Tarleton Football inks 11 on National Signing Day


STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton signed 11 new faces to national letters of intent during Wednesday’s National Signing Day. The new batch of Texan signees join the six from last December’s Early Signing Day to bring the class of 2021 to 17.

“This has certainly not been a traditional signing day, but we’re equally as thrilled about the results,” said head coach Todd Whitten. “Normally, you spend all day on signing day looking at signees all around the country and enjoying the fruits of your labor from the recruiting trail, but today we’re trying to prepare for our game against McNeese State on February 13. So, it’s a little different.

“This group of young men is extremely talented,” he continued. “I’m thankful for all of the hard work done by our coaches. I have no doubt that this group of young men will bring a great deal of talent to our program. We look forward to getting them on campus and putting in the work to prepare for the revival of (Western Athletic Conference) WAC Football.”

The six Early Signing Day athletes include Les Odimara (Arlington HS), Maleek Jones (Port Arthur Memorial HS), Myles Aldridge (Bryant [AR] HS), Gabe Tatum (Burleson Centennial HS), Chris Haywood (Foreman [AR] HS), and Randy Clemons II, who is on the active roster now as a junior college transfer.

The complete list of 11 signees from National Signing Day is below:

Courtland Stephens • Defensive Back • MacArthur HS

Stephens comes to Tarleton following a standout career at MacArthur High School in San Antonio. Standing at 6-0 and weighing 185 pounds, Stephens is a defensive back.

“He’s explosive. A physical freak. He has a great combination of six and speed that will allow him to play multiple positions on the defense,” said defensive coordinator Marcus Patton.

Tyrone Irving III • Wide Receiver • James E. Taylor HS

Irving comes to Tarleton following a standout career at James E. Taylor High School in Katy. Standing at 6-2 and weighing 180 pounds, Irving III is a wide receiver.

“He’s an outstanding athlete with elite level ball skills,” said wide receivers coach Tate Whitten. “He battles really well and does a great job of bringing in 50/50 balls.”

Dalton Merryman • Offensive Line • Montgomery HS

Merryman will join the Texan trenches after a phenomenal high school career at Montgomery High School. One of the biggest players of the signing class, Merryman is 6-9 and 320 pounds on the offensive line.

“Dalton is a very athletic, very large lineman who can really move,” said co-offensive coordinator Scott Carey. “He’s a big, physical guy that looks skinny but plays hard.”

Kristian Dalton • Running Back • Ball HS

Looking to join the ranks of Tarleton’s premier rushing attack, the Texans signed Dalton (6-2, 205 lbs) out of Ball High School in Galveston.

“Kristian is a big, powerful back with very deceptive speed. He will be a great addition to our backfield,” said co-offensive coordinator Jonathan Beasley.

Kurt Hatch • Offensive Line • Weatherford HS

Another offensive lineman of this group, Kurt Hatch (6-3, 270 lbs) makes his way to Stephenville from Weatherford High School.

“He played every position along the line in high school. He’s a local guy with a very high football IQ,” said Carey.

Brandon Tolvert • Defensive Line • Newnan (GA) HS

One of two out-of-state student-athletes making their way to Stephenville to become Texans, Brandon Tolvert (6-1, 285 lbs) comes to Tarleton from Newnan, Georgia.

“Brandon is an explosive, dynamic interior player with a lot of upside,” said Patton. “This young man has all the intangibles on and off the field that drive him.”

Evan Chisolm • Athlete • Americas HS

Chisolm comes to Tarleton looking to make his mark on either side of the ball after a dominant high school career as a wide receiver and defensive back.

“Evan is a long, athletic, rangy athlete that plays very physical at the point of attack,” said Patton.”

Blake Smith • Defensive Back • Glenda Dawson HS

Smith will don the purple and white following his standout career for Glenda Dawson High School in Pearland. At 5-11, 170 pounds, Smith is one of two defensive backs to commit Wednesday.

“He’s a versatile defensive back that shows a knack for making plays in different facets of the game,” said Patton.

Alex Thole • Quarterback • Schoolcraft (MI) HS

Thole is the lone signal caller to sign an NLI for Tarleton on National Signing Day. Standing at 5-11 and 180 pounds, Thole heads south to Texas from Michigan to join Todd Whitten’s quarterback room.

“Alex is a dual threat, very accurate and dynamic player,” said head football coach Todd Whitten. “He has a lot of arm talent with a high completion percentage.”

Kyle Taylor • Linebacker • The Colony HS

Taylor joins the Texans following a standout career at The Colony High School. Standing at 6-1, 220 pounds, Taylor will play linebacker for the Texans.

“Kyle is a physical linebacker with a great knack for rushing the quarterback and playing inside the box,” said Carey.

Hunter Smith • Offensive Line • Rockwall Heath HS

Smith rounds out the Tarleton Signing Day as another big addition to the Texan offensive front. At 6-5, 295 pounds, Smith joins the Tarleton trenches following after starring on the field for Heath High School in Rockwall.

“Hunter is a big, physical offensive lineman with size and speed to match,” said Carey. “He’s a natural leader that is aggressive coming off the ball.”

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