Lions fulfill needs on signing day

The ink has dried since UNA football announced the signing of 18 high school student-athletes and five two-year college transfers on National Signing Day Feb. 4.

The Lions added 11 offensive players and 10 on defense. Of the 18 high school signees, 11 are from the Shoals area.

“We are very pleased with our signing class,” said head coach Bobby Wallace. “It’s a cross between older junior college players that can come in and help make an immediate impact and high school players that can help build our future.”

Wallace said the two-year college transfers are a reflection of the team’s immediate needs.

“We lost a lot of seniors at defensive end so it was important to sign some players at that position,” he said. “We also wanted to develop some more depth on the offensive line and at linebackers.”

Wallace said he was proud to sign so many high school players from the Shoals area and is pleased with all of the players they signed.

“There were three guys we recruited really hard, and they were Blake Hawkins (quarterback), Terrance Humphrey (running back) and Mike McGee (linebacker),” he said.

Offensive coordinator Cody Gross said he was excited to see the Lions land Florence High School quarterback Blake Hawkins. The 6-foot-5 signal caller threw for 1,639 yards and 12 touchdowns as he led the Falcons to the Class 6A semifinals in 2014.

“It’s a big deal for me to get him,” Gross said. “He made a 28 on his ACT. He’s fast, tough and a smart kid. He has all the intangibles you look for in a quarterback. I think we’re very fortunate to get him.”

Hawkins had several D-I offers but ultimately stuck with the Lions.

“We offered him early, Gross said. “And we don’t offer many people early, but it paid off. I’m excited about getting him in here and seeing what he can do.”

Wallace said there is still an opportunity for UNA to add more players to the program.

Four college transfers are already enrolled at UNA and will be available for spring practice, which starts Feb. 16.