Story by Mark McFarland, Assistant Sports Editor
Nearly two months after 28 new players signed, Head Coach Mitch Stewart welcomed five more signees to the program.
Prior to signing the five new players, a few players from last season’s team competed in Murray State’s Pro Day.
Three of the seniors participating in Pro Day really stood out to Stewart: running back Pokey Harris from Winchester, Kentucky, defensive back DeQuinten Spraggins from West Point, Mississippi and defensive tackle from Cincinnati. Stewart said Spraggins had a good day in the bench press and weighed in well at over 300 lbs. Stewart also said he was surprised at how well Spraggins ran.
“Pokey Harris did really well,” Stewart said. “Pokey was actually a lot stronger than I thought he was going to be. He did really well in the 225 bench, I think he benched 225 like 13 times or something which is pretty good considering he’s 178 pounds.”
Stewart also said Harris ran really well, running a 4.51 second and 4.71 second 40-yard dash.
After signing day, Stewart and the program had eight scholarships left to give out. Stewart said he wants to be able to fill all of the spots so they won’t have to have such big classes in the future.
“Everything we’ve done since I got here basically has been off of roster management,” Stewart said. “We need certain numbers at certain positions don’t want to go over it at some positions and can go over it at other positions and that was just based off the numbers who we needed.”
The Racers lost 35 players in the offseason to graduation, the NFL draft and transferring to different programs. With the signing of the five new players, Stewart has signed 33 new guys in total for the fall 2016 season.
Out of the five new signees, four of them have played junior college football. The other was a Missouri Class 6A first-team All-State selection at kicker. Stewart said these five student-athletes were signed to continue to build depth to the roster.
“If you look at our roster, we needed some more O-lineman, we needed some more D-lineman, we needed a kicker, so you know that was the reason why we signed who we signed,” he said.
With 33 new guys coming in, there will be some spots to compete for during the fall. Stewart said all spots are open for someone to come in and earn.
“I tell those recruits the same thing all the time ‘I’m not signing you to sit on the bench with me,’” Stewart said. “Now obviously we’re going to have to redshirt some guys, or else we’re going to be in this situation again.”
Spring practices began April 5 and will continue until April 23. Practices are open to the public.