MOSCOW, Idaho – In its 11-player early signing class, Idaho added intriguing athletic talent. It built on its legacy. It brought in several players who are expected to play immediately and it poached a former Cougar.
“It’s a really good class,” Vandals head coach Paul Petrino said, who added that Idaho hoped to sign six to eight more players.
The group includes three offensive linemen, a quarterback, two safeties, a cornerback, a defensive end, a fullback/tight end, a linebacker and a former sprinter whose 100-meter run capability might be game-changing.
Two new Vandals could be elite Big Sky talents, Petrino said, including freshman quarterback C.J. Jordan (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) from West Camas, Washington.
“(Jordan) is extremely athletic,” Petrino said. “He can throw it, run it. He was a great get. It’s exciting to get anybody the caliber of him.”
In eight games as a senior, Jordan threw for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns and ran for 319 yards and four touchdowns before getting injured. Petrino wouldn’t rule him out as a potential starter as a freshman.
“It depends on how fast he can learn it. He’s got enough talent,” he said.
The other top talent is Chauncy Smart (5-8, 165), who spent two years as a sprinter at the University of Miami.
“He’s probably the fastest guy to come to Idaho,” Petrino said.
A state champion in the 100 at Florida’s Auburndale Senior High, Smart played at running back and cornerback in high school before running track for two years at Miami. Petrino said Smart convinced him he wants to return to football. His role with the Vandals will probably be at receiver.
“We’ve got to get the ball in his hands and make things happen,” Petrino said.
School ties helped the Vandals sign two players. Tommy McCormick (5-11, 165) caught 58 passes for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns and averaged six tackles a game as a wide receiver/safety at Churchill County High in Fallon, Nevada. Petrino said McCormick will play as a defensive back for Idaho. He joins his older brother Sean, a Vandals sophomore wide receiver.
Jake Cox (6-3, 226), from Coronado High in El Paso, Texas, is the son of former Idaho player and assistant coach Mike Cox. Idaho projects him as a tight end or fullback.
“He’s strong, and he’s tough enough to play right away,” Petrino said.
The Vandals added three offensive linemen: Chad Bagwell (6-6, 311) from Sierra College in Rocklin, California; Jory Dotts (6-5, 294) from Colville; and Greyson Harwood (6-3, 269) from Minico High in Rupert, Idaho.
Bagwell is expected to compete for a starting role at center, which would allow the Vandals to return junior Logan Floyd to tackle. Dotts could also play as a freshman, Petrino said.
Idaho is also counting immediate help from Fa’avae Fa’avae (6-0, 225), a linebacker who transferred to Idaho after two years of sporadic playing time at Washington State. He is versatile and can play in the middle and on the edge, Petrino said.
Jabarii Pharms (5-11, 176) from Stagg High in Stockton, California, will get a look at safety, but Petrino expects him to grow into a linebacker or defensive end.
“He’s got giant hands and big feet. On his visit, he ate a lot,” Petrino said.
Arnell Walker (5-11, 170), from Orlando (Florida) Christian Prep, was recruited as a cornerback, a position at which Idaho lost senior starter Lloyd Hightower. Petrino said Walker could see the field early if he is fully recovered from an injury.
The Vandals dipped into Spokane for Zach Krotzer (6-3, 230). He was the Greater Spokane League’s 3A defensive MVP for Shadle Park as a defensive end.
“He’s just a football player,” Petrino said. “He runs. He likes to hit people, get after it.
“He plays with a great motor.”
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