New Missouri State University head football coach Dave Steckel received National Letters of Intent from 13 high school seniors today in the first day of the spring signing period for Division I college football on Wednesday.
Winning the battles on the line are the key to football and Stec built depth with three defensive linemen and four offensive linemen joining the fold. The Bears also got commitments from four defensive backs, a quarterback and a linebacker in this year’s class.
“I’m excited how our coaching staff put together a quality class in a short time,” Steckel said. “They were diligent in building bridges with high school coaches around the state and establishing relationships that will propel us into the future.”
The Bears will return 12 starters, 42 lettermen and 72 total squad members for Stec’s first season at the helm of the Missouri State program. His club will begin spring practices on March 16 and conclude with the team’s annual Maroon and White Game at Plaster Stadium on Saturday, April 11 at Noon.
Missouri State bios
Colin Bess (DE, 6-5, 235, Fr., Park Hills, Mo., Central High)
A two-time Missouri Class 3 all-state selection at Central High School in Park Hills, Bess helped coach Kory Schweiss’ Rebels to a 12-1 campaign in 2014. He finished with 103 tackles, 17 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries and an interception his senior season after posting 14.5 sacks and 71 tackles in 2013. He was part of back-to-back MAAA Conference championship teams and earned all-district, all-conference, all-region and KTJJ Dream Team honors his last two years. Bess is also the starting power forward for the Central basketball team. He is the son of Don and Diann Bess.
Michael Briggs (QB, 6-2, 205, Fr., Lee’s Summit, Mo., O’Hara High)
Briggs was a three-year starter for Archbishop O’Hara High School in Kansas City where he helped the Celtics to a 10-2 finish and West Central Conference title in 2014. He was a Missouri Class 3 all-state second-team pick for coach Jim Demarea after throwing for 2,212 yards with 22 touchdowns as a senior. He also carried for 356 yards and 13 scores in 2014 while overtaking O’Hara’s career passing (4,772 yards) and touchdown (42) records. Briggs also earned all-conference and all-district honors his last two seasons, claiming conference offensive player of the year laurels both times. He passed for 1,702 yards with 13 touchdowns as a junior after getting second-team all-conference accolades as a sophomore. He was also honored with the Kelly Donohoe Award and KC Elite 81 Team distinction in 2014. He also plays varsity baseball at O’Hara and is the son of Paul and Jodi Briggs.
Kameron Carter (S, 6-1, 185, Fr., Arlington, Texas, Arlington High)
Carter is coming off a stellar senior campaign at Arlington (Texas) High where he notched 92 tackles for coach Scott Peach while earning Class 15-5A All-District first-team honors. He was a two-year starter for the Colts and snagged 3 interceptions in 2013 to go with his 51 solo stops, 97 total tackles and 10 passes defended in a 6-5 campaign. Arlington was 10-3 his sophomore season. He is also a sprinter and 4×400-meter relay specialist for the Arlington track team. He is the son of David and Charlotte Carter.
Coleman Clanton (OL, 6-5, 255, Fr., Olathe, Kan., Olathe South High)
A highly-touted defensive end and tight end from Olathe (Kan.) South High School, Clanton will play offensive line for the Bears upon his arrival in Springfield. He led coach Jeff Gourley’s Falcons to a 7-3 mark his senior season. He earned 6A all-state honors at tight end and in 2014 and was a two-time All-Sunflower Conference pick at tight end, also earning honorable mention distinction at defensive end as a junior. He was a member of the 2011 state championship football squad as a freshman and is also a standout track performer, placing eighth at the 2014 Kansas 6A meet in the javelin. He is the son of Curt and Page Clanton.
A.J. David (OL, 6-7, 255, Fr., Moberly, Mo., Moberly High)
A two-sport standout at Moberly (Mo.) High School, David was an all-conference, all-district and Class 4 all-state lineman for the Spartans in 2014. He helped coach Jason Ambroson’s club to a 42-0 first-round playoff win his senior season and earned the team’s Iron Spartan Award as the team’s strongest player. The Moberly team captain was also an all-district and all-state track performer, finishing second in the 2014 Class 4 discus finals with a throw of 142-feet, 1 inch. He is the son of Jack and Lynelle David.
McNeece Egbim (LB, 6-0, 200, Fr., Rowlett, Texas, Rowlett High)
Egbim helped coach Doug Stephens’ squad at Rowlett (Texas) High, just outside Dallas, to an 8-4 campaign in 2014. He was named the squad’s defensive most valuable player as well as the 11-6A District 8 defensive MVP. Egbim was the Eagles’ 2014 team captain. He is the son of Clara Egbim.
