The University of Wyoming football program signed three junior college players to national letters of intent Wednesday, and a true freshman quarterback.
The players are:
–Safety Jesse Sampson (6-foot, 200 pounds) from College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif.
–Linebacker Malkaam Muhammad (6-0, 225) from Iowa Western Community College and the younger brother of former UW linebacker Ghaali Muhammad.
–Linebacker Jordan Stanton (6-0, 250) from Los Angeles Pierce College.
–Quarterback Tommy Thornton (6-1, 205) from Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Ariz.
All four will enroll at UW in January for the spring semester.
Muhammad will have three years of eligibility at UW. The other two JC players will have two. Thornton will have four years of eligibility and be a true freshman when he enrolls.
Wednesday was the first day mid-year junior-college players could sign. The end of that period is Jan. 15.
Here is some more information on each player:
Played at Iowa Western Community College in 2011 and redshirted in 2012. Iowa Western captured the 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship with a 12-0 record. As a freshman in 2011, Muhammad recorded 38 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. Iowa Western was 9-2 in 2011, and ended the season ranked No. 7 in the final NJCAA national poll.
As a high school senior at Central High School in St. Joseph, Mo., Muhammad earned First Team All-State, All-District and All-City honors. He played linebacker, running back and returned kicks. Muhammad rushed for over 1,500 yards as a running back his senior season. He was also a team captain as a senior. As a junior, he rushed for over 1,000 yards. He was a four-year letterman in football and track.
Muhammad was also recruited by Colorado State, Nevada and Western Kentucky.
My take: Muhammad committed to UW out of high school before going the JC route. A bit undersized to play linebacker, but so was his brother and he made a ton of plays for the Cowboys. A versatile guy that could play offense, possibly. Could make a good safety if he has the speed and athleticism. Hard to go against bloodlines like that.
Sampson led his College of the Canyons team in tackles in 2012 with 61 tackles in 10 games. College of the Canyons earned a bid to the Southern California Bowl to end the season, where they lost a close 21-24 game to Santa Ana College. He ranked 13th in the Southern California Football Association’s Northern Conference in tackles, averaging 6.1 tackles per game. Sampson added 3.0 tackles for losses, one interception and two pass breakups as a sophomore for the College of the Canyons.
His freshman season, Sampson also led the Cougars in tackles, with 49, including 24 solo tackles, 25 assists and 2.0 tackles for losses. He intercepted one pass, had two pass breakups and forced one fumble in 2011. Sampson earned Second Team All-Conference recognition as both a freshman and sophomore. He also earned Dean’s List honors both years in junior college.
In high school, Sampson played both safety and wide receiver at Bishop Alemany High School. Bishop Alemany was ranked No. 9 in the state of California his senior season, posting a 13-1 record and advancing to the CIF State Semifinals. As a senior he recorded 76 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and intercepted one pass. Sampson was named All-Serra League as a senior. His junior season, he was credited with 83 tackles, 4.0 sacks, two interceptions, one pass breakup and two fumble recoveries. Sampson earned All-Mission League honors and Second Team All-CIF honors as a junior, as he helped lead Bishop Alemany to a 10-4 record and a CIF Championship. He was an honor student throughout high school.
Coming out of junior college, Sampson was also recruited by Hawai’i and New Mexico.
My take: On paper this is the best player among the signees. Played in a good JC league and was productive. I like his size. UW has some questions at safety such as if senior Luke Ruff will get (or want) a medical redshirt and return next season, and where junior-to-be Darrenn White (played both corner and safety last season) fits in. Sampson should make the position better if Ruff comes back and if junior-to-be Chad Reese continues to develop.
Stanton tallied 29 tackles as a sophomore, including 21 solo tackles, eight assists, 3.0 sacks, 7.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble and one pass breakup. He helped lead L.A. Pierce to a 9-2 overall record, a 6-1 conference mark and a second-place finish in the Southern California Football Association Pacific Conference. L.A. Pierce won the Patriotic Bowl Championship. He earned Second Team All-Conference honors as a sophomore in 2012.
In high school he was named a team captain as both a junior and senior. Stanton was credited with 139 tackles, forced five fumbles, intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles as a linebacker his senior season. He also rushed for over 700 yards as a running back, and scored 12 touchdowns. He was named the Golden League Defensive Player of the Year, earned First Team All-League and was named a National Football Foundation High School Scholar-Athlete. His junior season, he recorded 90 tackles and forced two fumbles. He received an Award of Academic Excellence from his high school, achieving a 3.83 grade-point average. His high school coach was Corey Guilfoos.
Coming out of junior college, Stanton was also recruited by Arkansas State.
My take: I like the size in terms of Stanton’s weight to play inside linebacker. He as sophomore-to-be Siaosi Hala’api’api could make a nice duo there. UW also needs help at both outside linebacker spots.
Thornton signed a national letter of intent with Wyoming in February of 2012. He decided to grayshirt, meaning he chose to postpone his enrollment at the University of Wyoming until the 2013 spring semester.
Thornton received First Team All-State Division II recognition from the Arizona Coaches Association his senior season. He also was named an Honorable Mention All-State Division II honoree by the Arizona Republic as a senior at Marcos de Niza High. Division II is the second largest classification in Arizona.
Thornton threw for 2,544 yards and had 20 touchdown passes, while completing 65 percent of his passes in 2011. He added 812 rushing yards and eight rushing TDs. As a junior, he threw for 1,934 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was voted a team captain as both a junior and senior, and led his Marcos de Niza team to back-to-back 9-3 seasons in 2010 and ‘11, advancing to the Quarterfinals of the State Playoffs both seasons.
Thornton was also recruited by Arizona, Brown, Navy and Utah State.
My take: Hard to think Thornton will come right away and compete for serious playing time as a true freshman. But coming in early will only help his progress by going through winter conditioning and 15 spring practices. Check back in a year or two to see how he’s doing.
2013 UW recruiting class
#LB Malkaam Muhammad, 6-0, 225, St.Joseph, Mo. (Iowa Western CC)
#S Jesse Sampson, 6-1, 200, Mission Hills, Calif. (College of the Canyons)
#LB Jordan Stanton, 6-2, 240, Palmdale, Calif. (Los Angeles Pierce College)
#^QB Tommy Thornton, 6-1, 205, Tempe, Ariz. (Marcos De Niza HS)
LB Ryan Anaya, 6-3, 248, Casper (Casper Natrona County HS)
DT James Diamanti, 6-4, 295, Grand Junction, Colo. (Grand Junction HS)
DT Dalton Fields, 6-3, 270, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Pine Creek HS)
ATH Tanner Gentry, 6-2, 180, Aurora, Colo. (Grandview HS)
OL Taylor Knestis, 6-5, 265, Lakewood, Colo. (Lakewood HS)
S Xavier Lewis, 5-11, 190, Centennial, Colo. (Eaglecrest HS)
OL Charlie Renfree, 6-3, 280, Phoenix (Brophy Prep)
OL Connor Riese, 6-7, 305, Schofield, Wisc. (D.C. Everest HS)
OL Kurtis Stirneman, 6-6, 280, Woodstock, Ill. (Marian Central Catholic HS)
RB Omar Stover, 5-11, 195, Bolingbrook, Ill. (Bolingbrook HS)
RB/ATH Josh Tapscott, 5-8, 183, Nokesville, Va. (Kettle Run HS)
DB Kerwin Thomas, 5-10, 160, Wagoner, Okla. (Wagoner HS)
#Will enroll at UW in January
^Grayshirt signee in 2012 that goes on scholarship in January