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FAU Football Announces 2017 Signing Class

BOCA RATON, Fla. - (Feb. 1, 2017) - Florida Atlantic University Head Football Coach Lane Kiffin announced the 2017 class which is the most geographically diverse among the program's 18 classes, and is ranked first in Conference USA by

Head Football Coach Lane Kiffin's Comments

"It was a very exciting day for us. A lot went into this. And, it was an unusual set of circumstances, getting hired late, Alabama, trying to get the best staff we could. Actually, we didn't finalize our staff until this last week. These guys worked extremely hard...I'm proud of our coaches. I'm proud of how hard they worked and we had a lot of support. Support by the people that were here in place who enabled us to do this...a lot of people say we have the No. 1 class in the Conference (C-USA). We aren't concerned by that. We are more concerned that we brought a lot of really special players here. We feel like at this point they can really help us and contribute to winning and building a championship program. Twenty-four guys so far and we are still working on this by adding one or two guys if we possibly can."


  • Ten coaches traveled more than 79,000 miles recruiting this class since Thursday, Jan. 12. That total equates to three times around the world.
  • Players hail from eight different states (13-Florida; 2-Alabama, California, Georgia, Texas; Arizona, Maryland, Ohio)
  • By position: Six defensive backs, three defensive linemen, three linebackers, three offensive linemen, three wide receivers, one quarterback, one tight end and four players listed as "athlete."
  • By class: 15 freshmen, seven juniors and two sophomores.
Name Pos Ht Wt Class Hometown (Previous School) Rivals ESPN 247 Scout
Ernest Bagner DE 6-3 225 Jr Paramount, Calif. (Riverside City College) ★★★ NR ★★★ NR
Tim Bonner DE 6-5 225 Jr Demopolis, Ala. (East Mississippi CC) ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ NR
Jovon Burriss DB 6-1 190 Jr Germantown, Md. (Fullerton College) ★★ NR ★★★ NR
BJ Etienne OL 6-3 295 Fr Greenacres, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas) ★★ ★★★ ★★ ★★
Zyon Gilbert DB 6-1 180 Fr Montgomery, Ala. (Jefferson Davis) NR NR ★★★ ★★★
*Qu'ran Hafiz DB 6-0 185 Fr Jacksonville, Fla. (Sandalwood) ★★★ NR ★★★ ★★★
Robert Hawkins OL 6-6 335 Fr Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (American Heritage-Plantation) ★★ NR ★★★ ★★
Chase Hooper DT 6-2 270 Fr Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton) ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★
Denzel Houston ATH 6-0 185 Fr Daytona, Fla. (Mainland) ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★
*De'Andre Johnson QB 6-1 200 R-So Jacksonville, Fla. (East Mississippi CC) ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★★
Chase Lasater ATH 6-2 232 Fr Orange Park, Fla. (Trinity Christian Academy) ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★
Akileis Leroy LB 5-11 235 Fr Albany, Ga. (Lee County) NR NR ★★★ ★★★
Carson Lydon LB 6-2 245 Jr Queen Creek, Ariz. (L.A. Valley CC) ★★★ ★★★ NR ★★★
D'Anfernee McGriff ATH 6-1 215 So Tallahassee, Fla. (Iowa Western CC) ★★★★ ★★★★ NR NR
DeAndre McNeal WR 6-1 236 Jr Mesquite, Texas (Fullerton College) ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★★
Jordan Merrell WR 5-9 193 Fr Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas) ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★
Diashun Moss DB 5-11 175 Fr Coral Springs, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons) ★★ ★★★ ★★ ★★
Joey Palmer OL 6-4 295 Jr Thornville, Ohio (Butler CC) ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★
Logan Peterson TE 6-2 230 Fr Aledo, Texas (HS) ★★ NR ★★ ★★
Isaac Readon LB 5-11 195 Fr Miami, Fla. (Booker T. Washington) ★★ ★★★ ★★ ★★
Ahman Ross S 5-11 195 Fr Jacksonville, Fla. (The Bolles School) ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★
Tyrek Tisdale ATH 6-2 200 Fr Orlando, Fla. (Milford Academy) ★★★ ★★★ NR ★★★
Rodney Washington S 6-1 188 Jr Richmond, Calif. (Contra Costa College) NR NR NR NR
Willie Wright WR 5-8 155 Fr Jacksonville, Fla. (William M. Raines) NR ★★★ ★★★ ★★

Ernest Bagner
Jr | 6-3 | 225 | DE |Paramount, Calif. (Riverside City College)

JUCO: Played for Head Coach Tom Craft at Riverside City College where Mustafa Johnson, a former FAU two-year starter on the offensive line, team captain and Offensive MVP (2013), serves as the offensive line coach.