Darius Joseph (CB, 6-0, 170, Fr., Oklahoma City, Okla., Southmoore High)
Joseph was a Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference first-team return specialist in 2014 after helping to lead coach Jeremy Stark’s Southmoore (Okla.) High Sabercats to the Oklahoma state quarterfinals. In 9 games his senior season, he snagged 3 interceptions, blocked a field goal and recovered a fumble, while averaging 12.5 yards per reception as a starting wide receiver. He lettered as a sophomore and junior while earning experience at the cornerback position. Joseph is also a standout 100- and 200-meter sprinter on the Southmoore track squad. He is the son of Dawn Darbon and resides with guardians James and Sarah Dick.
Anthony Lippillo (OL, 6-4, 290, Fr., Springfield, Mo., Parkview High)
Lippillo was a two-year starter at left tackle for Parkview High School in Springfield. He helped Anthony Hays’ Vikings to a 7-5 season and Class 5 playoff appearance in 2014 en route to earning News-Leader All-Ozarks second-team honors. He was a two-time Ozarks Conference honorable mention selection and earned Southwest Missouri Football Coaches Association all-area honors his senior season. Lippillo is also a competitive powerlifter, winning top honors at the Fair Grove meet in the heavyweight division his junior year. He is the son of Paul and Denise Lippillo.
Forrest Merrill (DT, 6-1, 330, Fr., Willard, Mo., Willard High)
Merrill was a two-time Class 5 all-state lineman at nearby Willard (Mo.) High School for coach Brock Roweton. He earned Central Ozarks Conference first-team distinction as a junior and senior on both sides of the ball and was named defensive player of the year in the COC in 2013 and 2014. As a senior, he notched 86 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 4 sacks for a 9-2 Tigers squad. Merrill also was a two-time all-district, all-area and All-Ozarks selection, earning most-valuable player honors on the News-Leader 2014 All-Ozarks team. He later won the HyVee Most Valuable Player award as the top player of 25 selected to the American Family Insurance USA All-Ozarks Team. He is the son of Forrest and Stacy Merrill.
Taiwo Oluwafunmila (DE, 6-4, 223, Fr., Lagos, Nigeria, Monteverde (Fla.) Academy)
A promising young defensive end, Taiwo Oluwafunmila was a standout first-year performer at Monteverde (Fla.) Academy where he was one of the Eagles’ top performers. Recorded a power throw of 37.5 during the Orlando Nike Football Training Camp testing last March with a 28.7-inch vertical. According to coach Brian Triweek, he received a scholarship offer after his first spring game for the Eagles in 2014. He is the son of Olajide and Abimbola Oluwafunmila.
Cameron Price (S, 6-2, 200, Fr., Florissant, Mo., Hazelwood Central High)
Price helped Hazelwood Central High in suburban St. Louis to a combined 23-2 record in his last two seasons for coach Van Vanatta’s Hawks. As a senior, Price brought down 38 ball carriers and posted 8 interceptions – second among all metro players — while earning Post-Dispatch All-Metro second-team honors and St. Louis American first-team distinction. He was a two-time Suburban North all-conference pick, earning first-team honors at defensive back in 2014, while playing a significant role in the team’s three straight conference titles. As a junior, Price snagged 5 interceptions, had 44 tackles and moved from quarterback to defensive back while helping the Hawks to a 2013 district championship. He is the son of Chris and Jada Brown.
Marquis Prophete (OL, 6-5, 270, Fr., Florissant, Mo., McCluer North High)
A three-year starter on both sides of the ball, the McCluer North lineman earned Post-Dispatch All-Metro honors and St. Louis American first-team distinction as a senior. Prophete started 32 straight games for coach Courtland Griffin’s Stars and was team captain in 2013 and 2014. He was named one of the Top 30 recruits in the St. Louis Metro Area and was an All-Metro Conference selection three consecutive seasons. He is also a standout shot put and discus thrower at McCluer North and is the son of Mark and Kimberly Prophete.
Robert Thomas (CB, 6-0, 185, Fr., Tulsa, Okla., Tulsa Union High)
A three-star recruit on Scout.com, Thomas emerged as the top-rated wide receiver in the state of Oklahoma in 2014 after hauling in 82 receptions for 9 touchdowns his senior campaign for Tulsa Union High School. A two-time Class 6A all-state selection for coach Kirk Fridrich’s Redskins, Thomas also tallied 6 interceptions as a senior and earned his second straight all-conference designation. He helped lead his team all the way to the Oklahoma state championship game this fall and an 11-2 overall record. He is the son of La Tisha Scarborough.