GREENVILLE, S.C. (Furman Athletics) – Furman head football coach Clay Hendrix welcomed the addition of 11 recruits to the Paladins’ program on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA early signing period.
“We are really excited about the players we were able to sign today,” said Hendrix on Wednesday. “Our coaches did a terrific job of identifying and recruiting guys who make us better as a football team, but also are terrific young men who are outstanding students – they are the total package in every way. We also have the ability to add a couple more players to our roster in this class. This group, along with the football team we have returning, has us very excited about the 2022 season.”
Six defenders were among the signees, including three defensive backs, two linemen, and one linebacker. Offensively the Paladins’ newest additions featured three linemen, a quarterback, and a running back.
Seven states are represented in this year’s class, paced by Tennessee with three and Florida with two. The Paladins also inked players from South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio, as well as Canada.
Among Furman’s highest profile recruits are quarterback Carson Jones from Maryville, Tenn., inside linebacker Dylan Chiedo from Jacksonville, Fla., defensive backs Caleb Williams of Tampa, Fla., and Charles Ingram, V, of Nashville, Tenn., and running back Jayquan Smith from Braselton, Ga.
Jones completed 158-of-206 passes (76.7 percent) for 2,175 yards and 28 TDs (1 INT), and added 9 TDs rushing as a senior in helping perennial Tennessee power Maryville High School to a 13-1 record and state playoff semifinal finish this fall.
Playing in Florida’s highest classification (8A) and the recipient of seven FBS scholarship offers, among which were Iowa State, Maryland, and East Carolina, Chiedo was credited with 98 tackles in 2021 while leading Bartram Trail to a 9-3 season.
Williams, a 2020 all-state selection who combined 92 tackles with six interceptions and three fumble recoveries this fall, has played a leading role in 6A Tampa Jesuit’s current 14-0 season that includes a Dec. 18 state championship game appearance versus Pine Forest.
Ingram committed to Furman in July but not before earning scholarship offers from Syracuse, Kansas, and Army, as well as host of FCS programs. He recently represented Ensworth High School in Tennessee’s East-West All-Star Game, earning West Defensive MVP honors.
Smith, who played for Paladin football alumnus Tommy Jones at Cherokee Bluff High School, rushed for 1,750 yards and 22 touchdowns in an 11-1 season and earned scholarship offers from four FBS programs.
Furman’s three additions along the offensive front include Eli Brasher, Maddox Epperson, and Caleb Lyons. Brasher is a two-time all-state pick at North Carolina’s Christ School, and Epperson was a member of a state championship Aledo High School squad in Dallas,Texas. Lyons, meanwhile, collected all-state honors at Piqua (Ohio) High School after helping his squad to a 12-1 campaign as a senior.
Two Tennessee defensive linemen are in this year’s class: Malachi Harrison fom Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) and Thomas Pilon, a native of Montreal, Canada, who played the last two years at Chattanooga’s McCallie School. Harrison landed all-state honors as a junior after helping CAK to a state championship. Pilon, meanwhile, was instrumental in McCallie capturing state crowns his junior and senior seasons.
The Paladins’ lone Palmetto state signee, defensive back Tre’ McLeod, fashioned a brillant career at Trinity Collegiate School in Darlington, where he landed all-state honors as an athlete, contributing 82 tackles and six interceptions on defense to go along with 1,466 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
2021 Furman Football Signees (Dec. 15-17 NCAA Early Signing Period)
Eli Brasher, OT, 6-4, 280, Fr., Black Mountain, N.C. / Christ School
Dylan Chiedo, ILB, 6-2, 225, Fr., Jacksonville, Fla. / Bartram Trail
Maddox Epperson, C, 6-1, 275, Fr., Dallas, Texas / Aledo High School
Malachi Harrison, DL, 6-1, 275, Fr., Knoxville, Tenn. / Christian Academy Of Knoxville
Charles Ingram V, CB, 5-11, 180, Fr., Nashville, Tenn. / Ensworth High School
Carson Jones, QB, 6-2, 205, Fr., Maryville, Tenn. / Maryville High School
Caleb Lyons, OG, 6-3, 310, Fr., Piqua, Ohio / Piqua High School
Tre’ McLeod, DB, 6-2, 180, Fr., Darlington, S.C. / Trinity Collegiate
Thomas Pilon, DL, 6-3, 260, Fr., Montreal, Canada / McCallie (Tenn.) School
Jayquan Smith, TB, 6-0, 190, Fr., Braselton, Ga. / Cherokee Bluff High School
Caleb Williams, DB, 5-11, 180, Fr., Tampa, Fla. / Tampa Jesuit
Eli Brasher, OT
6-4, 280, Freshman
Black Mountain, North Carolina
High School: Committed to Furman on July 27…also entertained offers from Richmond, Elon, Jacksonville State, and Bucknell…projected 2022 graduate of Christ School (NCISAA-4A)…football coach was Chad Walker…played offensive and defensive lines…two-time first team all-state selection…member of 2020 state championship team that beat Harrells Christian, 55-21, for the title — the first in school history…also competed in track & field.