High School: Played for Mike Fitch at Mayfair High School where he earned First Team All-League twice and was the team's Defensive Player of the Year.

Personal: Math major...son of April and Ernest A. Banger III...born Nov. 10, 1997 in Los Angeles.

Tim Bonner
Jr | 6-5 | 225 | DE |Demopolis, Ala. (East Mississippi CC)

JUCO: Played for Buddy Stephens at East Mississippi, helping lead the team to an undefeated season, the Mississippi Bowl State Championship, the State Title and winner of the North...In 12 games, amassed 37 tackles and 5.5 sacks while forcing a fumble and recovering two...Also had two pass breakups.

High School: As a senior, had 84 tackles including 31 for a loss and nine sacks...Was ranked as the No. 49 weakside defensive end nationally by, and was the No. 37 overall recruit from Alabama.

Personal: Born Dec. 7, 1995

Jovon Burriss
Jr | 6-1 | 190 | DB |Germantown, Md. (Fullerton College)

JUCO: Played in 13 games at Fullerton, registering 45 tackles and hauling in two interceptions...also credited with seven pass breakups, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

High School: Played at Seneca Valley High School...Team went 7-3 his senior year.

Personal: Born March 21, 1996...son of Naomi Lynn and Edward Lynn.

BJ Etienne
Fr | 6-3 | 295 | OL | Greenacres, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

High School: Played for Roger Harriott, a former FAU assistant coach '14, at St. Thomas Aquinas High School which finished 12-2 and captured the 2016 7A Florida Championship title...prior to his senior season, he played at Park Vista High School where he was named an All-Area offensive lineman in 2015...was a two-time All-Conference selection in 2014 and '15 and was the team's 2015 Offensive MVP.

Personal: Business major...son of Beneduc Etienne and Naomi Mark...born Aug. 16, 1999 in Margate, Fla...lists cutting hair as a hobby.

Zyon Gilbert
Fr | 6-1 | 180 | DB | Montgomery, Ala. (Jefferson Davis)

High School: Played for Lee Carter at Jefferson Davis High School where he earned All-State twice and was named All-Metro...participated in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game and was a member of the A-B honor roll....also earned best two-way player, best defensive back and the speed award at school's season-ending banquet.

Personal: Business major with a sport management focus...son of Wanica and Meryles Gilbert...born Feb. 4, 1999 in Montgomery, Ala.

Qu'ran Hafiz
Fr | 6-0 | 185 | DB | Jacksonville, Fla. (Sandalwood)

High School: Played for Adam Geis at Sandalwood High School where he was an All-Conference and All-State honoree, and where he earned the team's defensive back award...listed as a U.S Army Combine First Team Performer and was on the All-Rivals Team.

Personal: Business major...son of Christina Harris and Mohammed Hafiz...born Dec. 22, 1998 in Pittsburgh, Pa...comes from a family with a long list of professional athletes.

Robert Hawkins
Fr | 6-6 | 335 | OL | Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (American Heritage - Plantation)

High School: Played for coach Pat Surtain.

Personal: Son of Kerri Reynolds...born on March 30, 1998.

Chase Hooper
Fr | 6-2 | 270 | DL | Atlanta, Ga. (Milton)

High School: Played defensive tackle for head coach Howie DeCristofaro at Milton High School where he earned First Team All-Region.

Personal: Communications major...son of Jesse and Deidra Hooper...born Aug. 20, 1999 in Atlanta, Ga...lists playing classical piano as a hobby.

Denzel Houston
Fr | 6-0 | 185 | ATH | Daytona, Fla. (Mainland)

High School: Played for coach Scott Wilson.

Personal: Son of Audrey Houston and Leroy Houston...born on Nov. 4, 1998.

De'Andre Johnson
R-So | 6-1 | 200 | QB | Jacksonville, Fla. (East Mississippi CC)

JUCO: Played for Buddy Stephens at East Mississippi, which has a long history of developing Junior College All-American quarterbacks (eight in total) his sophomore season the Jacksonville native completed 60.6 percent of his passes and tallied 2,645 yards and 26 scores in 11 games played...was undefeated as a starter and led the team to the Mississippi Bowl State Championship, the State Title and winner of the North...was named the MACJC North MVP, Offensive MVP NJCAA Region 23 MVP, as a two-time NJCAA Offensive Player of the Week and four-time MACJC Offensive Player of the Week.

High School: Played for Marty Lee at First Coast where threw for 3,710 yards and 47 TDs in 13 games as a senior while running for 398 yards and nine TDs...he finished his prep career with 11,697 passing yards, 131 TD passes and 23 rushing TDs...earned the Mr. Football award in 2014...set the record for the state in TD and passing yards as a senior.

Personal: Communications major...son of Earl Johnson and Pamela Jones...born Feb. 2, 1996.

