Sacred Heart University head football coach Mark Nofri announced that the Pioneer football program announced 18 additions to the program on National Signing Day. Fifteen of the student-athletes signed NLI or deposited to the University, while three are mid-year transfers who are currently enrolled. The 18 student-athletes; Dan Blatman (Andover, Mass.), Tyreke Brown (Carneys Point, N.J.), Chase Bradley (Irving, Calif.), Liam Cabri (Wood-Ridge, N.J.), Cole DeFranco (Nazareth, Pa.), Cole Esposito (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), Brian Ewan (Barnegat, N.J.), Malik Grant (White Plains, N.Y.), Rob McCoy (Willingboro, N.J.), Kevon McCrary (Daytona Beach, Fla.), Ryan Montalvo (Southington, Conn.), Colton Nichols (Trumbull, Conn.), Gavin Pruett (Flower Mound, Texas), Tommy Smith (Bradley Beach, N.J.), Richie Sykes (Middletown, Pa.), Myles Talley (Hatsfield, Pa.), Rayshad Wallace (Philadelphia, Pa.), and Brandon Whaley (Daytona Beach, Fla.) join five Pioneers that inked National Letters of Intent during the early signing period in December.
"We are excited about the addition of these young men to the Pioneer family," said Nofri. "Along with their athletic talent and prowess, this are high character young men, who are committing themselves to the standards that we hold for our program. I am thankful to my coaches for hard work and dedication in the recruiting process to finding guys that are the right fit for SHU football. I am excited about getting this group on the field, with our returning players, and defending our conference championship."
The six student-athletes that signed during the early period were: Ryan Clemente (North Attleboro, Mass.), Jordan Griffin (Rehoboth, Mass.), Kenan Luchun (Virginia Beach, Va.), Mike Jones (Staten Island, N.Y.), Terron Mallory (New Haven, Conn.) and Jonathan Mucciolo (Mahopac, N.Y.). The SHU recruiting Class of 2023 will take the field for the first time in the fall of 2019.
The Pioneers are coming off of their third Northeast Conference crown in the past six seasons in 2018. SHU posted a 7-4 record and a 5-1 mark against league opponents. Nofri was named the NEC Coach of the Year for the third time since 2013 and first-year running back Julius Chestnut was voted as the NEC's Offensive Rookie of the Year. Three Pioneers – fifth-year receiver Andrew O'Neill, senior offensive lineman Andrew Starr and junior defensive end Chris Agyemang - were selected to the NEC First Team. Five players were named to the second team, including grad quarterback Kevin Duke, senior running back Jordan Meachum, senior offensive lineman Knikeem Lewis, graduate defensive end Aaron Donalson and graduate defensive back Terrell Smith.
- Defensive Tackle
- 6-foot-1; 360 pounds
- Two-time All-League selection
- Three-year starter
CoachNof on Daniel: "A big nose guard who will help improve our run defense."
- 6-foot-1; 220 pounds
- First-Team All-State and All-Conference at linebacker
- First-Team All-Conference at wide receiver
- Made 105 tackles, while rushing for 937 yards, catching 24 passes for 512 yards and scoring 25 touchdowns
CoachNof on Tyreke: "A great athlete who can play on both sides of the field and will compete for playing time at linebacker next year."
#CoachNof on Chase: "He is a high-energy kid. He has a great motor and makes plays all over the field."
#CoachNof on Liam: "Liam is a tight end who is a great blocker and catches the ball well."
- 6-foot-1; 185 pounds
- Set District 11 career passing record with 9,904 yards
- LehighValleyLiveFootball Player of the Year
#CoachNof on Cole: "A good athlete, who runs well, and is a dual threat for our offense"
- 6-foot-1; 225 Pounds
- New York All-State selection by USA Today
- Defensive Player of the Year in the CHSFL
- All-League selection
#CoachNof on Cole: "A good inside linebacker that plays hard and loves the game."
- 6-foot-0; 220 pounds
- All-time leading tackler at Barnegat with 304 tackles
- Three-time All-Conference honoree
- Twice named Third-Team All-Shore
#CoachNof on Brian: "A good linebacker that plays downhill."
- Running Back
- 5-foot-7, 200 pounds
- All-Catholic League selection
- Helped Stepinac to a pair of state championships
#CoachNof on Malik: "He is tough hard runner with great vision. Malik cuuts well and plays in a similar offense that we run.
- 6-foot-1; 190 pounds
- Second-Team All-Shore and First-Team All-Liberty Division
- Selected to participate in the Phil Simms All-Star Game
#CoachNof on Rob: "Rob is a very good athlete who is a dual threat and fits well in our offensive scheme."
- Defensive Line
- 6-foot-0; 285 pounds
- All-Area Selection
- Daytona Beach QB Club selection
#CoachNof on Kevon: "Kevon is a big defensive tackle with a high motor. He is physical and does a great job of getting into the backfield."
- 5-foot-11; 190 pounds
- All-State at running back and linebacker as a senior
#CoachNof on Ryan: "Ryan runs well and plays downhill. He is an All-State guy on both sides of the ball."
- 6-foot-2; 225 pounds
- Second-Team All-FCIAC
- Two-year team captain
- USA National Team alumni
#CoachNof on Colton: "A quarterback that has good size and a very strong arm."
- 5-foot-11; 190 pounds
- Played at Nassau CC last season
- Defensive Line
- 6-foot-1; 275 pounds
- Helped Red Bank Catholic to a state championship
- First-Team All-Shore
- First-Team All-Division
#CoachNof on Tommy: "Tommy is a strong defensive tackle who has good feet and plays hard."
- Running Back
- 6-foot-0; 190 pounds
- Honorable Mention All-State
- Selected First-Team All-League at running back, defensive back and kick return
#CoachNof on Richie: "Richie is a hard runner, with good speed, size and toughness."
- 6-foot-0; 210 pounds
- All-State honoree and Big 33 selection
- Named First-Team All-Southeastern PA, First-Team All-City and First-Team All-Catholic
#CoachNof on Myles: Myles is a perfect linebacker for our defense; he is strong and runs well.
- Defensive End
- 6-foot-1; 235 pounds
- Played last season at Fork Union Military Academy
- Set the single-season sack record at Fork Union
#CoachNof on Rayshad: "Rayshad is a great pass rusher, with a quick first step. He plays hard, fast and physical."
- 6-foot-0; 165 pounds
- First-Team All-Area
- Had 27 solo tackles and 17 PBU as a senior
#CoachNof on Brandon: "Brandon is a big, athletic corner who brings great speed and a knack for the ball."