Personal: Full name is Eli Ansun Brasher…born April 27, 2003, in Fletcher, North Carolina…son of Brad and Cynthia Brasher..has a brother, Wilder…cousin played football at Jacksonville State.
Dylan Chiedo, ILB
6-2, 225, Freshman
Bartram Trail High School
High School: Committed to Furman on November 23 after entertaining offers from 11 schools, including Iowa State, Maryland, East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Liberty, UConn, Florida Atlantic, Dartmouth, Penn, and Stetson…projected 2022 graduate of Bartram Trail (8A) High School…football coach was Darrell Sutherland…credited with 98 tackles in 2021 leading his team to a 9-3 record…logged 107 tackles in 10 games in 2020 campaign that saw Bartram Trail go 11-3 and advance four rounds into the state playoffs…member of four district championship teams…two-time all-conference selection…also played basketball.
Personal: Full name is Dylan Chukwudi Chiedo..born May 30, 2004, in Jacksonville, Florida…son of Mark and Emilia Chiedo…has a brother, Brandon, and two sisters, Ashleigh and Chelsea.
Maddox Epperson, C
6-1, 275, Freshman
Aledo High School
High School: Committed to Furman on July 19…had offers from Eastern Kentucky, Missouri State, and Morehead State, among others…projected December graduate of Aledo (5A-D2) High School who plans to enroll at Furman in January and take part in spring practice…football coach was Tim Buchanan…played center, offensive tackle, and defensive tackle during his prep career, which included two seasons at Fort Worth’s All Saints Episcopal…three-time all-district selection…member of Aledo’s 13-1, state championship team in 2020…2021 Aledo team went 12-1 and advanced into the third round of the state playoffs.
Personal: Full name is Maddox Starr Epperson…born December 16, 2003, in Fort Worth, Texas…son of Bart and Tiffany Epperson..has a brother, Matthew…father played football at TCU (1990-94) and was an All-Southwest Conference offensive lineman.
Malachi Harrison, DL
6-1, 275, Freshman
Christian Academy Of Knoxville
High School: Committed to Furman on Oct. 4…also had an offer from Army, among other schools…projected 2022 graduate of Christian (D2-AA) Academy Of Knoxville…football coach was Travis Mozingo…helped league CAK to an 8-3 record and quarterfinal round appearance in the state playoffs in 2021 after going 11-1 and winning a region title in 2020…three-time all-region selection and was a 2020 Tennessee Sportswriters Association All-State pick… 2021 all-state teams yet to be announced…member of CAK’s 2019 state championship wrestling team.
Personal: Full name is Malachi James Harrison…born December 21, 2003, in Knoxville, Tennessee…son of Mickeeya and Edward Harrison…has two brothers, Michael and Chi, and a sister, Macaiah…father played football at Tennessee.
Charles Ingram V, CB
5-11, 180, Freshman
Ensworth High School
High School: Committed to Furman on July 30 over offers from Kansas, Syracuse, and Army, as well as FCS Richmond, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Eastern Kentucky…projected 2022 graduate of Ensworth (D2-3A)…played cornerback, safety, and running back…football coach was Roc Batten…earned all-region honors after helping Ensworth to a 7-5 record and state playoff appearance… 2021 all-state teams yet to be announced…recipient of Tennessee East-West All-Star Game West Defensive MVP honor, as well as the National Football Foundation’s William P. Lawrence Award…credited with 41 tackles and two interceptions in his career while also rushing for 1,060 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Personal: Full name is Charles H. Ingram, V…born October 1, 2003, in Nashville, Tennessee…son of Charles and Catrina Ingram…has three brothers: Caleb, Coby, and Carter.
Carson Jones, QB
6-2, 205, Freshman
Maryville High School
High School: Committed to Furman on July 20…had offers from Gardner-Webb and Mercer before committing to the Paladins…projected 2022 graduate of Maryville (6A) High School…football coach was Derek Hunt…played quarterback…serving as team captain, completed 158-of-206 passes (76.7 percent) for 2,175 yards and 28 TDs (1 INT), and added 9 TDs rushing as a senior in helping Maryville to a 13-1 record and state playoff semifinal finish, where the Rebels fell to eventual state champion Oakland, 24-14…named Region 2-6A Region Player of the Year…Mr. Football semi-finalist…2021 all-state teams yet to be announced…connected on 152-of-198 passes for 2,001 yards, 22 TDs (1 INT), and rushed for five TDs his junior year…helped Maryville to a 26-2 record as a starter…member of four region championship teams and 15-0 state championship team in 2019…four-year record in the program was 53-4…also lettered in baseball and basketball.