Chase Lasater
Fr | 6-2 | 235 | ATH | Orange Park, Fla. (Trinity Christian Academy)

High School: Played for Verlon Dorminey at Trinity Christian Academy where he was a Blue-Gray All-American and a member of the two-time state championship team.

Personal: Marine biology major...son of Brooke and Forrest Lasater...born May 13, 1998 in Orange Park, Fla...list two relatives as professional athletes (uncle Brad Ahearn, WCAP Wrestling, and grandfather Aaron Brown, who played football at the University of Florida)...lists fishing and the beach as hobbies.

Akileis Leroy
Fr | 5-11 | 235 | LB | Albany, Ga. (Lee County)

High School: Played for Dean Fabrizio at Lee County High School where he was a First Team All-region 2015 selection, an Albany Herald Dynamite Dozen selection in 2015 and 1016, a First Team Atlanta Journal Constitution 2015-16 and 2016-17 selection, a First Team Georgia All-State selection in 2015 and an Honorable Mention honoree in a senior, the Georgia native recorded 92 tackles, seven sacks and eight tackles for a loss, and tallied 18 hits...led team in tackles for a defense that yielded 32.5 yards per game.

Personal: Undecided in major...son of Tameka Wimbush and Antonio Leroy...born June 8, 1999 in Albany, Ga...includes Emarlos Leroy, a former defensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars and formerly of the University of Georgia as a relative...lists track and playing the violin as hobbies.

Carson Lydon
Jr | 6-2 | 245 | LB | Queen Creek, Ariz. (L.A. Valley CC)

JUCO: Played at Los Angeles Valley College where he earned first team All-Conference and All-State Honors...named California All-American...the Monarchs finished the 2016 season with an 11-0 record, 5-0 in conference play, and captured the American Division Championship Bowl.

High School: Played for Bob Hudson at East Lake High School where he was a two-time First Team All-Conference selection and a two-time member of the All-State First Team.

Personal: Multimedia major with a concentration in journalism...son of Jen Lydon, Bill Bernecki and Justin Lydon...born Oct. 17, 1996 in Salem, Ore...lists his career goal as a travel journalist for National Geographic.

D'Anfernee McGriff
So | 6-1 | 215 | ATH | Tallahassee, Fla. (Iowa Western CC)

JUCO: Played 11 games for coach Scott Strohmeier at Iowa Western...Caught 48 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns.

High School: Played at Leon High School in Tallahassee.

Personal: Born on Oct. 22, 1996.

DeAndre McNeal
Jr | 6-1 | 236 | TE | Mesquite, Texas (Fullerton College)

JUCO: Saw action in 13 games...tallied 640 receiving yards as a wide receiver for an average of 49.2 yards per game...credited with six scores.

Texas: Played for Charlie Strong at the University of Texas where he had one carry for nine yards.

High School: Coached by Kody Groves at Poteet High School...two-time All-State honoree...named Second Team 5A All-State by the Associated Press, and Honorable Mention All-State by the Texas Sports Writers Association in 2014...tabbed overall Co-MVP and First Team All-District 12-5A...selected Second Team All-Area by the Dallas Morning News...played quarterback, wide receiver, running back, linebacker, safety and cornerback...ranked No. 200 (No. 13 ATH) nationally and No. 27 in Texas by 247Sports...rated No. 28 ATH nationally and No. 43 overall in Texas by ESPN...rated No. 43 overall in Texas by Scout...ranked No. 11 ATH nationally and No. 55 overall in Texas by Rivals...rated No. 5 ATH in the state by Dave Campbell's Texas Football...placed No. 45 on the Fab 55 by the Austin American-Statesman...recorded 41 receptions for 869 yards (21.2 ypc) and 12 TDs, while rushing 40 times for 368 yards (9.5 ypc) and 11 TDs as a senior...helped Poteet to a 10-2 record, including a 7-0 district mark and an appearance in the 5A Division 2 area playoffs in 2014...selected Honorable Mention 4A All-State as an all-purpose back by the Texas Sports Writers Association in 2013...chosen Second Team All-District 10-4A as a wide receiver...caught over 40 passes for 607 receiving yards and 11 TD receptions as a junior...also rushed 64 times for 409 yards (6.4 ypc) and nine TDs...In 2013, he helped Poteet to a 12-2 record, including a 6-1 district mark and an appearance in the 4A Division 2 quarterfinals, making five catches for 45 yards and 24 carries for 187 yards as a sophomore...His freshman year, his Poteet team went 11-3, including 5-2 district, and made an appearance in the 4A Division 2 quarterfinals.

Personal: Son of Fletcher McNeal and Thaquel King...born Feb. 2, 1997 in Dallas,, Devante, is an offensive lineman at SAGU (Southwestern Assemblies of God University)...lists writing poetry as a hobby.

