Florida Tech Football Adds 18 On National Signing Day
By Space Coast Daily // February 6, 2014
loaded up on offensive and defensive lineman
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart announced the addition of 18 new student-athletes to the football program on National Signing Day on Wednesday.
The program’s newest members include two NCAA Division I transfers, two Division II transfers, a junior college transfer and 13 freshmen. Three of the freshmen are from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Englehart and his staff loaded up on offensive and defensive lineman, where they added nine new Panthers. They also inked three linebackers, three defensive backs, one wide receiver, a wide receiver/tight end and one quarterback.
Of the 18 additions, five enrolled at FIT in time for the spring 2014 semester to begin: Leo Alba, DeVonte Carswell, Cris Garcia, Steven Hughes and Billy Sturgis.
“We’re really excited (for the future),” Englehart said. “Our coaches did a wonderful job of not only looking at our roster and seeing how we can fill holes, but they recruited great kids. These young men coming in are going to be great ambassadors for Florida Tech and Florida Tech Football. I’m excited to get them here. I’m excited to move this program forward into the future. We have very high expectations and high goals. The men we’re bringing in can achieve those goals.
“We’re happy with the class we have so far. There’s still work to do. At the Division II level, you still sign guys after the Signing Day quite a bit. There are still some guys we’re going to continue to recruit. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of months.”
One of the additions was local product Steven Hughes. A Melbourne native and a graduate of Palm Bay High School, Hughes played quarterback for the last two seasons at Division I-AA Jacksonville University.
In 2013, he appeared in six games and started three. He threw for 1,167 yards and seven touchdowns on 72-of-132 passing.
“Steven Hughes is a local kid that has a lot of knowledge,” Englehart said. “He’s worked very hard on his skills at the quarterback level. He played this year at Jacksonville University. Ultimately, with his family nearby, the chance to come home was probably weighing on him. … He’s on campus, in the weight room, working out and getting to know our guys. I think that’s important for a quarterback to do. He’s going to add some experience to our roster at that position. He’s a multiple threat type of quarterback who can run. He’s a good kid. We’re happy to have him.”
Joining Hughes from the Division I ranks is former Western Michigan defensive back Leo Alba. Alba has also played two seasons of college football. Last fall, he appeared in 10 games for Western Michigan. He will reunite with former Western Michigan teammate and Panther tight end Gabe Hughes.
Cris Garcia, a linebacker from Division II Malone University, joins the team with three years of eligibility remaining. He recorded 48 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss in 2013.
“Garcia brings experience from playing a lot at the Division II level at Malone,” Englehart said. “They play in a great conference. He’s on campus and he’s working his butt off. He’s gained about 10 pounds of muscle.”
DeVaughn Priester, a defensive lineman from Cardinal Gibbons, was receiving looks from big Division I programs before he signed on to be a Panther.
“DeVaughn is going to be a great player for us,” Englehart said.
“He’s one that had multiple Division I opportunities and a lot of people recruited him. He’s coming from a great program in Cardinal Gibbons. He’s going to add a lot of depth for us on the interior defensive line. You add him in with Skylar Sheffield on the inside, some of our other players we have and Billy Sturgis, we’re going to have a lot of depth. It’s all about the trenches. It’s all about the offensive and defensive lines, and that’s where we tried to gain a lot of depth this year.”
Priester will suit up in a Panther uniform with two of his high school teammates. One teammate is linebacker Corey McCoy. Englehart also spoke highly of him and Jake Collier from Lake Mary High School.
“Jake Collier from Lake Mary High School is a great player,” Englehart said.
“He had some Division I offers, but with coaching changes we were able to sign him. We’re excited to get Jake. His uncle (Charles Dwyer) went to school here, so he knows FIT, he knows the area and he has family in the area. He’s going to be a great addition.
“Corey McCoy is from Cardinal Gibbons. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. He can play a lot of different positions. He can play outside linebacker and inside linebacker. After a couple of years, he has the length to grow into a defensive end. Jake Collier is very similar.”
The last National Letter Intent to roll off the fax machine was from Tristan Foster of Sylacauga High School in Sylacauga, Ala.
“Tristan is a very explosive, strong defensive lineman that can come here and be an impact player for our team,” Englehart said. “He fits in with the caliber of defensive lineman in the Gulf South Conference.”
CLICK HERE To view the bios of all 18 new Panthers
FIT will open spring practice on Monday, Feb. 17 on campus at Panther Field. The Panthers will hold their spring game on Saturday, March 22 at 6 p.m. at Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium.