Yesterday, we looked at the Charlotte 49ers’ verbals at offense, as well as listed athletes. Today we’ll look at the other side of the ball and examine the defensive verbals, as well as special teams. Given that Brad Lambert is a defensive minded coach (having been a d-back in college and a defensive coordinator for the bulk of his career), it’s no surprise that defense has had the bulk of the verbal commitments thus far.
One player that got some high marks as a huge get for the young Niner football program was Justin Bridges-Thompson from Spartanburg (SC). Bridges-Thompson has gotten some significant national attention, being ranked by CBSSports.com as the #21 safety in the country and #20 in the state (#39 in the country) by Rivals.com. More impressive is that FBS programs like Arizona, N.C. State, Pitt and Wake Forest were among his offers–so this commitment raised some eyebrows. Word is he’ll play strong safety for the Niners, who currently have four on the roster.
Another nice get for the Niners was another South Carolina safety: Nicholas Halmon from Bamberg-Ehrhardt. Halmon hasn’t received the rankings that Bridges-Thompson has enjoyed, but he had received a couple of FBS offers of his own–Arizona and Vanderbilt among them. He’s played corner as well as free safety in high school so we’ll have to wait and see where he is listed on the Charlotte roster if he signs.
Three linebackers have verballed thus far for Charlotte: JUCO transfer Caleb Clayton-Molby from Georgia Military College, South Stanly (NC)’s Jordan Starnes and George Washington (WV)’s Dustin Crouser. Clayton-Molby, an inside linebacker, recorded 49 tackles (40 solo) and four sacks with the Bulldogs in 2012. Crouser, also an ILB, could be a redshirt for his freshman season after tearing an ACL in October, but was ranked as the fifth best at his position in West Virginia. Starnes, an OLB, had N.C. State in his top two as recently as this summer (and also received some looks from schools like Georgia Tech) but decided on Charlotte last month. A three sport athlete (he also played baseball and basketball), he’ll join former high school teammate Jalen Holt this fall if he signs. Broughton (NC) tackle Wolfgang Zacherl is the most recent verbal for Charlotte and was able to seal the deal during a visit over Martin Luther King weekend. William & Mary and Army were a few of his other offers.
Local product Nolan Corpening from Vance (NC) looks as if he will be settling on defense for the Niners, despite his time as a running back and receiver in high school. Don’t be surprised to see him pop up as a punt/kick returner: he proved that he was more than capable of that at Vance. JUCO transfer James Williams from Golden West (CA) gave his verbal to Charlotte in mid-December and will be a long way from his home of Los Angeles.
Rounding out the defense is strong side DE Jamar Winston from Dutch Fork (SC). He’ll be familiar to Kalif Phillips, Jachin Watkins, and Starnes as the Tar Heel State trio played against him and his South Carolina teammates in the Shrine Bowl. Winston wasn’t even scheduled to play, but an injury to another player got him the call to the annual game. He did well in his senior season, recording 54 solo tackles (10.0 for a loss) for a Dutch Fork team that advanced to the I-AAAA state championship.
Only one special teams player has verballed thus far for Charlotte: local kicker Blake Brewer from Cannon (NC) right up the road in Concord. We wrote about Brewer a few weeks back and noted that he had received some high marks following an All-American season in his junior year, as well as some looks from FBS schools.