Notable TXHSFB players to sign with Non-FBS schools on National Signing Day

Photo Mackenzie Wilson

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According to a 2015 NCAA study, only 2.9 percent of high school athletes earn an opportunity to play Division I college football, and 7.3 percent participate in football in all three divisions. In other words, it takes incredible ability to be considered talented enough to compete in college. As someone who never had near the talent necessary to compete in college, I respect the players who earn a scholarship offer.

Naturally, many talented high school players in Texas didn’t sign with FBS schools or receive the press that a 5-star recruit like Terry Bussey has every week. However, the FCS teams in Texas are filled with multiple 3-star athletes.

For example, Houston Christian’s early signing class is filled with 3-star athletes from Texas and California. The Huskies own the top-ranked FCS class, according to 247Sports. Stephen F. Austin head coach Colby Carthel once again pulled in one of the best high school classes, highlighted by multiple players who were members of state championship teams.

Another team to pull in a solid class during the early period was Lamar. Peter Rossomando completely changed the mentality of the program in his first season as the Cardinals staff continued to win battles on the recruiting trail.

It was also a historic signing class for UTRGV, who have added the first 10 players in program history to its roster. Travis Bush and his staff were able to add solid talent despite the team not hitting the field until 2025.

The following is a look at notable Texas high school football players who signed with Non-FBS teams in Texas during the early signing period.

Raydrian Baltrip, Silsbee

College: Abilene Christian

Most high school football fans recall the name Dre’Lon Miller when referencing Silsbee, but Baltrip is another big-time talent from the Tigers' roster. Baltrip was named District 9-4A Division II Special Teams Player of the Year after gaining 1,059 all-purpose yards. While likely to be a member of the Wildcats special teams, Baltrip is projected to play wide receiver for ACU.

Isaiah Johnson, Clear Springs

College: Houston Christian

The defensive lineman, originally committed to Memphis, is one of three players from Clear Springs added to HCU’s roster during the Early Signing Period. Johnson was recently invited to play in the U.S. Army Bowl and chose the Huskies over offers from Memphis and Louisiana Tech.

Michael Sylvalie, Clear Springs

College: Houston Christian

The Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 3-Star outside linebacker was named District 24-6A Defensive Most Valuable Player in 2022. Sylvalie held offers from Arkansas State, Memphis, Missouri, Texas State, and Texas Southern.

Emonte “Cash” Cross, Center

College: Lamar

The District 8-4A Division II Offensive Most Valuable Player threw for 2,065 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 908 yards and three touchdowns on the ground this year. Despite his production at quarterback, the Cardinals are expecting the 247Sports 3-Star athlete to begin his collegiate career at wide receiver.

C.J. Miller, Anna

College: Lamar

Miller completed an outstanding high school career by earning Defensive Most Valuable Player honors while leading Anna to the Class 4A Division I state championship this year. A four-year starter for the Coyotes, Miller was named District 4A Division I Defensive MVP in 2022.

Chase Bingmon, Terrell

College: Prairie View A&M

A Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 3-Star running back, Bingmon chose PVAMU over offers from UNLV and Texas Southern. A dynamic multi-purpose back, Bingmon gained 5,302 yards and 74 rushing touchdowns during his career with the Tigers while adding four touchdown passes in 12 attempts and 401 yards and seven touchdowns receiving.

Cannon Lemberg, Gunter

College: Stephen F. Austin

Lemberg showcased why he is a Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 3-Star wide receiver with a 68-yard touchdown reception in the Class 3A Division II state title game. The play began with Lemberg using his hands to snag a pass that was thrown slightly behind him, then utilized his speed to get into the open field. He finished the touchdown by showing his football IQ when he directed his blockers downfield.

Jacob Gillespie, Aledo

College: Stephen F. Austin

A safety known for his ability to play downhill, Gillespie has anchored the Bearcats secondary while winning back-to-back Class 5A Division I state championships. A Dave Campbell’s Texas football 3-Star, Gillespie recorded 178 tackles, including 12.5 for loss over his last two seasons. 

Ta’Erik Tate, Gilmer

College: Stephen F. Austin

Tate played a crucial role in leading Gilmer to the Class 4A Division II state title this year, gaining 115 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. He added another 154 yards on punt and kickoff returns. The Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 3-star wide receiver has the size, speed, and hands to be a menace to the opposition with the Lumberjacks.

Mark Cooper, Lewisville

College: Texas A&M-Commerce

The Lions focus more on signing transfers during the Early Signing Period this year, but Cooper is a tremendous addition to the defense. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’s Director of Recruiting, Greg Powers, said Cooper, “Easily passes the eyeball test. A sure tackler who quickly sees through traffic to find the ball carrier.”

Rickey Evans, South Oak Cliff

College: Texas Southern

TSU might be making a mess of its search for a head coach, but the remaining coaches on staff secured a key player for the program’s future by adding Evans. The wide receiver chose TSU over offers from Arkansas State, Kansas, North Texas, and Texas State.

Trever Ham, Melissa

College: UIW

The Cardinals possibly found their quarterback of the future with Ham, who passed for 2,469 yards and 42 touchdowns during his senior season. Ham completed over 65 percent of his passes for nearly 6,000 yards during his final two years in high school and was named District 7-5A Division II Offensive Most Valuable Player in 2022.

Cah’lil Ward, Clear Creek

College: UTRGV

The Vaqueros made history with its first football recruiting class in program history last week. Ward was a unanimous selection to the 24-6A All-District first team in 2023 after recording 75 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Ward is expected to play safety for UTRGV.

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