WSSU Football Continues To Add Talent; Rams Ink 14 To National Letters Of Intent

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – New Winston-Salem State University head football coach Connell Maynor has only officially been on the job since the start of the New Year but as evidenced by the talent that has committed to join the Rams he and his coaching staff have wasted no time in making themselves visible in the recruiting circles.


Maynor and his talent-laden coaching staff have signed 14 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent as the Rams continue to add talent and depth to a very skilled roster.  


Joining the Rams for the 2010 season are:


Jalaquon McNeill, a 6-0, 185-pound linebacker from Lumberton High School in Lumberton, N.C.  McNeil led the Pirates in tackles for two consecutive years en route to being named a First-Team 4A Southeastern All-Conference selection in both his junior and senior seasons.  Named the 4A Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as he recorded 114 tackles, three interceptions and four sacks as a senior for the Pirates.  A very talented football player with exceptional off the ball quickness who has a nose for the football.  McNeill is a textbook tackler with great technique who will be expected to come in and immediately contribute for the Rams.  The son of Mary McNeil. 


Maurice Lewis, a 5-11, 190-pound running back from Lumberton High School in Lumberton, N.C.  Named the 2009 Robeson County Player of the Year as he rushed for over 2,000 yards as a senior and 1,000 yards as a junior en route to compiling 3,405 yards in his final two seasons with the Pirates.  Averaged over 150 yards rushing per game as a senior.  A 4A Southeastern All-Conference honoree in both his junior and senior seasons he is a downhill runner who presses the line of scrimmage very well, Lewis can break tackles and has a knack for making plays in the open field.  An excellent student, Lewis was named to Lumbeton High School’s “B Honor Roll” his senior season.  A two-sport star at Lumberton HS he was also a member of the Pirates’ swim team.  The son of Maurice and Amelia Lewis. 


Jermaine Kesler, a 6-2, 303-pound defensive tackle from Lumberton High School in Lumberton, N.C.  A starter in the 2009 Shrine Bowl as a defensive tackle he was a two-time 4A Southeastern All-Conference selection.  An Honorable Mention All-State selection Kesler finished the season with 65 total tackles, including 33 solo tackles and 32 assisted tackles en route to posting an average of 4.6 tackles per game.  Also recorded two sacks and one forced fumble his senior season with the Pirates.  Kesler chose the Rams over offers from Wingate, UNC-Pembroke and Duke.  The son of Melissa Pittman and Jermaine Kesler, Sr.


Duvontae Covington, a 6-2, 285-pound defensive lineman from James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, N.C.  A two-way player for the Panthers, Covington played on both the offensive line as an offensive tackle and on the defensive line as a defensive end.  Started all 16 games for Dudley High School en route to helping lead the Panthers to a 14-2 overall record.  A big, strong, raw athletic talent he is extremely agile and fast for his size.  A player with a great upside, Covington is a raw talent whose potential is untapped and he will immediately add depth to the Rams’ roster.  Though he will likely play inside on the line and at the defensive end position his versatility may be his strength.  The son of Keisha Covington. 


Kaleb Carter, a 6-4, 280-pound offensive lineman from Wilson High School in Florence, South Carolina.  Carter played under WSSU alum Darryl Page at Wilson HS.  A member of the North-South All-Star team he helped to lead the Tigers to the AAA Lower State, Region VI Conference Championship and South Carolina State Championship his junior season.  An All-Area, All-Region and All-State selection he is a very athletic lineman.  Bench presses 275 pounds and squats over 400 and has been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.98 seconds.  A very athletic lineman who is quick off the ball, Carter is expected to immediately contribute for the Rams.  Chose Winston-Salem State over Hampton and South Carolina State.  The son of Anita Reese and Kenneth Carter.


Anthony Short, a 5-8, 175-pound wide receiver from David W. Butler High School in Matthews, N.C.  Short was a member of the 2009 NCHSAA 4AA State Championship team and led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season and a top-30 national ranking.  Short was an All-Conference and All-Region performer for head coach Mike Newsome.  An electrifying athlete who will bring excitement to the offensive side of the ball, Short is a vertical passing threat and possesses breakaway speed that will immediately add to the Rams’ return game as well as aerial attack. 


