‘Young Bucs’ expect to come up big in 2017

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Blinn College football coach Ryan Mahon is eager to put his first recruiting class to the test during the 2017 season.

“They really bought into what we are trying to accomplish and really like the message,” Mahon said.

Following 10 years as an assistant coach at Tyler Junior College and Hutchinson Community College, Mahon was named Blinn’s interim head coach for the 2016 season before officially being named the head coach for 2017.

Mahon’s recruiting task was a large one after 20 former Buccaneers transferred following the 2016 season.

“We are the young Bucs, but we have quality depth and have increased our athleticism across the board,” Mahon said. “We really are going to have to find our identity quickly. Our goal is to build every single day and we make steady improvements.”

Mahon’s most notable move last season was transitioning Blinn’s offense.

“It will be up-tempo and spread offense like last year,” Mahon said. “It will be a little bit more dual-threat, with more quarterback run game, but we still will try to be quick to get as many points on the board as possible.”

The Buccaneers have new talent at the quarterback position. Texas State University transfer Devin Williams (Fort Worth) has the most experience with the Buccaneers after working out with the team during the spring. Texas Tech transfer Braden Hucks (San Angelo) and incoming freshman Daveon Boyd (Humble) also will compete for a spot in the pocket.

“They are dual-threat quarterbacks, really athletic, and understand our offense,” Mahon said.

Returning wide receiver Dandre Reed (San Antonio) is familiar with the offensive scheme after receiving for 391 yards for three touchdowns. Incoming freshmen Quinton Newton (Spring) Keric Wheatfall (Cypress) and Dashun Horne (Round Rock) also will catch passes.

Rhett Read (Buffalo) originally signed with Army, and Aneas Jackson (Pflugerville) will also catch passes at the tight end position.

Returning to the running game is Quantonio Williams (Richmond), who rushed for 25 yards and one touchdown last season. Williams will have competition at the running back position with incoming freshman Carlos Grace (Crosby) and Robert Franklin (College Station).

The offensive line will be anchored by Will Gilchrist (La Porte), Jamarus Bolding (Houston), and Joseph Becerra (San Antontio) all returning, along with University of Texas at San Antonio transfer Clayton Woods (Dallas) as the starting center and McNeese State University transfer Beau Morris (Baton Rouge, La.).

“We have a good corps in our offensive line,” Mahon said. “We are really excited about them.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Brandon Artis (Port Arthur) and Cullen Wick (Hallettsville) return on the defensive line joined by Auburn University transfer Antwuan Jackson (Ellenwood, Ga.).

“Our secondary is going to be strong and we have a great defensive front,” Mahon said. “We signed a good linebacking corps and they have a lot of potential.”

The linebackers will be led by incoming freshman Giovanni Moore (Columbus, Ga.). Brennon Davis (Grapevine), Jared Young (Missouri City), and Trevor Harmanson (Dickinson) will join him at the position.

The Buccaneers look to build around returning defensive back Dominique Harrison (Humble) after he totaled 23 tackles and four interceptions last season. Defensive back Nate Betts (Kerens) returns after posting 16 tackles in 2016.

“Artis, Wick, and Jackson are really going to help us a great deal,” Mahon said. “Moore is coming in to play a big role and Harrison, Betts, Davis, Young, and Harmanson will play key roles.

Kicker Ryan Buckley (Houston) returns on special teams.

“Buckley has a great deal of experience and he really is a highlight on special teams,” Mahon said. “He will be doing double duty as a punter and place kicker.”

Blinn finished with a 5-4 record in 2016.

“We are young, but we have a good core nucleus that understands what we are looking for and can pass that on to the young guys,” Mahon said. “We just want to improve as coaches and players, and make sure we are representing Blinn College the right way.”