Personal: Full name is Carson Webb Jones…born August 1, 2003, in Knoxville, Tennessee…son of Mike and Christy Jones…has two brothers, Michael and William…father was a first team All-Ohio Valley Conference quarterback at Tennessee Tech.
Caleb Lyons, OG
6-3, 310, Freshman
Piqua High School
High School: Committed to Furman on July 31…had offers from Air Force, Army, and Fordham, among others…projected 2022 graduate of Piqua (Division 2) High School…played offensive guard and defensive tackle…football coach was Bill Nees…2021 first team All-Ohio and All-Southwest District selection…two-time first team All-Miami Valley League (MVL) pick…helped Piqua to a 12-1 record MVL championship in 2021…also played basketball and ran track.
Personal: Full name is Caleb Robert Lyons…born July 2, 2003, in Dayton, Ohio…son of Anthony and Kelli Lyons…has a brother, Bailey…father played football at Dayton.
Tre’ McLeod, DB
6-2, 180, Freshman
Darlington, South Carolina
Trinity Collegiate School
High School: Committed to Furman on July 16 over offers from Navy, Air Force, Army, and Fordham…proejcted 2022 graduate of Trinity (SCISA-3A) Collegiate School…football coach was Jared Amell…saw action at running back and defensive back…two-time all-region selection…voted 2021 Region II Offensive Player of the Year,.first team SCISA 3A All-State as an athlete, and Prep Redzone FAB 50 All-State after helping lead his team to 11-2 record and state runner-up finish…rushed for 1,466 yards and 19 touchdowns…also caught three touchdown passes…credited with 82 tackles, six interceptions, and one forced fumble…member of Trinity Collegiate’s 2019 state championship team.
Personal: Full name is Tre’ Faison McLeod…born February 27, 2004, in Darlington, South Carolina…son of Denean Jessup…has a brother Dre’den Bethea…cousin, Mike Hamlin, played football at Clemson and later in the NFL.
Thomas Pilon, DL
6-3, 260, Freshman
McCallie (Tenn.) School
High School: Committed to Furman on November 10…also had an offer from Wofford…projected 2022 graduate of McCallie (D2-3A) School…football coach was Ralph Potter…played end, tackle, and nose guard during his prep career…began high school in his native Canada, earning first team All-Canadian…member of McCallie 2020 & ‘21 state championship teams…all-conference and all-state teams in yet to be announced.
Personal: Full name is Thomas Pilon…born November 16, 2002, in Montreal, Canada…son of Roxanne and Louis Pilon.
Jayquan Smith, TB
6-0, 190, Freshman
Cherokee Bluff High School
High School: Committed to Furman on December 1, choosing the Paladins over a number of offers, including Georgia State, Miami-Ohio, Air Force, Arkansas State, Charlotte, Richmond, Austin Peay, Yale, Tennessee Tech, Southern Illinois, and Gardner-Webb…football coach was former Paladin offensive lineman Tommy Jones…registered 220 carries for 1,750 yards, and 22 touchdowns in 2021 in helping Cherokee Bluff to an 11-1 record and second straight region championship…named Region 7-3A Offensive Player of the Year…all-state teams yet to be announced…ran 34 times for 305 yards and three touchdowns in 38-17 first round playoff victory over Greater Atlanta Christian…ran for 1,200 yards and 14 TDs in 2020, his junior year…played a key role in the improvement of Cherokee Bluff’s new football program, beginning his freshman year when the program went 0-10, progressing to 3-7 record as a sophomore, before going 11-2 in 2020 and 11-1 in 2021
Personal: Full name is Jayquan Andre Smith…born November 15, 2003, in Augusta, Georgia…son of Tanisha and Hensel Smith…has two brothers, Hensel and Bryson.
Caleb Williams, DB
5-10, 180, Freshman
Tampa Jesuit High School
High School: Projected 2020 graduate of Tamps Jesuit (6A) High School…also had offers from Gardner-Webb and Bryant…played cornerback and safety…football coach was Matt Thompson…elected team captain…has played a leading role in Tampa Jesuit’s current 14-0 season and into his team’s Dec. 18 state championship game appearance versus Pine Forest…credited with 92 tackles along with six interceptions and three fumble recoveries…2021 all-state honors yet to announced in Florida…registered 125 tackles, five interceptions, and two fumble recoveries his junior season, helping Tampa Jesuit to a 14-1 record and semifinal round appearance in the state playoffs..2020 first team FloridaHSFootball All-State selection…also competed in track & field
Personal: Full name is Caleb Lorenz Williams…born October 7, 2003, in Tampa, Florida…son of Felicia Bell and Carol Williams…has a brother, Spencer.