The opening day of the spring signing period for Division I college football was a productive one for Missouri State head coach Dave Steckeland his staff, as the Bears have announced the receipt of official commitments from 14 high school seniors who have agreed to play football for MSU next fall.
“On behalf of our staff, I want to thank the high school coaches around Missouri and surrounding states for everything they have done for us during the recruiting process,” Steckel said. “We are very happy with the 2016 class, and I cannot thank my coaching staff enough for their hard work and dedication. They have spent countless hours to get to this point, and now we are really looking forward to getting started preparing for the upcoming season.”
Anthony Armour (DL, 6-4, 257, Tulsa, Okla./Holland Hall HS)
Armour earned honorable mention all-state recognition from the Tulsa World as a senior defensive lineman for Holland Hall High School. The two-time All-Southwest Preparatory Conference selection also competed in basketball, picking up All-North Zone laurels for the Dutch.
Charles Carter, Jr. (OL, 6-5, 285, Belton, Mo./Belton HS)
Carter was named a second-team Class 5 All-State selection from both the Missouri Football Coaches Association and statewide media as a senior in 2015. The offensive lineman also picked up second-teamKansas City Star All-Metro recognition and first-team All-Suburban Blue Conference honors.
Tristan Crowder (DL, 6-3, 220, Bartlesville, Okla./Bartlesville HS)
Crowder, the brother of current Bears running backCalan Crowder, was a three-year starter as a linebacker/defensive end for Bartlesville (Okla.) High School. A three-year all-district and all-area performer, Crowder earned his district’s defensive player of the year award, first-team all-state recognition fromOKPreps and a spot on USA Today’s ALL-USA Oklahoma Football Team as a senior after logging 99 tackles and 9.0 sacks.
Aaron Denson (WR, 6-0, 180, Fort Worth, Texas/Richland HS)
Denson was an honorable mention choice of the Texas AP Sports Editors for their 6A All-State squad as a senior wide receiver for Richland High School, where he hauled in 64 catches for 1,070 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. The two-way standout also picked up first-team Texas 7-6A All-District honors and earned a second-team spot on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Super Team last fall.
Sam Hall (QB, 6-1, 190, West Plains, Mo./West Plains HS)
Hall joins the Bears after a standout senior campaign for West Plains (Mo.) High School, where he passed for 1,541 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 467 yards and five scores to earn first-team All-Ozarks Conference recognition for a 10-2 Zizzers squad in 2015. He followed up a notable junior year in which he threw for nearly 1,900 yards and 16 TDs by leading a balanced West Plains attack that racked up more than 5,200 yards of offense last fall.
Austin Henderson (S, 6-2, 195, Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber HS)
Henderson, a three-year starter for Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber High School, was named an Arkansas 7A-West All-State performer as a defensive back after recording 52 tackles and intercepting a pair of passes as a senior in leading the Wildcats to a state runner-up finish. As a junior, he garnered all-state and all-conference recognition as well. A two-sport standout, Henderson also excelled in the long and triple jump as a track and field athlete.
Eric Johnson II (DL, 6-5, 235, Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South HS)
Johnson will join the Bears on the heels of a banner senior campaign for Plainfield (Ill.) South High School, where he recorded 17 sacks and 29 tackles for loss en route to earning his second straight all-conference nod. Johnson, the son of former All-MVFC defensive lineman Eric Johnson, has enjoyed a standout prep wrestling career as well, capturing second at the 2015 IHSA Class 3A state tourney and carrying the top ranking in his weight class into his senior year.
Richard Nelson (ATH, 6-2, 205, Las Vegas, Nev./Chaparral HS)
Nelson earned second-team all-state honors from the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a senior running back for Las Vegas Chaparral High School, rushing for 558 yards and 10 touchdowns, catching 15 passes for 279 yards and four TDs. He also returned four interceptions and a kickoff for scores to lead the Cowboys to a Division I-A state semifinal appearance. Nelson, a three-sport standout for Chaparral, was also an All-Sunrise League choice as a junior.
Rickey Nichols (WR, 6-2, 175, Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs South HS)
Nichols comes to MSU as a versatile threat after totaling more than 1,400 all-purpose yards in leading Blue Springs South High School to the Missouri Class 6 state title in 2015. He earned second-team All-Suburban Conference Gold honors as a wide receiver and honorable mention citation as a defensive back from theKansas City Star. Nichols was also selected for the Blue-Grey All-America Bowl combine.
Casey O’Brien (OL, 6-4, 265, Lemont, Ill./Lemont HS)
O’Brien was a three-year starter on the offensive line for Lemont (Ill.) High School, earning South Suburban Blue Conference honors as a junior and senior and 2015 all-area honors from both Daily Southtown and theJoliet Herald News. A National Honor Society member, O’Brien was an Academic All-State honoree as a senior after helping lead the Indians to a 2014 IHSA 6A state title game appearance and 22 overall victories in his final two prep seasons.
Lemond Singleton, Jr. (OL, 6-5, 285, Romeoville, Ill./Plainfield East HS)
Singleton brings his reputation as a long, athletic offensive lineman to the Bears’ program after competing as a prep for Plainfield (Ill.) East High School. The three-year letterman allowed just two sacks over his final two seasons with the Bengals, starting all nine games as a senior last fall. As a junior, he helped pave the way for an East offensive unit that featured both a 2,000-yard rusher and a 2,000-yard passer, while giving up just one sack in 230 pass attempts.
Greg Sloan (LB, 6-2, 210, Kansas City, Kan./Schlagle HS)
Sloan, a three-year starter for Kansas City’s (Kan.) Schlagle High School, was a first-team Kansas Class 5A All-State selection of the Topeka Capital-Journal this past fall. The linebacker also picked up first-team all-conference honors in each of his final two prep campaigns after leading his squad in tackles as a sophomore.
Walter Watson (DL, 6-2, 280, Oklahoma City, Okla./Del City HS)
Watson will join the Bears after completing his prep career as a two-way standout for Oklahoma City’s Del City High School, recording 35 tackles (including six for losses) and 3.0 sacks as a senior. He earned Class 5A West All-Star by Class recognition from the Oklahoma Coaches Association as a defensive lineman in 2015 and started 34 games on the Eagles’ offensive line over his three-year career.
Jordan Wilkes (LB, 6-0, 225, Florissant, Mo./Pattonville HS)
Wilkes, a four-time all-conference honoree at Pattonville (Mo.) High School, was named to all-state squads on both sides of the ball during his prep career. As s linebacker, he ranked among the Pirates’ top three tacklers in each of his final three prep seasons, including this past fall when he made 113 stops and forced four fumbles. Wilkes also hauled in 13 touchdown receptions as a tight end to earn all-district honors for the second year in a row.