DeAngelo Johnson, a 6-1, 280-pound defensive lineman from Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C.  A two-year starter while at Mallard Creek High School he won 20 games over the span of his junior and senior seasons for head coach Mike Palmeiri.  A very strong defensive lineman prospect, Johnson will immediately add depth to a very talented WSSU defensive front.  The son of Tawanta Johnson and Clark Bush.


DeShean Townsend, a 6-3, 210-pound quarterback from South View High School in Fayetteville, N.C.  A very big pocket passer with a rocket arm Townsend is extremely athletic and mobile with a vertical leap of 28 inches.  A two-sport athlete at South View High School Tonwsend was a standout basketball player in addition to excelling on the gridiron.   Named the 2008 and 2009 Mid-South Conference Offensive Player of the Year as he passed for over 2000 yards in each season.  Recorded 23 touchdown passes as a junior and 22 touchdown passes as a senior.   An All-Conference and All-Area selection he received strong interest from North Carolina State and the University of South Carolina.  Received offers from Catawba, UNC-Pembroke and Fayetteville State University. 


Eric Wolff, a 6-2, 180-pound wide receiver from Hoke County High School in Raeford, N.C.  Wolf had 79 catches, 1,219 yards and 17 touchdowns his senior season for the Fighting Bucks.  A First-Team All-Southeastern Conference, First-Team All-State and 4A All-State honoree he is a very big and very physical receiver with field-stretching speed who is expected to make an immediate impact for the Rams.  The son of Sharon Davis. 


Graham Love, a 6-2, 195-pound wide receiver from Panther Creek High School in Cary, N.C.  A Tri-9 Conference All-Conference selection in both his junior and senior season for the Catamounts, Love is a very gifted wide receiver with great hands who should make an immediate impact for the Rams.  Received offers from Western Carolina and North Carolina Central and drew interest from East Carolina, Illinois, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.  Graham is the son of Tony and Michelle Love.


Thomas Warren, a 6-2, 280-pound offensive lineman from Mt. Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, N.C.   A standout two-way player at Mt. Tabor HS who played tackle and defensive lineman for the Spartans he will likely play guard for the Rams.  An All-Central Piedmont Conference selection he led the Spartans to the third round of the NCHSAA playoffs his senior season and helped Mt. Tabor HS to an 11-2 record.  Played under Head Coach Laymar Marshall at Mount Tabor High School.  The son of Thomas and Toni Warren.


Vernon Brandon, a 5-11, 185-pound quarterback from Hoke County High School in Raeford, N.C.  An outstanding athlete Clocked at 4.6 seconds in the 40 yard dash with a vertical leap of 36 inches, Brandon can stay in the pocket and throw and is athletic and mobile enough to get out of trouble if pressured.  An All-Conference, All-County and All-Region selection, Brandon completed 173 of his 338 pass attempts for 2,620 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior.  He is the son of Anthony and Sherika Wright.


Davin Gray, a 6-3, 310-pound defensive lineman from Robert B. Glenn High School in Kernersville, N.C.  Gray helped to lead Glenn HS to a 6-4 record his senior season en route to 62 total tackles and 10 sacks.  A pure athlete, Gray will immediately add depth to the Rams’ defensive front as he is both strong enough to go through opposing lineman and fast enough to go around them.  Born August 5, 1992 he is the son of Matilda and Henry Gray, Jr.   


Damontra Yates, a 6-2, 180-pound wide receiver/free safety from Red Springs High School in Fayetteville, N.C.  A former quarterback, Yates excelled in both his junior and senior seasons for the Red Devils.  A two-sport athlete who also stars on the basketball court at Red Springs HS, Yates plans to study Business Administration at WSSU.  He is the son of Aarin and Tereda Yates. 


“I think that this recruiting class is a very high number of recruits to sign at the Division II level on signing day.  Most people are going to think that this many student-athletes signing is unusual but it was the quality of the athletes that dictated how may young men we signed” WSSU head football coach Connell Maynor said.


“We usually don’t like to sign a lot of guys on national signing day.  We usually wait to try to get the guys who don’t receive the Division I offers that they think they will get, but the guys that we have in here have impeccable credentials and we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to take these guys.  These young men could all step in and immediately contribute for us. It is a testament to not only how very talented these future WSSU student-athletes are but also to how hard my coaching staff worked in securing this talented class,” Maynor added.


For additional information on WSSU football, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to the Official Website of WSSU Athletics at