Jordan Merrell
Fr | 5-9 | 193 | WR | Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

High School: Played for Roger Harriott, an FAU assistant coach in 2014, where in 14 games for the Florida 7A High School State Champions, had 31 receptions for 339 yards and five scores...averaged 10.9 yards per catch and 24.2 yards per game...his longest reception as a senior was a 13-yarder.

Personal: Business major...son of Marguerite White...born Jan. 28, 1998 in Margate, Fla.

Diashun Moss
Fr | 5-10 | 175 | DB | Coral Springs, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons)

High School: Played for Matt DuBuc at Cardinal Gibbons High School where he was the team's defensive player with the most touchdowns.

Personal: Criminal justice major...son of Faleasha and Giovanni Moss...born April 5, 1999 in Boca Raton, Fla.

Joey Palmer
Jr | 6-4 | 295 | OL | Thornville, Ohio (Butler CC)

JUCO: Played for Tim Schaffner at Butler CC where he earned First Team All-Conference (KJCCAA) and First Team All-Region...previously attended San Bernardino Valley where he earned Second Team All-Conference honors (CCCAA).

High School: Played for Paul Culver, Jr. at Sheridan High School where he earned First Team All-League, First Team All-District and Honorable Mention All-State honors.

Personal: Sports management major...son of Karla Palmer...born Nov. 13, 1996 in Columbus, Ohio...lists college coaching as a professional goal.

Logan Peterson
Fr | 6-2 | 230 | TE | Aledo, Texas (Aledo)

High School: Played for Steve Wood at Aledo High School where he was a two-time First Team All-District team selection as well as a two-time All-Parker County honoree...was a member of two state championship teams during his prep career...a career that saw the Texas native compile a varsity record of a senior his squad posted a 16-0 record...academically, he excelled in the classroom where he earned Academic All-District twice.

Personal : Marine biology major...son of Mark and Terri Peterson...born March 15, 1999 in Dallas, Texas...lists fishing and hunting as hobbies.

Isaac Redon
Fr | 5-11 | 195 | LB | Miami, Fla. (Booker T. Washington)

High School: Played for coach Tim "Ice" Harris.

Personal: Son of Nadine Hamilton and Isaac Redon Sr....born Feb. 4, 1999.

Ahman Ross
Fr | 5-11 | 195 | S | Jacksonville, Fla. (The Bolles School)

High School: Played for Corky Rogers at The Bolles School where he recorded 97 tackles, including 15 for a loss, and three sacks as a senior...added three forced fumbles, two recoveries, four pass breakups, six interceptions and two TDs...his performance garnered Florida Times Union Super 11, 24 and 75 honors...also named 4A First Team All-State, MaxPreps Medium School All-American honors and All-First Coast Football First Team honors.

Personal: Communications major...son of Abeni Kelley and Antonio Ross...born June 20, 1999 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Tyrek Tisdale
Fr | 6-2 | 200 | ATH | Orlando, Fla. (Milford Academy)

Milford Academy: Played for Billy Chaplick at Milford where he earned game balls for most improved player from the previous game twice and Hit of the Day once.

High School: Played for Elijah Williams at Oak Ridge High School where earned the team's Offensive MVP honor as a senior...was an All-Metro Conference selection...participated in the Blue and Grey All-American Game, the Offense/Defense All-American Game, the Senior Bowl and was a member of the All-Star Team and the East/West All-Star Team.

Personal: Business major...son of Willette Tisdale...born Dec. 17, 1997...lists fishing, swimming and community service as hobbies.

Rodney Washington
Jr | 6-1 | 188 | S | Richmond, Calif. (Contra Costa College)

JUCO: Played for coach Alonzo Carter at Contra Costa College.

High School: Played at El Cerrito High School for coach George Austin.

Personal: Son of Regina Beasley and Rodney Washington Sr....born on June 20, 1997 in Richmond, Dalf..

Willie Wright
Fr | 5-8 | 155 | WR | Jacksonville, Fla. (William M. Raines)

High School: Amassed 2,082 all-purpose yards and had 22 total TDs for coach Deran Wiley at Raines High...was named All-Conference and All-Gateway.

Personal: Business major...son of Willjoyce Hardaman...born July 22, 1998.

- FAU -

Florida Atlantic University Athletics:
FAU Athletics is comprised of 21 intercollegiate teams involving 450 student-athletes that compete in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track, volleyball, beach volleyball, cheer and dance. The Owls are a NCAA Division I-A (FBS) institution and compete in Conference USA and the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) (Beach Volleyball, Men's Swimming). The Owls have been playing football since 2001 and have captured two bowl games. The dance team finished its 2014 season No. 8, nationally. FAU Cheer captured a national championship in 2016.

About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six county service region in southeast Florida. FAU's world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU's existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit