Memphis, Tennessee/East Mississippi CC
Jordan Norman, DE, 6-3, 230, Hoover, Ala./Hoover HS
Shamar Sandgren, WR, 6-2, 180, Savannah, Ga./Itawamba (Miss.) CC
Trent Thomas, TE, 6-6, 225, Mobile/Cottage Hill Christian
John Michael Ward, OL, 6-5, 280, Century, Fla./Northview HS
Karon Weary, SAF, 6-2, 180, Columbia, Miss./East Marion HS
Division I transfers (4)
Kentrel Bullock, RB, 5-10, 210, Columbia, Miss./Ole Miss
Reed Buys, OL, 6-4, 300, Vicksburg, Mississippi/Mississippi State
Jordan Davis, OL, 6-5, 300, Fairburn, GA/South Carolina
Javon Ivory, WR, 6-1, 200, Grove Hill, Alabama/Memphis
Signers in February (2)
La’Dareyen Craig, DB, 6-2, 175, Mobile (Baker HS)/Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
PJ Martin, RB, 5-10, 200, New Orleans/De La Salle HS