The UAB football program closed out the final day before the NCAA Early Signing Period began with a flourish. The Blazers had five players announce their intentions to sign with UAB.
Commitment announcements to Trent Dilfer's first signing class came from:
*Cornerback/receiver Ricky Lee III of Cedar Grove High in Atlanta. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lee flipped his commitment from UConn. He had been committed to the Huskies since the summer.
*Offensive lineman Alfonzo Leomiti of Los Alamitos High in Southern California. Leomiti is 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, and can play guard or tackle.
*Offensive lineman Jalen Nettles of Northwest Mississippi Community College is a 6-foot-5, 320-pound tackle who also had an offer from Jacksonville State.
*Eamon Smalls, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle from South Carolina, committed on Tuesday. Smalls took his official visit to UAB on the first weekend, December 9-11.
*Wide receiver Brandon Hawkins of Navarro (Texas) Junior College flipped from Washington State to UAB.
"It's the coaches, the culture, the environment," said the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hawkins. "I just like the energy that Coach Dilfer brings. Just how they are going about things. I'm ready for it."
Hawkins said he remembered Dilfer from his days on ESPN and as an NFL quarterback.
"What Coach Dilfer can bring is exciting," Hawkins said. "This upcoming season, we can shock the world."
Hawkins took his visit last weekend.
"It was my first time going to Birmingham," Hawkins said. "The tour was nice. I got to see downtown. Everything was in walking distance. It was a good town, great people, great coaches."
Hawkins had 28 catches for 586 yards with four touchdowns last season. He was selected to the all-conference team.
"I just want to be the type of person who can bring different sparks to the team – special teams, offense, making plays," Hawkins said. "It's going to be a good season. They are getting a good player, somebody that understands the game."
At this point, UAB has eleven players who have publicly committed. More are expected to join the signing class when it starts to become official on Wednesday. Dilfer said on a social media video on Tuesday to "look for a giant splash. Tons of great people and great players entering the Blazer program."
Some other possibilities, either on Wednesday or the next several days, include East Mississippi running back Kadarius Calloway, cornerback JoJo Johnson of Iowa Western Community College, defensive lineman Logan Moore of San Diego Lincoln High, and linebacker Jack St. Fleur of Saddleback (California) Community College. Calloway tweeted on Tuesday night that he would not sign on Wednesday.
St. Fleur, who visited UAB last weekend, said the Blazers are in his top two, but he's not sure if he will sign on Wednesday. He said he probably won't wait until February to decide but might wait for a few days into the early signing period.
"I like what Coach Dilfer is trying to bring in," St. Fleur said. "I like being on the cusp of something great. I think everything that he's doing is a perfect fit if you want to be part of a championship team."
In other recruiting news:
*South Alabama received a commitment from East Mississippi cornerback Reggie Neely. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Neely had 33 tackles, five interceptions and eight pass breakups this past season.
Neely's offers also included Samford and Jacksonville State.
*Troy wide receiver Tez Johnson announced on Tuesday that he was entering the transfer portal. Johnson, who is from Pinson Valley High, had 56 catches for 863 yards with four touchdowns this season. His career numbers include 141 catches for 1,809 yards with eight touchdowns.
*Troy received a commitment on Tuesday from Garden City (Kansas) Community College defensive lineman Raymond Cutts. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Cutts had 58 tackles with 11 sacks this season.
*East Mississippi Community College offensive lineman Darrian King committed to Samford on Tuesday. King is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound tackle originally from Oak Grove High in Mississippi.
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